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Take Control of Yosemite Upgrades, New Features, and Sharing

On 16 October 2014, Apple released OS X 10.10 Yosemite, and as has become our tradition, we published not one, not two, but three Take Control books about the new operating system the same day, assuming you interpret “same day” as “before we went to bed.” The first two are straightforward and useful, and the third has more real-world, practical advice for the modern Mac user than anything we’ve published recently:

We’ll explain more about what’s in these books below, but if you just want to grab them now and save with a bundle discount, click a link here to put them right in the cart:

So, what’s in each book and why are we excited about them?

Do you want to upgrade to Yosemite with confidence? The first and best guide to upgrading, now in its eighth major installment, is Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite.” The series has helped tens of thousands of Mac users since 2003, and gives you the benefit of Joe’s years of installation experience. You’ll ensure that your hardware and software are ready for Yosemite, protect against problems with a bootable duplicate, eliminate digital clutter, prepare your Mac, and decide on your best installation method, no matter what version of Mac OS X you’re upgrading from, all the way back to 10.4 Tiger. Then you’ll find full installation directions plus advice on over a dozen things to do immediately after installation and troubleshooting techniques. Joe also explains upgrading from the Yosemite public beta and “upgrades” that involve moving your data to a new Mac from an old Mac or Windows PC. It’s 152 pages and costs $15.

The next two books are in our new Take Control Crash Course series, which brings you the first-rate content you expect from us in shorter chunks so you can dip in and read quickly. Because so many Take Control readers provide tech support to others, each concise chapter has sharing buttons and practical tweet-tips, making it easy to freely share a few pages with Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and others who really need the information. Take Control Crash Courses feature a modern, magazine-like layout in PDF while retaining a reflowable design in the EPUB and Mobipocket versions. I’ll explain more about what we’re trying to achieve with the Take Control Crash Course series in a future article.

For now, though read “Yosemite: A Take Control Crash Course,” to get more out of your Mac as you go about your everyday activities. Written by former Macworld editor Scholle McFarland, this book introduces Yosemite’s new interface and discusses new features like iCloud Drive, Handoff, iPhone voice/SMS relay, and Notification Center’s Today view. You’ll learn about key changes in core Apple apps with chapters about Safari, Mail, Messages, and Calendar. You’ll also find answers to questions brought on by recent additions to OS X, such as how to control notifications, tips for using Finder tags, and working with tabbed Finder windows. The book closes with two under-the-hood topics: setting up a new user account (for a child, guest, or troubleshooting) and troubleshooting (with techniques including Safe Boot and OS X Recovery). It’s 77 pages and costs $10.

Beyond what’s new in Yosemite is the larger problem facing most of us — how to work effectively in today’s ecosystem of devices, services, and collaborators. Frankly, sharing with other people and devices is messy, because everyone wants something different. That’s why “Digital Sharing for Apple Users: A Take Control Crash Course” may be our most important book of the year, and why we are so grateful to Joe Kissell for taking on the challenge of describing how to share nearly anything you can think of in nearly every imaginable situation. Here are just a few of the gems in this book:

  • How iCloud Photo Sharing and My Photo Stream are entirely different
  • How to share photos fleetingly, privately, permanently, or with your fridge
  • The best ways to sync a project’s worth of files with others
  • Services to provide ubiquitous access to your own files across devices
  • Quick ways to make a file available for download by anyone
  • How to share calendars with others, whether or not they use iCloud
  • A brief tutorial on enabling Family Sharing
  • Tweaky workarounds for contact sharing, which is surprisingly difficult
  • How to rip a DVD to your MacBook Air using an older Mac’s SuperDrive
  • How to turn your iPhone or Mac into a Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Ways of watching your uncle work remotely, as you help him with iTunes
  • Approaches to syncing Web browser bookmarks and tabs with multiple devices
  • How to securely share a collection of passwords with someone else

The list of essential but often frustrating modern tasks goes on and on, and the solutions go way beyond what Apple offers, so “Digital Sharing for Apple Users: A Take Control Crash Course” does too. Non-Apple products mentioned include 1Password, Airfoil, BitTorrent Sync, Cargo Lifter, CloudyTabs, Dropbox, Exchange, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Google Calendar, Google Chrome, Google Docs, Instagram, iPhoto Library Manager, Outlook, Pandora, PhotoCard, Printopia, Reflector, Rdio, Spotify, Syncmate, Syncphotos, Transporter, Twitter, Xmarks, and more. Plus, thanks to the new Take Control Crash Course format, you can jump right to the chapter that answers your question, without having to read through lots of other information. It’s 87 pages and $10.

If you’re wondering what’s happened to “iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course,” Josh Centers continues to burn the midnight oil working on it. We moved it to the back burner to concentrate on the Yosemite books because some iOS 8 features were still becoming functional over the last few weeks. With Yosemite and iOS 8.1 now out, this book is our next priority.


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Comments about Take Control of Yosemite Upgrades, New Features, and Sharing
(Comments are closed.)

Michael Whyte  2014-10-21 02:31
Interesting, but how does iCloud syncing function when a user is offline for extended periods. Not all mac users have reliable wifi access but also use their iMacs and I-devices regularly. I work for weeks in parts of the world where the net is often down and where bandwidth is at best restricted. I still want to work on my iPad in the field (better battery life) but switch to my PowerBook when I get back to electricity (and maybe internet). Under these circumstances, what can be expected from iCloud features?
Tonya Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-10-21 08:51
Michael, my understanding is that the iCloud Documents features does not have any sort of local sync feature (like where it could work over a local or ad hoc Wi-Fi network). Thus, in a situation like you describe with limited/intermittent Internet access, iCloud Documents isn't going to work out for you. In fact, I would recommend not using it, because you may end up with documents not syncing rapidly/properly and confusion about which device has the latest version of a document.
Duane Williams  2014-10-25 15:05
I think the best advice anyone could give in regard to Yosemite would be "Wait until Apple gets it right."

For example, there appears to be a bug in the application launch code that can have surprising results. I saw 1Password 5 (from the Mac App Store) launch an old version of its Mini app from an attached backup USB drive, rather than the new version in its own directory, even though the developer claims that a full path to the correct version was used.

Many people are complaining of massive memory leaks and I've seen evidence of it on my MacBook Pro. I had never seen the "Memory Pressure" gauge in Activity Monitor go into the red until I upgraded to Yosemite.

I recommend waiting for upgrades of iOS 8 also. Installing it on my phone completely disabled its ability to call out and to receive calls, while pretty much everything else works. How did that happen? Well the upgrade process got a fatal error and told me to run recovery. When the so-called recovery was complete I found myself with iOS 8.1! Some "recovery"! More like a broken upgrade.

My phone is also sucking battery power faster than ever before, and so is my iPad Air, which upgraded to iOS 8 with no obvious errors.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-10-25 16:36
Indeed - there's never any harm in waiting for a few updates, although we are hearing from some people who never upgraded iPhones from iOS 6 to iOS 7, and are now unhappy because Apple has removed iOS 7 as an upgrade option and is offering only iOS 8. So it's worth staying roughly in sync with the current OS.

All that said, we've generally found the release versions of Yosemite and iOS 8 (except for the horrid iOS 8.0.1, which Apple pulled quickly and fixed with 8.0.2) quite stable and functional.

What does seem to be the case, though, is that major OS releases tend to shake free new edge cases, so people who hadn't had troubles previously will have weird things like worse battery life or flaky Wi-Fi performance. And other people will find that the very same upgrade fixes their previous poor battery life and flaky Wi-Fi performance. Particularly in iOS, once you get hundreds of millions of devices out there, astonishingly unusual problems (on a percentage basis) can affect a non-trivial number of actual users.
Hank Roberts  2014-11-16 15:29
and now this?? I'm still holding off on upgrading, hoping Tidbits will do an assessment, soberly and critically, under the "never a version that ends in 0" rule of thumb.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-11-16 19:38
Kernel extension signing seems like a potentially useful security practice, and I see no reason that a Mac developer couldn't sign a kernel extension implementing TRIM (which may not even be necessary for newer SSDs).

I don't think there's any conspiracy here, especially since Apple's overall thrust has been to provide Fusion drives and SSDs across the entire line.

As to whether you should upgrade to Yosemite or not, I think it mostly comes down to whether or not you see an advantage to doing so in the new features or compatibility with iOS 8. It's not going to change the way you use your Mac otherwise. And there aren't any significant pitfalls that everyone will run into - a given individual might have their own problems, but there's nothing big that's affecting everyone.

Just read "Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite" and make sure you have a backup first so you can revert if you do run into a show-stopper.