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The Feel-Good Mavericks Upgrade

The release of Apple’s new OS X 10.9 Mavericks has in some ways been routine for us, because Mavericks marks the seventh time that we have published (and I’ve edited) Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Upgrading to…” ebook. “Take Control of Upgrading to Mavericks” has been available for several weeks now, first in its 1.0 early-bird version, then in its 1.1 release-day version, and now in its 1.2 older-and-wiser version.

It started about six months ago for us, with discussions about if anyone is still running earlier versions of Mac OS X, such as 10.4 Tiger. From there, we moved on to talking about if anyone still wanted to get a fresh start with a clean install, instead of merely running the installer over their current system, or if people wanted advice on the smartest way to upgrade with the safety net of a bootable duplicate. Then we agonized over whether there would be anything new to say about the upgrade to Mavericks. As it turned out, the answer to all three questions was a resounding “Yes!”

The ways in which “Take Control of Upgrading to Mavericks” remains relevant came home for me yesterday. It was Sunday afternoon and our 14-year-old son Tristan was eager to install Mavericks on his MacBook. Since Adam and I were juggling weekend errands with the need to finish the book’s 1.2 update, Adam shared a copy of the ebook with Tristan via Google Drive and let him loose on the project.

While Tristan worked through the 1.1 version, I was editing the latest additions to version 1.2. The ebook now suggests three reasons why you might not want to upgrade right away (two of which emerged since version 1.1): no Sync Services, no Theater option in Messages, and bad behavior on the part of Apple Mail, especially if you use Gmail. (For details, read Joe’s TidBITS article about the Mail problem, “Mail in Mavericks Changes the Gmail Equation,” 22 October 2013. It has received 92,000 page views, and its comment count is at 280 and climbing.) Joe also added more detail about iCloud Keychain and iBooks, and some tips about multiple monitors, to his chapter about post-installation

Tristan popped in on Adam a few times to get help finding a spare external hard drive and tracking down a DVD containing Apple Hardware Test, but otherwise did the entire upgrade by himself. As Tristan later said, “Every 2 or 3 years, it’s really good to do this kind of work on your computer.” (Thank you, Joe, because that realization will never come from a parent lecture.) Joe’s advice worked perfectly, and Tristan’s upgrade went well (he uses Gmail, but not Apple Mail).

We’ve been publishing “Take Control of Upgrading to…” for 10 years now (see “Celebrating Ten Years of Take Control,” 28 October 2013), so we’ve had plenty of time to refine how we walk people through the upgrade experience. But what we’ve known since 2003 is that we want readers to finish reading the ebook feeling comfortable, confident, and competent. That could be as simple as getting the good feeling of competence that comes from hearing the post-install startup chime and seeing your Mavericks Desktop for the first time, as Tristan did. Or perhaps your feeling of confidence will be delayed until you work through the troubleshooting chapter and learn how to deal with a
gray screen appearing after installation. Or maybe you’ll feel comfortable only once you finally get your user accounts right, turn on FileVault, and find the new-in-Mavericks checkbox that unhides your ~/Library folder. Whatever your situation, there’s plenty of advice in “Take Control of Upgrading to Mavericks” to ensure a successful upgrade for any Mac user, of any age.

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