Ars Technica reviews Apple’s OS X 10.9 Mavericks: A no-brainer upgrade

“Should you upgrade? OS X is (still) not iOS. The upgrade risks are greater, and there is no easy iCloud-based backup and restore for your Mac to save you if things go awry,” John Siracusa writes for Ars Technica. “If you’re currently running Mountain Lion, is there anything in Mavericks that makes it a must-have upgrade?”

“If you’re using a Mac laptop, I’d say yes,” Siracusa writes. “A potentially multi-hour increase in battery life will likely improve the quality of your life as a Mac user far beyond the price—in terms of time, not money this year—of upgrading to Mavericks.”

“If you have a desktop Mac, I still recommend upgrading if any of the features that you’ve read about made you mentally exclaim, ‘Finally!’ For me, there are several. Over the past three years, each successive release of OS X has found its way onto all of my Macs in less time than its predecessor,” Siracusa writes “This year, I may have already gone Mavericks-only across my whole household by the time you read this. Barring any unforeseen bugs or compatibility issues, Mavericks seems like a no-brainer upgrade to me.”

Reams more (this is the review for big boys and girls) in the typically exhaustingly comprehensive 24-page full review – very highly recommendedhere.


  1. “cut once, measure twice” Fast adopters of 10.9 have found Paralles 7 no longer works, Samsung has no printer drivers for 10.9 making their printers, door stops,other apps are dead meat too like iMovie 6. I just knew this was going to happen so I did not move to 10.9 and Paralles 7 works fine, my Samsung printer prints and my iMovie 6 still works.

      1. It’s not like this was a surprise; Open Transport has been deprecated since OS X 10.4, after all. The only program I use that doesn’t work in Mavericks (so far as I know right now) is another Usenet reader, btw.

    1. All of that would be the developers fault since they had months to get ready for Mavericks. Parallels’ 7 does in fact run with a few issues but 7 is two versions back. Upgrade.

    2. My god, man… iMovie 6 is SEVEN years old… If you need a frame of reference for just how old it is, it originally ran on OS X 10.3 Panther.

      Registered users of Parallels should have known there were issues… Parallels sent out emails to all registered users several weeks in advance of the release of Mavericks. I received several myself.

      If people want to run old applications and peripherals, that’s fine, but they’ll have to stick with the old operating system those things work with. If they want the latest/greatest operating systems, then they’re going to have to accept the fact that some older software or peripherals isn’t going to work, will need to be upgraded. The manufacturers of those products may also no longer support that software and peripherals. None of that is the fault of Apple or the operating system.

      This is actually all common sense, but some people seem to have really hard time understanding.

      1. One of my clients is a print shop. They have printers and imagesetters that are 10 years old. They can’t run anything newer than Snow Leopard OS X 10.5.x on their primary workstations. And that’s with running a Mac with Leopard OS X 10.5.x as a print server. That means, the newest version of Adobe Creative Suite they can run is version 5.5. It’s drives me crazy, but they don’t have $50,000 to purchase new equipment.

        This is common in the print industry. They have presses that are 20, 30, 40 years old. So until some point when they can afford to upgrade their back end, they’re stuck in a time warp with their front end.

        The only other solution is to go to a PDF workflow, and print from a dedicated older computer. Not a very efficient workflow strategy to say the least.

        My whole point is, if you can’t or don’t want to upgrade equipment, at some point, it’s going to become obsolete. This is the Bain of technologies. Besides, companies want to make money, planned obsolescence is part of the game. Plus at some point, companies aren’t going to put in the time to upgrade drivers for old equipment. HP is one if the few who still updates drivers for most of their printers from the past 15 years. Actually, I think Apple actually does that, since HP is such a popular brand.

        I just had a client with and old 15 year old laser printer that still works great. I had to add it via IP, because AppleTalk is no longer supported. When I added the printer running Snow Leopard, a message came up that the latest driver was being downloaded from Apple.

        It’s the nature of the beast. Keeps me busy, and I make great money. My clients would need me half the time if they had the newest of everything. The new printers that support Bionjour are brain dead easy to set up and configure. Compare that to having to assign an IP address manually to an old printer, knowing how to add a printer via IP, and so on, is usually to daunting for most users.

      1. He confused me, I’m not sure why he is so happy and relieved that by not upgrading everything still works. I didn’t upgrade 7 times already and thankfully nothing has broken either. What a relief, let’s hope I have the same luck tomorrow.

      1. Agreed. Clearly someone who has never read John Siracusa’s epic (and famous) reviews of each OS X release. I salivate looking forward to spend hours pouring over it in all it’s geeky goodness.

    1. Have you rebooted yet after the upgrade? Not the one that happens during the install process but after that? With any major OS X update it seems that doing a reboot shortly after the new OS is up and running smooths out a lot of things. I was having your exact same issues – reboot solved it all.

  2. 10.9 Crashed my CAD Program Vectorworks. Even last years version does not work apparently because of something Apple removed from the operating system. I can’t afford to spend $1,800 to upgrade that software so I am stuck with 10.8. The down grade to iWork is also a disaster. I don’t agree with but can understand Pages and Numbers. They are light weight programs. You can always buy something better, but Keynote is (was) THE top of the line presentation software and they have crippled it. There is nothing more powerful that I can use instead. I am sick about this.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up about Vectorworks!
      I was itching to upgrade to Mavericks this weekend, but I can’t afford to disrupt my ability to work while juggling projects.

      I wonder if doing a clean install of 10.8 before running the 10.9 upgrade would do the trick?

      I’m running 2013, but just spend nearly $1500 on the VW Designer 2014 upgrade. Nemetschek sure is avaricious!

    1. iWork will be just like the iMovie ’06 to ’08 change, or the Final Cut 7 to Final Cut X. Apple strips it to the ground and rebuilds it. It just takes time. I’m betting iWork will be getting many frequent updates now that it is inline with the iOS versions.

  3. I have one answer for all the upgrade woes… Time Machine. I upgraded and xCode 4.6 crashed. I am not ready to make the move completely to xCode 5 (5.0.1 is buggy and crashes) completely. So I Command-R’d on startup and returned back to yesterday’s copy of 10.8. I will be patient and let Apple work out the bugs. On my retina, I do have Mavericks loaded, because this is a true xCode 5 (still not 5.0.1) machine and everything is solid.
    Time Machine is your friend, use it or lose it!

  4. Not that I visit the darkside very often but VM Ware is working. And applications on virtual Windows 7 are working, except Bing desktop! No problems with speed on the MB air; quite the reverse, Finder is much the same speed, iPhoto and Aperture are opening and closing faster under Mavericks. Word for Mac reloaded fonts first start up, now as per usual (bloody Microsoft innit!)

    Favourite new thing is iBooks. Smooth as butter and beautiful display of ebook text. Maps is OK but still needs some new imagery for OZ (many sat images are still in black and white). Seem to be using Garmin road maps here since I noticed the same error Maps and my Garmin (with a double up of a local road).

    Improved battery use so far. Printers (Brother laser and Canon inkjet) and scanners still working on both WiFi and USB.

    Which only goes to show: Mileage may vary. I have did a full TimeMachine backup just before install (of course).

  5. Just to add something that got “unbroken” by Mavericks: ImageCapture-scanned images would not pass on to Abbey Finereader under ML; for whatever reason it does now! [Before I had to save the files (or use Abbey with USB as there’s no Twain for Canon over WiFi) then convert, now it’s one less step.]

  6. 10.9 is working beautifully on my 2008 unibody Macbook. I went straight from Snow Leopard to Mavericks. The only thing critical that broke was Fugu SFTP client. Does anyone know a good Mac SFTP client that works with Mavericks? I’m presently just using the SFTP command line in Terminal.

  7. -Cannot open folders in new window by double-clicking anymore… I need and want this !
    -iTunes cannot sync address book data between my Mac and iPhone anymore. What a greatest BS.
    -Sometimes I open desktop HD, and folder shows no content. buggy?.
    First OSX Update since many years, that makes me feeling sad. Update was free, but when they would have charged, it would be money for nothing.

    1. 1 – when using Finder press ⌘ with , key this launches prefs pane – untick checkbox that says open folders in tabs instead of new windows. When you go open a folder hold the ⌘ key when double clicking, this opens the folder in a new window.

      2 – definitely use a free iCloud account to do this from now on it is so much better than having to sync via the cable or wifi

      3 – Sounds strange, if this is your first OSX upgrade for years I imagine your hardware is fairly old as well? Could be due to low amount of RAM or also if it was upgraded rather than fresh install could be having issues with preference files etc. A good test to see if issues are hardware or software related is to create a new user account in system preferences and see if you still suffer from the same issues when logged into the fresh account.

  8. My favorite upgrade is the faster typing. Keyboard response in Cocoa textfields has always been slightly laggy compared to something simpler like Terminal, but now typing everywhere in the UI feels more crisp and immediate.

    Coders and writers will find this improvement very refreshing.

  9. It seems to work okay for me. No major, noticeable improvements or losses. iBooks? Meh. I don’t read books on my computer anyway. Maps? Cool. Kinda fun to play with. The whole keychain thing is likely to be nice, but I doubt I’ll notice it much.

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