Tue 10/21 Yosemite Treasures

I am not a fan of OS X’s new look, I don’t keep my documents in iCloud, and I don’t own an iPhone. Yosemite’s colorful new icons, iCloud Drive, and Continuity features do little for me. On the surface it would appear there are very few reasons why I should upgrade to the latest version of Mac OS X.

But OS X Yosemite is more than just makeup, online storage, and mobile integration. Here are a couple of Yosemite’s hidden treasures that might interest Mac OS X fans like myself who are not completely sold on the rest of Apple’s ecosystem.

Dictation

Star Trek showed us a computer that could answer our every command. With each new release, Mac OS X gets one step closer to reaching that fantasy. When Siri made its debut to the Mac in Mountain Lion, one of the loudest criticisms was that it did not understand enough commands; especially while editing text. Now with the release of Yosemite, Mac OS X understands over 50 editing and formatting commands for Dictation.

So you can turn on Dictation and tell your Mac to bold a paragraph, delete a sentence, or replace a word. You can change your mind as many times as you want to.

And if that wasn’t enough…

OS X Yosemite includes a new Automator template for creating voice-activated workflows, available whenever and wherever OS X dictation is used.

OS X Yosemite is far from Star Trek. But for the first time Mac users will be able to issue extensible commands and edit text using only their voice and without the need of expensive third-party voice recognition software.

AirDrop

I won’t be using Yosemite’s Handoff features to move anything from iOS to my Mac, but I may be using Yosemite’s new Apple ID authenticated AirDrop feature to move files fast between my laptop and my desktop.

Automatic download When you use AirDrop to send a file between two devices that have the same Apple ID, the file is automatically downloaded on the receiving device, making it quick and easy to send files between two of your own devices.

Faster than Dropbox, no wireless network required, more convenient than beaming a business card from my Newton.

Family Sharing Calendar

One of the hardest parts of running a family is picking a calendaring solution. With Mac OS X Yosemite the choice is easy, and all of your family members can see the same events without having to sign-up for a third-party service.

A family calendar is automatically set up in Calendar for all members in the Family Sharing account through iCloud. Each member can see and edit events.

Batch Rename

I can’t tell you how many times I have setup the same Automator workflow just to quickly rename some files. Now with OS X Yosemite, Batch renaming files is built right into the Finder.

Quickly rename a set of files in the Finder. Select the files and choose Rename. You can also add custom text and numbers to each filename.

Mail Drop

Sending large attachements over email is another task I use Dropbox for. But with OS X Yosemite, Mail.app and iCloud takes care of the heaving lifting so I can concentrate on my correspondance.

Mail Drop makes it easy to send large attachments — perfect for sharing videos, presentations, and folders of images via email. With Mail Drop, you can send messages of up to 5GB.

Auto Shapes

Finally one of the Newton’s most impressive features makes it way back to the Mac.

You can use your trackpad to draw shapes, and Preview will intelligently tidy them up.

Don’t be surprised if you find a stylus shipping with future MacBooks.

Video Support

For years iOS has been able to play videos on popular websites without the need of plug-ins like Flash ot Silverlight. Finally Apple is bringing that feature back to the Mac without spoofing the user agent and tricking the browser into loading the mobile version of a webpage.

You can watch Netflix, most YouTube videos, and content from other video sites in Safari without plug-ins.

With energy-efficient native video playback for Netflix, Safari lets you watch Netflix videos for up to three hours longer than before.

SMB 3

Mavericks made Microsoft’s SMB 2 the default way to share files on Mac OS X. OS X Yosemite supports the latest in Windows file sharing, SMB 3.

SMB 3 provides end-to-end encryption to protect data and secure communication on untrusted networks. SMB 3 in OS X Yosemite uses AES-CCM for encryption to ensure that communications between client and server are private.

OS X Yosemite supports persistent handles for transparent failover and reconnects to enterprise SMB 3 file servers.

If you work in a Windows environment SMB 3 is a big deal. It keeps your communications safe and your fileshares mounted, even after your Mac wakes from sleep.

Auto-Install OS X Updates

Mavericks gave users the choice to have their App Store purchases automatically updated each time a new version is released. OS X Yosemite now supports the same choice for system and security updates, keeping you Mac up-to-date.

You can choose to have OS X updates installed automatically after they have been downloaded. Your Mac will restart and appear just as you left it.

Projector Calibrator

Far too often connecting to the meeting room projector is still a task that requires a call to the IT department. With the release of OS X Yosemite, Apple hopes to make those calls a rare occurrence.

When using a projector, an onscreen calibrator allows you to fine-tune the projected image for the room’s lighting conditions.

Now if only Yosemite could come with an infinite number of Mini Displayport adapters. I know our IT department goes through them like candy.