OS X Yosemite: The Quintessential Review

| In-Depth Review

On October 16, Apple released OS X Yosemite which is version 10.10. I have been beta testing since the first developer release and also testing with iOS 8. Here is everything that I learned and how I've sized up this stellar OS X release.


OS X Yosemite 10.10 is the latest version of Apple's Macintosh operating system. It has descended from a long, distinguished line of Apple OSes that started with a public beta in September of 2000 and then the release of Mac OS X Cheetah 10.0 in March of 2001. Apple has dropped the "Mac" prefix and generally doesn't refer to version numbers anymore. That's why the new release is just called OS X Yosemite.

For a time, we all wondered what would happen after OS X Mavericks 10.9 because that's the end of the 10s. But long ago, Apple let on that it has no problem with versions 10.10 and 10.11 and so on. So much for changing from OS X to OS XI. "Ten" is the thing, and that's where we'll stay. Even Microsoft likes the sound of "ten" with the dramatic jump from WIndows 8 to Windows 10.

As usual, you'll want to make sure you have a Time Machine back-up of your boot drive before you install Yosemite. For a list of Macs that will run this new OS, see Jeff Gamet's "List of Macs That Will Run Yosemite." When you're ready to upgrade, you'll find Yosemite in Apple Menu -> App Store... Yosemite is free.

The goal of this review is to provide a guided tour of my experiences with OS X Yosemite.  It's not a detailed instruction manual. Rather, it's intended to help you size up this new OS from Apple and make an early or deferred decision to upgrade. 

Next - Why Should You Upgrade?

Product: OS X Yosemite 10.10

Company: Apple

List Price: Free



Lots of very usable features that will likely become signature OS X features: AirDrop, making phone calls via the iPhone, SMS messages via the iPhone, better search, and iCloud Drive. The public beta made for good install experience at launch. A quantum jump to a beautiful, low-key GUI. Not heavy on agenda and annoyances. A free upgrade.


Some features require a meticulous set up and can be unreliable or slow in operation. Change in full screen operational method unnecessary. AIrDrop with IOS didn't work until iOS 8.1.

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Great review. smile

I’m liking it a lot - I feel that it really realizes the potential that’s been lingering for a number of years now. The newer features of the last couple of OS X versions are actually finally genuinely useful to me. Prior to this I was constantly turning things off or disabling them via terminal commands (this is the first time I’ve gotten had any real use for Notification Center, for example) or using third party tools, largely ignoring what was baked into OS X, and this time around I feel my workflow has legitimately benefited. I wholeheartedly agree that things like Airdrop and the cohesion of functionality across devices are more dramatic than they may at first seem to be - this is the realization of the promise presented by the original iPhone (i.e. devices as interconnected hubs all working seamlessly together across a wide variety of forms and screens), in my opinion. I also really enjoy the aesthetic changes, though I am one of those that really liked the interface changes in iOS 7 as well, I expect mileage will vary on that point.

Great job, Apple. smile

Dorkus Maximus

This is a terrific review, not just because of the completeness and clarity, but for the honesty in admitting that many assessments are subjective. So many reviewers fashion themselves to be such experts that they fail to acknowledge that the folks putting together the reviewed product have some expertise as well.

A little humility goes a long way in earning a reader’s trust.


Absolutely agreed, Dorkus. And hey -  I apologize for the bad grammar - I miss the ability to edit posts! wink

Paul Goodwin

Nice review John. Thanks. You put quite an effort into it and it shows. I almost volunteered to be a public Beta tester, but since my iMac was a mid-2010, I decided to be a wait-‘til-the-dust-settles guy. I just got an iPhone 5s about 9 months ago, and I’ m not too sure I want to saddle it with the new OS without having an new Mac. There’s a lot of great features there that I’d like to use, but I’m not sure I want to slow down both of my devices to take advantage yet. Oh well, it’ll be great when I get the two newer machines.

Again, thanks for a good article.


Why is TextEdit quitting after closing the last window? It was bad enough Pages, Number and Keynote did it but now TextEdit too. It feels like I’m on Windows!


My previous post got deleted, so I restate how bad the new colors, fonts and contrast hurt my eyes, much less readable so I’m going back to Mavericks (MacBook Pro 17’ 2011).


Very nice review. It reminds me to dig in a little and try the new features. What I like is that my workflow doesn’t have to change, I can just fit in the new things as I need them. (Airdrop etc.)

But the interface seems uneven to me. The change to Helvetica Neue refines the look of the text portion of the interface, but the flat cartoony colors seem to cheapen it; that goofy grin the finder icon has is a little creepy and off-putting.

by the way, I never e-mailed photos from my iPhone to my Mac, I always just waited for them to sync to iPhoto. It’s never taken more than a minute or two.

Lee Dronick

Why is TextEdit quitting after closing the last window? It was bad enough Pages, Number and Keynote did it but now TextEdit too. It feels like I’m on Windows!

I am not experiencing that with TextEdit and Numbers (I don’t use KeyNote), but I have with some other programs. And yes, it is Windowy.

  I restate how bad the new colors, fonts and contrast hurt my eyes, much less readable

I too don’t care much for the new look, it doesn’t “pop.” It isn’t a deal breaker for me just, that I think Mr. Ive took things too far the other way from skeumorphism and rich colors. The Increase Contrast checkbox in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences helps in some ways, but seems to make things worse in others so I turned it back off.

I installed Yosemite yesterday so I am still getting used to it, 20” iMac, early 2008. This weekend I will install it on my 15’ MacBook Pro, Mid 2010.


Paul Goodwin

Lee - how does your 2008 iMac do with it? Is it slower?


@Lee Dronick   Open TexTEdit in Yosemite, it will open a blank new doc, close that empty doc and then switch to another app. TextEdit goes away from the Dock.

Lee Dronick

Paul it doesn’t seem any slower, but to be sure this thing is starting to lose compression and a ring job won’t fix it. I am hoping to win the MacObserver Deals contest and get the Apple Display so that I have an excuse to buy a new Mac Mini.

JustCause I just tried what you describe and indeed it looks like TextEdit quit, but I think that it is just an indication that no file is open. Activity Monitor shows that TextEdit is running. See if that is the case for you.

John Martellaro

JustCause:  I’m not seeing the behavior you described.  TextEdit is acting as expected for me.

Paul Goodwin

Lee. put some Bardahl in it. I like the new Mini too. Sure wish Apple made a 21.5” or 23” monitor.


@Lee Dronick good observation TextEdit is still running (according to Activity Monitor) . That makes it even more bizarre, that it only goes away from the Dock (Keynote & Numbers are the same, also running but gone from the Dock).

@John Martellaro,what Mac are you trying it on? Mine is MacBook Pro 17” 2011 with a clean install of Yosemite. Maybe it’s only older Macs?  Still dreaming that Apple will bring back a 17” MacBook with more ports grin

Lee Dronick

Open apps have that black dot underneath their icon on the dock, an indication that they are open.  What I am seeing with TextEdit is that the black dot goes away when you follow the steps JustCause describes. I have TextEdit permanently docked so the icon stays on the dock even though the dot is gone. Now when I try this Pages that is not permanently docked the icon puffs off the dock, but Activity Monitor shows it still open/running.


I guess I need to try the TextEdit (Numbers, Keynote) issue on the latest hardware and see what happens grin


Tested this on numerous demo systems at Apple Store and Microcenter, reproducible every time.

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