Get Yosemite fea­tures on OS X 10.9

Find out how to re­vamp your Mac’s look and feel, take calls on your Mac, and much more

Mac Format - - OS X YOSEMITE -

Agreat thing about Macs is the fan­tas­tic soft­ware de­vel­op­ers cre­ate. They of­ten try to solve com­mon prob­lems and im­prove your Mac ex­pe­ri­ence – just like Ap­ple. Log­i­cally, then, their ideas some­times mir­ror Ap­ple’s own – and this hand­ily en­ables im­me­di­ate ac­cess to fea­tures re­sem­bling those Ap­ple will ship in OS X Yosemite this au­tumn.

Be­fore we delve into apps and util­i­ties, be mind­ful some al­ter how your Mac works. We’ve never had is­sues with any of the prod­ucts men­tioned, but it pays to be safe, so back-up be­fore us­ing them. Also, set ex­pec­ta­tions ac­cord­ingly, be­cause some so­lu­tions lack the pol­ish and in­te­gra­tion of what was on show at WWDC. That said, sev­eral third-party util­i­ties go be­yond what Ap­ple has an­nounced.


Yosemite’s most ob­vi­ous change is to its in­ter­face, which em­braces the min­i­mal­ism favoured by Ap­ple de­sign head Jony Ive. Win­dows, icons and the Dock are sim­pler, there’s an op­tional ‘dark’ theme, and the sys­tem font is a Hel­vetica vari­ant.

There doesn’t ap­pear to be a sim­ple way to add a dark theme to OS X, but the other el­e­ments can be brought to your Mac with vary­ing amounts of ef­fort. The big­gest – chang­ing the gen­eral in­ter­face – is in fact the eas­i­est. In­stall Flavours (about £12, flavours. in­ter­, click ‘Get More’ and browse the com­mu­nity-made OS X themes. Search for ‘OS X Yosemite’ and you’ll find Cullen Card’s cre­ation of the same name, based on Ap­ple’s up­com­ing up­date. Click Ap­ply and this ‘flavour’ will be in­stalled; lo­gout and lo­gin for it to take ef­fect. (To re­vert at any point, turn Flavours off and lo­gout/lo­gin.)

Al­though not iden­ti­cal to Yosemite (there’s no trans­parency, for ex­am­ple, and the but­tons are a bit dif­fer­ent), Cullen’s work is a close match — al­though if you think you can do bet­ter, you can click Cre­ate and de­sign your own theme!


Flavours does not of­fer dark themes – al­though dark menu back­grounds are pos­si­ble, you can’t in­vert the text colour. How­ever, there are ways to in­vert the menu bar alone. Ob­sid­ian Menu Bar (do­na­tion­ware, ob­sid­i­an­ is a sim­ple hack that makes your menu bar go dark, and (for the most part) makes your menu bar ex­tras white, so they re­main vis­i­ble. (The de­vel­oper sug­gests WhiteClock – taim­ down­loads – or iS­tat Menus – mac/is­tat­menus – to get a work­ing clock.)

An al­ter­nate op­tion is Aaron Olive’s Noc­turne Theme (aarono­­ Noc­turne-Theme-For-OS-X-10-9-x-326453358), which also helps with an­other item on the Yosemite wish-list: fonts. Us­ing the Noc­turne in­staller, you can se­lect a new sys­tem font, along with a few vari­a­tions re­gard­ing how the dark menu bar will ap­pear. We must warn,

how­ever, that this hack to­tally swaps out OS X’s ex­ist­ing Lu­cida Grande sys­tem font for a ver­sion of Hel­vetica (or some other font, should you choose an al­ter­na­tive), and so do not use the theme if you’re re­liant on Lu­cida Grande in any way.


Al­though it’s a bit of a faff, Noc­turne also pro­vides a means to get a Hel­vetica sys­tem font with­out the black menu bar. To do this, in­stall Noc­turne and se­lect Hel­vetica Neue from the Fonts op­tions. Lo­gout and lo­gin for this to take ef­fect. Next, go to Sys­tem/Li­brary/ Fonts/ and copy Lu­ci­daGrande.ttc (which is Noc­turne’s spe­cial Hel­vetica ver­sion of that file) to your desk­top. Then use Noc­turne’s unin­staller to re­move the theme. (You’ll need to restart af­ter do­ing so.)

Re­turn to the Fonts folder and copy Lu­ci­daGrande.ttc (which is now the orig­i­nal ver­sion) to an­other folder on your Mac. Keep it

Yosemite’s most ob­vi­ous change is its min­i­mal in­ter­face: a clas­sic Jony Ive de­sign if ever we saw one

safe; you’ll need this file if you later want to re­vert your Mac to its de­fault state. Copy the ‘Hel­vetica’ Lu­ci­daGrande.ttc from your desk­top to the Fonts folder, se­lect­ing Re­place in the Copy di­a­log. You’ll need to log out and log back in again, but then you’ll have a Mac full of Hel­vetica, al­beit bereft of Lu­cida Grande. (It’s very easy to re­vert this pro­ce­dure – just copy the orig­i­nal Lu­ci­daGrande.ttc back into the Fonts folder.)


App icons and the Dock pro­vide fin­ish­ing touches to an in­ter­face re­vamp. For icons, use LiteI­con (free, freemac­ litei­con). Drag ICNS files to rel­e­vant slots, click Ap­ply Changes, and clear the icon cache and lo­gout when prompted; changes will oc­cur when you next log in. To later re­vert an icon, drag it off of its well and click Ap­ply Changes; to re­store Mav­er­icks sys­tem icons, use Tools > Re­store All Sys­tem Icons; note: app icons must be re­moved in­di­vid­u­ally. To source icons, a search en­gine will un­earth ones es­sen­tially iden­ti­cal to Yosemite’s. De­viantArt also has de­sign­ers pro­vid­ing free icons that suit a Yosemite-style Mac set-up.

The Dock could orig­i­nally be made 2D us­ing a Ter­mi­nal com­mand, but that changed in Mav­er­icks. For­tu­nately, cDock (free, source­ pro­vides some­thing sim­i­lar. Launch it, se­lect In­stall Cus­tom­iz­a­ble Dock and click Okay. You’ll see two Tex­tEdit documents: set­tings info.txt de­notes what the num­bers mean; dock_ set­tings.txt is for con­fig­ur­ing the Dock.

Be­cause the Mav­er­icks Dock lacks a frosted glass ef­fect, you need to fake this by mak­ing the Dock grey and quite opaque. Adding a cor­ner ra­dius and sub­tle shadow adds to the Yosemite feel and helps the Dock stand out. We used the fol­low­ing num­bers in dock­_set­tings. txt: 135, 135, 155, 80, 0, 0, 0, 0, 5, 0, 10, 80, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0. You can at any point save dock_ set­tings.txt and click the cDock menu ex­tra to restart the Dock and view changes. When done, quit the menu ex­tra.

Note that cDock doesn’t work well if the Dock’s at its small­est size and may need

reap­ply­ing af­ter a restart. It also doesn’t have cus­tom app in­di­ca­tors, but you can add those with MacUtil (free, rus­sell­ home). Click ‘Change’ next to ‘Change in­di­ca­tor light colour for open ap­pli­ca­tions’ and load a cus­tom PNG; if you cre­ate a 7px PNG with a cen­tred anti-aliased 3px black cir­cle yourself, it should work well.


Most Yosemite up­dates be­yond the in­ter­face are about ef­fi­ciency. For ex­am­ple, the green ‘zoom’ but­ton makes a win­dow full-screen; Right Zoom (free, blaz­ing­­zoom_­mac.html) pro­vides sim­i­lar fo­cus by mak­ing the zoom but­ton max­imise a win­dow — not quite Yosemite’s full-screen set­ting, but close. Moom ($10, boasts even more win­dow-man­age­ment tricks.

Our favourite Yosemite pro­duc­tiv­ity fea­ture, though, is tak­ing iPhone calls on your Mac. Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, apps al­ready ex­ist that en­able such func­tion­al­ity. The cheaper op­tion is Con­nect (£1.49, con­nect­, which af­ter you pair your iPhone with your Mac over Blue­tooth pro­vides a ba­sic in­ter­face sim­i­lar to the one found in Yosemite; Phone Amego (£20.99, sust­ is far more con­fig­urable, and in­te­grates with a se­lec­tion of CRM/con­tact apps and launch­ers. In use, we found both had a slight de­lay, but it was man­age­able and largely off­set by the con­ve­nience of us­ing the Mac for an­swer­ing and di­alling.

The other big com­mu­ni­ca­tions over­haul in Yosemite in­volves Mail, which in­cludes an­no­ta­tions and the means to route mas­sive files through iCloud, which are then di­rectly in­te­grated into mes­sages if the re­cip­i­ent’s also us­ing Mail. (If not, they get a down­load link.) If you want to be able to send big files eas­ily over email in Mav­er­icks, use Car­goLifter ($8.95, chung­wa­ car­golifter), which, un­like Ap­ple’s take, al­lows you to se­lect the cloud ser­vice you pre­fer. You can also set a cus­tom min­i­mum size for mes­sages to be sent in this man­ner.

Email an­no­ta­tions will be an even more use­ful ad­di­tion for many people. Yosemite’s im­ple­men­ta­tion is user­friendly and built into Mail, but is also very ba­sic in that it burns an­no­ta­tions into an im­age. Ap­ple’s own Pre­view al­ready of­fers sim­i­lar func­tion­al­ity in Mav­er­icks, but you can save the an­no­ta­tions (which re­main ed­itable) as a PDF, while also shar­ing the re­sult­ing doc­u­ment to Mail as a flat­tened im­age – it in­volves more steps, but is ac­tu­ally a bet­ter op­tion in many ways.


And fi­nally, we need to talk about file man­age­ment. Spot­light in Yosemite, for find­ing files, gets a rad­i­cal up­date, mov­ing it to the cen­tre of the screen and ramp­ing up its fea­ture set. As long­time Al­fred users (free/£17, al­, we got a dis­tinct feel­ing of déjà vu upon watch­ing the WWDC Spot­light demo. Al­fred looks sim­i­lar and makes it easy to rapidly search your Mac, get­ting in-con­text re­sults re­lat­ing to search terms or when drilling down into a spe­cific app. Un­like Spot­light, though, Al­fred has file man­age­ment and mul­ti­ple clip­board ca­pa­bil­i­ties, is ex­ten­si­ble, and sup­ports com­plex work­flows. We’d al­ways con­sid­ered Al­fred a kind of ‘Spot­light Pro’, and Yosemite’s Spot­light re­vamp makes that com­par­i­son even more valid.

Our favourite ad­di­tion is that you can add a ver­sion of Air­Drop that works in a cross plat­form man­ner

When it comes to stor­age, iCloud in Yosemite opens up with iCloud Drive, so in­stead of documents solely liv­ing ‘within’ apps, you get a file sys­tem ac­ces­si­ble across de­vices. How­ever, Drop­box (from free, drop­ has wider plat­form sup­port, yet also in­te­grates well with OS X: your Drop­box folder ap­pears in Finder side­bars and open/ save di­a­log boxes, and you can op­tion­ally au­to­mat­i­cally send cam­era up­loads and screen grabs to the ser­vice. It will also be sup­ported by iOS 8’s new ex­panded stor­age op­tions for apps, so will be al­most as flex­i­ble as iCloud Drive across de­vices.

Our fi­nal, and per­haps our favourite, Yosemite ad­di­tion that you can add to­day is a ver­sion of Air­Drop that works like Air­Drop al­ways should have – cross plat­form. If you don’t fancy wait­ing un­til the au­tumn to eas­ily and in­stantly send files be­tween your Mac and an iPhone or iPad, check out In­stashare (£2.49, in­; along with its free iOS client (or a 69p ad-free ver­sion), shar­ing is just a ques­tion of drag-and-drop – this means no more email­ing files to yourself, or wait­ing for them to show up on­line!

If you’re not keen on ex­ist­ing Flavours themes, it’s rel­a­tively

sim­ple to de­sign your own. A com­bi­na­tion of all our in­ter­face tweaks has a good crack at im­per­son­at­ing Yosemite. Yosemite themes ex­ist in Flavours, but there are also plenty of al­ter­na­tives to try. There’s no dark theme in Mav­er­icks, but a dark menu bar’s pos­si­ble with Ob­sid­ian Menu Bar.

Noc­turne is use­ful for swap­ping out the OS X sys­tem font for a Hel­vetica al­ter­na­tive.

If you can find some Yosemite icons on­line, LiteI­con en­ables you to use them in Mav­er­icks.

Al­though cDock’s not ex­actly user-friendly, the app works nicely for sim­pli­fy­ing your Dock.

Mail in Yosemite gets natty new an­no­ta­tion tools, but you can al­ready an­no­tate in Pre­view.

We al­ways felt that Al­fred was a bit like a ‘Spot­light Pro’; with Yosemite, the com­par­i­son’s more overt.

There’s no need to wait to share files be­tween iOS and OS X – you can just use In­stashare in­stead.

Con­nect and Phone Amego both en­able you to take and make iPhone calls us­ing your Mac.

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