OS X Mavericks 1
Apple software chief Craig Federighi said on Tuesday that its new OS X Mavericks is immediately available as a free download. Apple

Amidst announcements for new iPads and Macs, Apple on Tuesday also reintroduced its latest operating system for the Mac, OS X 10.9 “Mavericks,” and also released the new platform the same day for all Mac users -- for free.

But even though the free Mavericks platform looks like a slight upgrade to OS X, there are many important features hidden below the surface. According to Apple, OS X Mavericks comes with more than 200 new features. We won't detail all the changes in OS X Mavericks here, but we will highlight the five features all Mac users need to know about with the new OS X Mavericks.

1. iCloud Keychain

For the release of iOS 7, Apple created the iCloud Keychain as a built-in feature for its Safari browser, which can remember site logins, passwords, and even credit card information across all iOS devices. The iCloud Keychain is designed to help users who have many different passwords for many different websites, and even auto-suggests passwords for new websites to improve one’s own online security.

Apple removed the iCloud Keychain feature in the gold master of iOS 7, but reintroduced the feature at Tuesday’s media event. In OS X Mavericks, users simply need to visit their Settings app, click on “iCloud,” and toggle the iCloud Keychain. Apple will send a code to one of your other mobile devices that uses the iCloud Keychain (an iPhone or iPad running iOS 7), and you simply confirm the code on your Mac for the setting to take effect. Once it does, users won’t need to remember their usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers for multiple websites across every device.

2. Tabs and Tags

Mac OS X users are used to looking at their files in separate windows, but with OS X Mavericks, Apple has merged these windows into orderly tabs, each one fitted with its own Custom View setting; windows can also be merged, and tabs can be reorganized to one's liking by dragging and dropping, even in full-screen mode. Users can save their documents with as many tags as they want, either previously listed or created on the fly, which makes it exceedingly easy to search through one’s files later. These two new features may be slight, but they're incredibly powerful in organizing one's materials in OS X Mavericks.

3. A much-improved Safari

Apple’s Safari browser may not be the most popular Web crawler, but for the release of OS X Mavericks, Apple made a major effort to make the app a faster and more effective competitor to Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers. Browsing through bookmarks, favorite sites and even links shared by others via social networks on Safari for OS X Mavericks is extremely easy, and it’s all organized directly on the home page. Behind the scenes, Apple and Adobe have protected customers by sandboxing all Flash Players, which means the browser features unique security mechanisms that can disallow hidden viruses or malware within the Adobe software from harming the host device. And, of course, Safari for OS X Mavericks works with iCloud Keychain so you’ll never have to blame your faulty memory for having the same password for every site, or never being able to remember your various passwords.

4. Great efficiency, better battery life

In OS X Mavericks, Apple now offers much-improved battery life for all Mac users, regardless of their computer’s make, model, or even year. Apple made significant improvements to the power efficiency in OS X Mavericks, thanks to a handful of new features and technologies like Compressed Memory, which rapidly compresses inactive memory used by the computer to give free space to any application in use; Timer Coalescing, which reduces the level of CPU interruptions and transitions by up to 72 percent from OS X Mountain Lion; and App Nap, which puts unused apps to “sleep” automatically. And better yet, OS X Mavericks (like iOS 7) can also automatically install app updates in the background, and can even apply required-restart updates between sleeping hours (2 a.m. to 5 a.m.) with the new “Try Tonight” option; consumers who have purchased a Mac in 2012 or 2013 enjoy extended Power Nap support, which can update apps while the Mac is asleep. On average, Mac users should notice an average of two more hours of battery life thanks to OS X Mavericks, according to an exhaustive review by John Siracusa of Ars Technica.

5. More Popular Features From iOS

Over the years, Apple has sought to merge its popular mobile operating system (iOS) with its desktop operating system (OS X). For the release of OS X Mavericks, Apple brings these two ecosystems even closer together with more effective notifications, which can be responded to directly within the notification; Do Not Disturb, which disallows notifications to any user’s exact specifications; Apple Maps, which includes all the same features from iOS (for better or worse) and can even send directions to your iPhone for turn-by-turn directions once you hit the road; iBooks, which also allows users to highlight text, make notes and study cards; and the new iWork and iLife suites, which are now free across iOS and OS X and are much more similar to each other (again, for better or worse).

Mac OS X Mavericks is a free download from the Mac App Store, which is available on any Mac. Best of all, Mac users can upgrade to OS X Mavericks from any of the last three OS X builds, including OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), OS X Lion (10.7), and OS X Snow Leopard (10.6.8). For users of OS X Leopard, Apple users will need to purchase and upgrade to Snow Leopard before upgrading again to OS X Mavericks.

What are your thoughts on OS X Mavericks? Have you experienced any issues thus far? What are your favorite features, if any, of the new operating system? Sound off in the comments section below.

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