OS X version 10.9, called "Mavericks," was released in October 2013, as a free update.
More information on Mavericks is in John Siracusa's 24-web-page Ars Technica review.
The latest version of Mac OS X is version 10.12, "Sierra", released in September 2016.
This note describes how to update a computer from an older version of MacOS to OS X 10.9 Mavericks.
It may be difficult to obtain Mavericks from the Apple website now that OS X version 10.10 (Yosemite) is available.
Apple released a "Mail update for Mavericks" on 7 November 2013, fixing some issues with Gmail.
Apple released OS X 10.9.1 on 18 December 2013, fixing more Mail problems and performance issues.
Apple released OS X 10.9.2 on 25 February 2014, fixing more Mail problems and a serious security bug.
Apple released OS X 10.9.3 on 15 May 2014, fixing more Mail problems.
Apple released OS X 10.9.4 on 30 June 2014, fixing more problems. Early reports are that performance is improved.
Apple released OS X 10.9.5 on 18 September 2014, fixing more problems.
Several Security Updates have also been released for Mavericks, the most recent being Security Update 2015-008 on 08 Dec 2015.
(6/6/14) According to MacInTouch, some users of older Macs report serious performance problems with Mavericks.
Macs without Solid State Disks (SSDs) see longer boot times and slow Finder performance compared to previous versions.
Thanks to Marv Schaefer and Elizabeth Neumann for their reports of experience with Mavericks.
New Features of Mavericks
Apple says there are more than 200 new features of Mavericks.
Some users say that the new OS is more responsive and provides better battery life.
The iCloud Keychain
lets you save selected passwords on your iCloud account, and use them from multiple devices.
You can enter a username/password combination on one Apple device, sync it to all other devices, and have it auto-completed when you need to use it.
The new Safari will offer to generate and save long passwords.
Should I Install Mavericks?
If your computer is working now, there is no urgent need to change your OS, until you want the new features, or continuing security updates.
Apple will probably drop support for older versions of OS X eventually.
Using an unsupported OS will still work, but if security problems are found in an unsupported version, Apple will not patch them.
Eventually, companies will write software that requires features of the latest Apple OS,
and someday you may want to buy and use some of that software.
Apple has released versions of iPhoto that will not work on earlier versions of the OS.
Microsoft Office 2016 will not work on Mavericks: it requires Yosemite or later.
If your current Macintosh fails and you have to buy a new one,
you'll end up migrating to Mavericks whether you were ready or not.
When you update, clone your hard drive first, because there is no way to downgrade once Mavericks is installed.
There was considerable discussion on MacInTouch.com about poor performance with Mavericks, as mentioned above.
I haven't seen any issues.
What you Should Do Now to Get Ready for Mavericks
- Use Software Update to keep all Apple software up to date, including the OS.
- Apply all free updates to other software you use.
- Set up an external hard drive and use Time Machine.
- Add more RAM if you can.
- Fix damaged and duplicate fonts.
- Use Disk Utility to repair permissions on your hard drive.
If you are running a version of Mac OS X earlier than Snow Leopard, you will have to install Snow Leopard first.
You can buy an installer disc for Snow Leopard from Apple's web site for $20.
Who Can Update
Not every Mac can use the new OS version.
In general, if your Mac can run Mountain Lion, it can run Mavericks.
If you have a Mac that can't boot and run with 64-bit addressing, Mavericks won't work on it.
Mavericks also requires fairly recent video cards.
See the list online at the Apple web site that specifies what Mac models can run Mavericks.
If your computer does not meet these requirements, stick with OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion), or 10.8 (Mountain Lion).
- You need at least 2GB of memory, preferably more.
- Mavericks is only sold through the Mac App Store, which only runs on OS X 10.6.7 or later.
If you depend on PowerPC programs, the latest version of OS X that you can run is Snow Leopard,
since Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks do not support Rosetta, the PowerPC emulator.
See the Frequently Asked Questions section about Mavericks.
Microsoft Office 2004,
and some features of Adobe CS3
will not run on Mavericks.
(See Adobe article.)
Stick with OS X 10.6.8a until you upgrade these applications.
You could install VirtualBox (free) on your Mac, and install 10.6 OSX Server into a virtual machine, and update it to 10.6.8a,
and run your PowerPC programs under the emulated OS. I have tried this, and it works.
- If you depend on the Classic environment to run Mac OS 9 programs from the 1990s, stick with OS X 10.4.
- If you have a Mac with a PowerPC processor, Mavericks won't work on it. Stick with OS X 10.5.8.
You can't install Mavericks over an ancient version of OS X:
Apple's license terms specify that Mavericks is only for Macs that have Lion, Mountain Lion, or Snow Leopard installed, and the installer enforces this.
Old printers and scanners may not work if the manufacturer has not updated the driver software.
Those with PowerPC or 32-bit drivers will not work.
The Apple USB Modem (discontinued in 2009) is not supported. Its drivers use 32-bit addressing and Mavericks is 64-bit.
Plan your install
When you decide to install Mavericks, do it carefully.
You may find that there are issues that affect you: do your homework.
Check MacInTouch to see if there are problems with OS X 10.9 that affect you.
Make sure you back up your entire disk before starting to install Mavericks.
Make a list of the hardware you depend on, and search the web to check that each device will work.
Older printers and scanners can have issues.
Leave yourself enough time.
Upgrading will tie up your computer for a big part of a day.
Installing takes an hour or two, but then your computer will want to re-do the Spotlight index and back up to Time Machine.
Finding PowerPC Programs
PowerPC-only programs on your computer will not run on Mavericks.
(System Profiler no longer lists the "Kind" of program in its Applications report.)
To list these programs, open a Terminal window and type
system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType | sed -e 's/ *//' | grep -A4 "Kind: PowerPC" | grep Location > ppc.txt
Many of these programs are not problems: they are leftovers from old software installers
or previous versions of software. For example /Library/Application Support/Adobe/AdobePDF.app. If you have questions, contact the manufacturer.
Particular issues before upgrading
Here is a partial list of minimum program versions needed for Mavericks. For other programs, check product websites.
|Microsoft Office||2008||2011 Home version is about $110|
|Quicken||2007 "Lion Compatible" version 16.1.4||$15 upgrade|
|Adobe Photoshop||CS5||see Adobe site|
|Adobe Illustrator||CS5||see Adobe site|
|Suitcase Fusion||188.8.131.52||$50 upgrade|
|Little Snitch||3.3||$17 upgrade|
|Apple XCode||5.0.1||free with registration|
|Apple OS X Server||3.0||$19.99|
Programs that will not be upgraded: Some device drivers: check with the device manufacturers.
The free software CUPS drivers may work for some printers.
The program PhotoPresenter for Mac will not be updated to work with Mavericks.
Programs that cause serious problems: there is a Safari add-on called Glims that caused major problems with Safari. They have an update.
Features of previous releases no longer supported by Apple: Front Row (search for XBMC);
Time Machine to shared USB drive on Airport Extreme (some say this still appears to work, but why take chances with your backup).
MacInTouch reports that Now Contacts and Now Up-To-Date will not work in 10.9.
(The developer went out of business in 2010.)
There are changes to video playback. If you depend on fancy video codecs, do further research.
AirPort Utility 5.6.1, obsolete for some time, does not work on 10.9.
It had features not provided in AirPort Utility 6, and is needed to support some old AirPort devices.
John Norstad's MT-Newswatcher no longer works, because Open Transport is not supported in Mavericks.
I am sad to see it go.
I have switched to gnus, as supplied with Aquamacs.
Its documentation, configuration process, and user interface are very poor,
but for the few USENET groups I follow it is adequate, and it's free.
Peripherals. The Apple support forums are full of whining by people whose old printers no longer work.
The printer manufacturers do not update every elderly printer driver for new operating systems, so some old printers won't work.
Make sure your printers and scanners will be supported.
Some manufacturers don't release updated drivers for their printers for months after a new OS X release.
I have not upgraded any computer to Mavericks yet,
but I was forced to buy a new one that came with Mavericks,
so I have gone through the post-install steps below.
Clean up and update software before installing.
(If your mac is running an old version of OS X, you must install Snow Leopard 10.6.8 first.
Here is Apple's how to upgrade page.)
Download Mavericks from the Apple App Store. It is free.
This downloads a large file, the Mavericks Installer, to your disk.
You can create a bootable installer volume on a USB key using Apple's instructions.
Apple's license terms say you can update all your computers with one purchase.
- Get the applications on your computer ready for 10.9: apply latest fixes. Remember that PowerPC programs will not work.
- Delete junk files. Carefully.
- Delete Safari, iTunes, and Firefox caches, so your backup will be faster.
If you have customized your desktop background or screensaver, write down your settings.
Some Apple-provided pictures may not be available in the next version.. make a safe copy of anything you will want after upgrading.
- Empty trash.
- Repair disk permissions with Disk Utility.
- Clean up damaged and duplicate fonts.
- If you modified your Apache configuration, save a copy of /etc/apache2/httpd.conf.
If you installed modules via CPAN, Macports, or Fink, make a list of them. In a Terminal window, type
perldoc perllocal | grep :: > cpan_modules.txt and
port -qv installed > macports_packages.txt and
fink list -i | grep -v virtual or dpkg --get-selections | cut -f1 > fink_packages.txt
- Have your software license keys handy in case you have to re-authorize products.
- De-authorize Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
- De-authorize your computer from iTunes.
Backup and prepare.
- If you use MySQL, backup the database with mysqldump databasename > db.sql
BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE to an external disk.
I used SuperDuper to clone my whole drive.
If you installed a third-party Solid State Disk (SSD), check the manufacturer's website to see if you need to update your firmware.
- If you use a wireless mouse or keyboard, put in fresh batteries.
- Set screen saver to NEVER, and turn off Time Machine.
- Dismount and unplug or power off external drives.
- (Some folks think you should boot from a Mavericks install disk at this point and run Disk Utility to repair the hard disk.)
Run the OS X 10.9 installer.
It will run for about 15 minutes, then reboot, then run for about an hour, then reboot again.
(The "time remaining" will show wildly varying estimates as the installer proceeds.)
to update to latest version, then run again to make sure all software is updated. (about another hour)
For installers just downloaded from the Apple Store, this step will may find app updates but any OS update will be included.
Do a "smoke test" to verify that your computer is working OK.
Try out the new applications.
Make sure the ones you depend on are still working.
If you have trouble, restore your backup and go back to the old OS version.
- If you use Little Snitch, you may have to re-enter your license key.
- If you use Microsoft Office, you may have to re-enter your product key.
Re-authorize Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
You may get an error dialogue that says Photoshop CS5 is having trouble starting.
This seems to be related to Java.
Update the Java SE 6 runtime and this problem will go away.
(See Java below.)
- Re-authorize your computer in iTunes.
- Wait for Spotlight to finish indexing (may take several hours). Performance will suck till it finishes.
Turn on Time Machine and start your backup.
Time Machine may complain that it has to discard your old backup and start over, and then do a big backup that takes hours.
- Repair permissions with Disk Utility again.
- Reboot. Often this speeds things up.
Post Install Tasks
If your computer seems slow or buggy, try zapping the PRAM and repairing disk permissions.
Download the Apple Mavericks Recovery Disk Creator tool and burn a recovery disk or USB stick for your computer,
if you did not create a bootable Mavericks DVD.
If you have purchased applications that are version specific, like Cocktail, buy updates and install them.
Clean your font caches.
Turn on FileVault.
You will probably want to set up per-user customizations, such as your desktop background and screensaver.
you may want to adjust the amount of notifications you get. I turned off all the sounds.
click and disable the CAPS LOCK key.
I turned off "correct spelling automatically" under Text because it does crazy stuff sometimes.
I unchecked "scroll direction: natural".
Also do this for Trackpad.
In Mavericks, the Finder will not display your ~/Library folder unless you select your home directory in the sidebar and enable
. (Thanks to Marv Schaefer.)
If you have multiple monitors, you may wish to uncheck
Check that your printers work.
If your printer will not work, you may be able to get it working by selecting
deleting the printer and adding the printer again:
for some printers, this will trigger running Software Update to get new printer software.
For other printers, you will have to download the correct printer driver from the manufacturer's web site.
(My ancient HP printer had no HP-supplied drivers in Mavericks.
Migration selected the open source CUPS driver and I was able to print,
perhaps lacking some features that the old HP driver provided.)
If you have a scanner, plug it in and power it on.
If the scanner appears in Image Capture.
For other scanners, you will have to download the correct scanner driver from the manufacturer's web site.
If manufacturer-supplied software is not available, and Image Capture does not provide enough features,
you may be able to get it working by purchasing and installing VueScan.
(Mail from Epson Support confirmed that Epson does not support Epson Scan for my "4490 Photo" scanner on Mavericks.
Apple Image Capture will drive the scanner with the Image Capture Architecture (ICA) driver, but not with all features.
I bought VueScan ($40), rather than buy a new scanner.
It works OK, and also supports a Nikon film scanner that had no support from Nikon.)
, remove it, and add it again.
For some scanners, this will invoke Software Update to add a driver that will let you operate the scanner with
The situation with Java is a little tricky.
Java is needed for Eclipse and for other Mac applications such as Photoshop CS5.
Java is not dangerous, if you use it to run code you trust.
(The Mavericks installer uninstalled any old versions of Java to make sure you got a clean one.)
I ended up upgrading my Java SE 6 installation using Apple's web page,
and also installing Oracle's Java 1.7.0_55.
When I need it, I will install Java SE 8.
In Terminal, type the command java.
If you don't have a working Java, this will bring up a dialog box:
click to bring up the Oracle JDK installation page in a web browser,
and trigger the installation of the Java runtime from Oracle over the Internet.
If you use your computer for programming or web development, install the (free) Xcode Developer Tools
by typing xcode-select --install in a terminal window, or by installing the whole Xcode package using the App Store.
Then type xcodebuild --license in a terminal window to accept the license.
See my instructions for Fink page. I am using less Fink and more MacPorts.
MacPorts: see my instructions for MacPorts page.
Basically the procedure is to list your ports and uninstall them before upgrade, install the OS, reinstall MacPorts, and reinstall your ports.
I downloaded and installed the 64-bit 5.6.17 development version for OSX 10.9 and reloaded my database.
See my MySQL instructions.
See the instructions for upgrading CPAN.
Install Xcode Developer Tools first.
Having both Fink and Macports installed meant that each installed a copy of Perl 5.16.1, same as the system version.
My CPAN updates went into the library for Macports but many of my Perl programs were using the Fink version.
(Probably I should have configured some variable before doing the CPAN updates. Good luck figuring out how.)
I fixed this by changing the shell environment variable PERL5LIB to include the MacPorts library.
Apache web server:
Apache is still provided with OS X, but is not automatically started.
diff /etc/apache2/httpd.conf against your saved copy.
The new OS install will not carry over your old customizations.
Edit diff /etc/apache2/httpd.conf to insert any changes you need.
PHP is shipped with the OS but disabled in httpd.conf.
I sometimes enable PHP in order to debug programs that will be deployed in safe environments on other computers.
If you enable it, be aware of the risks of making PHP available on the Internet from your Mac, and track and install security updates.
No sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist.
The -w means make it permanent across restarts.
(Or buy and install the Apple OSX Server add-on, which gets you a lot of other stuff too.)
option is provided in .
Start Apache using the terminal command
If you use Apache on your Mac to serve websites to other computers, you must also configure the firewall to allow access from outside.
(I haven't tried this.)
I got a new computer that had Mavericks installed, so I had to move my software from the old failing machine.
Tried to use Setup Assistant to load my Time Machine backup. It crashed. Spent hours on the phone with AppleCare.
Was able to copy most files using a FireWire connection with the old machine in Target Disk Mode.
Submitted a bug report to Apple, who responded that it was a duplicate of another bug.
Firefox would not start: it said my profile was missing or inaccessible. It was not.
Cured by sudo chown -R `id -un`:`id -gn` ~/Library/Caches command.
When Time Machine is backing up, the menubar icon no longer spins. It just has a little extra arrowhead.
Time Machine asked if I wanted to "adopt" the backup from my previous machine. I said yes.
I can now enter Time Machine and see the contents of old backups.
I have Mail set to download messages only when I request.
When I sleep the computer and wake it, pending messages have been downloaded anyway.
These may have been downloaded during "power nap."
Prior to Mavericks, Mail had a feature that let you view the plaintext version of a message rather than the Rich Text version.
or command-option-P would show the message in plain text.
This feature has vanished as of 10.9.2.
I miss it.
Prior to Mavericks, an undocumented feature of Mail allowed each user to specify a minimum HTML font size used for formatted text.
This specification no longer works.
Messages sent in rich format sometimes have unbearably tiny letters.
There is no way to change this.
The format of vCards exported by Contacts is the same,
but the contents are different (but equivalent) for multi-line items such as addresses.
It seems like the lines are output in a different random order in an ADR item.
I got a new computer that had Mavericks installed.
Finder Tags look like a half-hearted extension of Finder Labels.
You can set more than one tag on a file.
The Finder display of tags is much less noticeable than the old colored label.
I have not tried Enhanced Dictation yet. It may be worth trying for writing some articles.
The handling of multiple displays has changed. I have only one display, so I don't know how well this works.
You can have a menu bar on each display, or you can use the Mission Control preference pane to change it back to the old way.
Bugs/Gotchas in Mavericks
Several problems are reported in MacInTouch:
A TidBITS article by Joe Kissell describes fixes to Mail.app communication with Gmail.
There are still some problems with Mail.
Some users have reported that old mailboxes vanish after upgrading.
Some users report problems with duplicate message downloads from POP accounts.
Some users have reported problems with Mail.app changing dates on old mail when a mailbox is rebuilt.
Some users report problems with Mail's application of rules.
Some users reported problems with Suitcase Fusion 5.
Others said it worked for them.
Check the support website for the right version.
Some users reported kernel panics during installation.
If you are using third-party SSD devices, be sure to get the latest firmware updates first.
I have also noticed several problems.
The open source program Ploticus started crashing under Mavericks.
I installed gnuplot using MacPorts.
See the full repair story for details.
My previous system had Java 1.6.0 installed in /System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/.
After migrating to Mavericks, I ran a program that required Java and got a prompt saying I needed a Java 1.6 runtime, and asking whether to install it.
I clicked Install, and it appeared to work.
Then Oracle announced critical bug fixes for Java, and I decided to install Java 1.7.
I downloaded and installed /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_55.jdk/.
The Java control panel was installed with 1.7 and shows only Java 1.7 runtime installed.
Typing java -version or javac -version in a Terminal window finds Java 1.6.0, because /usr/lib/java and /usr/lib/javac were not relinked.
The command /usr/libexec/java_home -V shows two 1.6 versions and one 1.7 version.
I can find the new Java compiler by `/usr/libexec/java_home`/bin/javac.
Running an applet on my computer (with either Java 1.6.0 or 1.7.0) now shows a box with an "activate Java Applet" link.
Clicking that link brings up a popup asking whether to activate the applet.
Clicking "Once" gets an error dialog saying "Application Blocked By Security Settings" and a box with a link that says "Error. Click for Details."
Clicking that link gets a different dialog box that says "Application Blocked. Click for details."
Clicking "Details" gets an empty Java console.
I will try to deal with this later.
I think the issue is that my applet has to be signed.
My previous system had X11 and Xquartz installed in /Applications/Utilities.
I didn't use them for anything: I think they were installed as a side effect of installing Ghostscript via Fink.
Migrating to Mavericks copied these programs over.
When I updated Fink to Mavericks, I had repeated dialog boxes asking if I wanted to install X11. I clicked No.
(If I clicked Yes in this dialog, it took me to a web page that said X11 was not part of Mavericks, but I could download it from a website.)
The Fink install seemed to proceed without X11; I did not try to installin Ghostscript.
Trying to launch the X11 (Version 1) app in /Utilities got the same dialog box.
Trying to delete the X11 app got a message that it could not be deleted because MacOS depends on it.
Well, for what? as a source of useless dialog boxes?
I left things as they are.
The Finder is doing things I don't expect.
After a reboot, the Finder comes up with no windows open, instead of the same set of windows it had open before.
When I open a new Finder window and navigate to /Applications, in list view, the same two folders are shown expanded, no matter what used to be expanded.
Not really a Mavericks issue.. but I had to upgrade MySQL to 5.6.17, and discovered that some of my database files would not load, because
the mysql command now fails, rather than just warning, if a field value is too long for the field.
(This is because STRICT mode is now the default. The fix is to turn STRICT mode off, or fix the data, or the database definition.)
Planning for the next version: Yosemite
Apple's next version of Mac OS X was released in October 2014 as OSX 10.10, called "Yosemite."
(The Mac firmware must be updated for Yosemite.)
Yosemite's interface is more like iPhone and iPad.
There are reports that Adobe CS 5.5 apps, Quicken 2007, and Office 2008 and 2011 work OK.
Keep a list of the software and devices you use and depend on, so you can check that they are supported.
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© 2010-2017, Tom Van Vleck
updated 2017-08-16 13:17