17 additions in OS X Yosemite that will supercharge your workflow

Better notifications, the new Spotlight search app and an improved Mail app are highlights in the new, free upgrade coming this fall. Sign up for the public beta to enjoy it all even earlier.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 21

The newest, handiest features in OS X Yosemite

Apple unveiled its next revision of OS X, christened Yosemite, at its Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco on Monday. Developers will receive the new version today, and everyone else will be upgraded in the fall. The good news? It's free. And you'll definitely want it: More than a pretty makeover, OS X Yosemite will offer better notifications, the new Spotlight search app, a revamped Mail app and more. Read on to learn about the biggest productivity improvements.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 32

The Notification Center offers highlights from your calendar and beyond

Notification Center lives on the right side of the screen and provides a quick look at what's important: your calendar, reminders, the weather, news, and more. Conceptually, it looks like the notifications already built into iOS 7, but with a far richer interface and breadth of content. 

apple wwdc os x yosemite 4

Widgets come to the Notification Center

Within the Notification Center, app developers can give you access to widgets like this weather app—letting them, and you, add some interactivity.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 1

Meet Spotlight, your everything search tool

If you're a Google fan, Apple's new Spotlight feature will look very familiar. It launches as a thin search box right in the middle of your screen. Start typing, and OS X Yosemite will start auto-suggesting all kinds of things: messages and email, locations on the Web, and more.

The idea is that Spotlight lets you start searching without first having to open and hunt through a particular app. Spotlight can be used to open applications, contacts, calendar, mail, messages, a dictionary, and even system preferences. 

apple wwdc os x yosemite 8

Spotlight can search apps and suggest related files

Here, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi shows off Spotlight as it auto-searches Apple's Numbers spreadsheet application and also brings up his most recently used documents. Notice the suggestions for other documents in the left bar as well.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 6

Spotlight contact cards show deeper data

Naturally, you'll be able to use Spotlight to open a contact. This card shows off not only biographical information about Apple executive Phil Schiller, but also how Federighi typically interacts with him.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 3

Calendar does a deeper dive into your day

Apple gave its Calendar app a new day view. With the new version, the right side now shows information about your day's meetings, including where they're taking place and who's invited.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 12

iCloud Drive syncs files across all devices

Users will finally be able to access iCloud and its folder structure via the Finder, via what Apple calls iCloud Drive. Files you upload there will sync across all your devices—a theme, incidentally, of both the new OS X Yosemite and the new iOS 9. Apple may not have the world’s largest ecosystem, but the company seems determined to tie it the closest together.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 11

Files too large for Mail? iCloud can help

iCloud Drive also affects Mail. Ever have an email bounce because the file you attached was simply too large? With the new Mail app, Mail can send a secure link to the file stored on iCloud, rather than the file itself. This may not be new to workers using other computing platforms, but it's a nice addition to OS X.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 14

Image and PDF markup come to Mail

Let's say you simply want to highlight part of an image, instead of trying to describe it in text. OS X Yosemite's Mail app will let you do that. This will also work with the popular PDF format, Apple says.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 16

Safari's private browsing

Apple's Safari has finally added a dedicated browser window private browsing, much like Google's Chrome or Microsoft's Internet Explorer. (The current version of Safari supports private browsing, but once turned on it applies to all windows and tabs.)  Safari will also add an improved tabbed view.

Clarification: This slide has been clarified to distinguish the current version of Safari with the new version found in OS X Yosemite.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 19

Handoff conveys content from Mac to iPad

Handoff is one of the slicker additions to the iOS/OS X ecosystem. With Handoff, a device like your iPad will know what you're working on, allowing you to "throw" content from your Mac to the iPad. (You'll receive a discreet alert on your iPad letting you know that such content is available.)

The related AirDrop feature will also work from OS X to iOS, Apple said.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 22

Your iPhone, the hotspot

Integration between your iPhone and your Mac works in a number of other ways. With the new integration between OS X Yosemite and iOS 9, your iPhone can automatically configure itself as a hotspot to ensure your Mac is always connected.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 24

SMS syncs to on multiple devices

Apple hasn’t let you read and respond to SMS text messages on your Mac—until now. This may not help your productivity, but at least you'll be distracted more seamlessly?

Correction: An earlier version of this slide erroneously said that iMessages will now sync across devices. 

apple wwdc os x yosemite 25

You can dial your iPhone from your Mac

Holy device integration, Batman! Yes, it works both ways: OS X Yosemite will offer an interface for using your iPhone from your Mac. 

apple wwdc os x yosemite 27

You can see who's calling on your Mac

You can also see who's calling you on your Mac. Sure, you could always dig out your phone from your pocket and check it yourself, but people will laugh at you if you do that (while using your Mac), once this handy feature becomes available.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 28

Your Mac will even place a call for you

OS X Yosemite will add a feature that's already on most mobile browsers: click to call. Highlight a phone number and dial it, right from your Mac. 

apple wwdc os x yosemite 30

Let's call Dr. Dre!

Just to prove it all works, Federighi called up Apple's newest employee, Dr. Dre, and offered him a quick employee orientation.

apple wwdc os x yosemite 23

We're all developers now

It's worth repeating: The new version will be free. And if you can't wait until the fall to get it, Apple has its own free public beta program to grant you early access. 

Mac users can participate in the OS X Beta Program for Yosemite this summer, Apple said, and download the final version for free from the Mac App Store this fall. If you want to find out how, visit Apple's developer site

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors