5 cool Yosemite tips for teachers

Getting the most out of Apple’s new OS in the classroom

5 cool Yosemite tips for teachersThe new Yosemite OS from Apple is out now and free to all desktop and laptop users running OS 10.6 or newer. But why upgrade? Will Yosemite provide educators with any useful new functionalities?


Right this way for 5 cool Yosemite tips for teachers.

1. AirDrop for everyone

And for everything: with Yosemite you can now use AirDrop to transfer files between Mac desktops and laptops and iOS devices. Yessssssss. Shoot a bunch of huge videos on iPads that you want to capture? AirDrop them! Need to get a set of files onto all your students iOS devices? *Ssssssshooomp* AirDrop!

I’m not gonna lie, every time I remember this feature’s now a reality, I do a little dance of hosannas. It’s making the Tarrant Institute offices basically unliveable and I do not care one whit.


2. Built-in iPad screencasting

Huzzah! Probably the most sought-after feature by educators and students both, iPad screencasting is finally here!


  1. Connect your iOS device to your Mac.
  2. Open the QuickTime Player app.
  3. Click ‘File’ then ‘New Movie Recording.’
  4. When the Movie Recording Window appears click the arrow, then select your device.
  5. Select your Microphone input.
  6. To begin recording, click the record button.
  7. To stop recording click stop and save the video.

3. Add Javascript to your Apple workflow

4 great online tools for the Hour of CodeThe Mac OS has featured AppleScript as a tool for automating workflows since the beginning of time or at least as long as I can remember (which involves oxen dying of dysentery, if that helps with the timeframe), but Yosemite allows individual users to incorporate Javascript into their desktop coding tools. For you as an educator, this can provide students with a way to work on their coding with small, manageable projects that will have an immediate effect on classroom or learning workflow.

Hour of Code? Coming up next week. Javascript? Here to stay for the foreseeable future and much, much sexier as a programming language than AppleScript. Trust me or just go poll your students.

Go on, I’ll wait here.

Awesome, right? And here’s few desktop Javascript projects you can sic students on:

  • Create automated email messages
  • Personalize startup routines (“Good morning, #Name! Let’s get started on some #5th_grade_algebra”)
  • Batch name files, batch crop images
  • Set a universal homepage on multiple machines

Plus check out this handy guide to getting started.

4. Super-powered Spotlight

Apple’s desktop search tool, Spotlight, has traditionally been, well, a little lacking. NOT ANYMORE.

5 cool Yosemite tips for teachers

Whereas before all you could do with Spotlight was search your files and folders, now you can bring in Google and Wikipedia search tools, use Spotlight to do currency conversions or perform as a calculator — even find local movie times. It turns Spotlight into a tiny fact-finding powerhouse.

Combine that with the overhauled Notification Center — which lets you bring in weather, custom network-wide messages and calendar notations — and you’ve created one central space for students to get all their school-specific info. Think about how, for instance, one school uses Google Calendar to track their assignments, and how that can play into having a central school organizing space.

5. Screen-sharing in Messages

5 cool Yosemite tips for teachers


Fantabulous chat-based conferencing without a third-party product! Not just chatting anymore, but also adding audio notes, screen-sharing and driving other people’s laptops. Suddenly the Messages application becomes super-useful for:

  • collaborating with colleagues on snow days
  • having students host virtual help desks
  • collaborating with community partners
  • conducting virtual project-sharing with the larger community

I would love to hear from students who’d like to share out their ongoing work or who’d like to talk to content experts in the community! Depending on your school’s community mores, this newly expanded tool could facilitate some powerful connections.

Want more?

Looking for more tricks than you see here? Check out this 60-minute screencast.

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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