Unveiled back in June at WWDC, macOS Sierra is now available to download. The next-gen Mac operating system comes with plenty of changes and now, it’s time to go through some of the most important ones.
Jump over the break to see what’s new in macOS Sierra…
Mac OS X becomes macOS
First thing you’re going to notice is that the name has changed. Since 2001 Mac’s operating system has been known as “OS X”.
With the release of “Seirra” Apple has decided to ditch the OS X name in favor of the new “macOS” to bring it in line with iOS, watchOS and tvOS. However, Apple continued to name the operating system after California landmarks.
“macOS Sierra” is named after the Sierra Nevada mountains that span from central California to Nevada.
It has been rumored for a couple of years now that Siri will come to Mac. With macOS Sierra, Apple’s personal assistant is available on Macs for the first time.
If you’ve ever used Siri on an iOS device, you will find that it performs the same functions on Mac. It can look up information, send messages, open apps… but there’s also some Mac-only functions available.
In macOS Sierra, Siri is able to search through your files and quickly find the content you’re looking for. To do that, you can use queries like ” Show me the PDFs in my Downloads folder” or “Find me the documents I opened yesterday”.
Not only that, but Siri also understands context, meaning that your search queries can be followed by further refinements like “just the ones John sent me”.
Siri results can also be pinned to the Today section of the Notification Center, or inserted into various documents.
More than that, Siri results are dynamic and kept up to date. That means that you can ask about the score of a game, pin the result to your Notification Center and, the widget, will be updated so you can see the score changes at a glance.
You can also use Siri to find images on the web, images that can be dragged directly from Siri results into a document for example. Siri is full of surprises on the Mac, and it can only get better and better.
In macOS Sierra, Siri can be triggered through an icon in the dock, icon in the menu bar or a user-specified keyboard command. One thing Apple didn’t include here is a way to trigger Siri by voice. For example “Hey Siri”. Turns out that with a bit of ingenuity you can easily enable that in macOS Sierra.
In macOS Sierra, Apple expanded the Continuity features. If you own an Apple Watch you can use it to auto-unlock your Mac over Bluetooth. It can’t be easier. Whenever you’re near your Mac, it unlocks. However, the feature requires a 2013 or newer Mac, watchOS 3 for Apple Watch.
If that’s not something you find particularly useful, maybe this will convince you: Universal Clipboard. The new Continuity feature allows you to copy something on a Mac and paste it on your iPhone or iPad and vice-versa. You will need both devices on the same network and handsoff turned-on for this to work. It goes without saying that macOS Sierra and iOS 10 is required as well.
In macOS Sierra, all your desktop and Documents folder files are automatically synced to iCloud and you will be able to access them on other Macs and iOS devices.
On iOS devices your files will be available through the iCloud Drive app.
On other Macs, once you’re logged in into your iCloud account, desktop and Documents folder files are synced and immediately available to you.
You can also access your files on Windows machines through the iCloud for Windows app and via iCloud.com . Basically you can access your files on any device that has a web-browser.
With iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, Apple expands Apple Pay to the web. You can now use Apple Pay for web purchases on participating websites. Payments will be authenticated through the Touch ID button on the iPhone or through an unlocked Apple Watch attached to the user’s wrist.
The new Photos app in macOS Sierra features a new “Memories” section that helps you rediscover favorite and forgotten moments from deep in your library. Memories automatically creates slideshows and shareable collections of your best photos — based on people, places, holidays, and more.
Advanced computer vision technology can identify objects and scenes within your images. So you can search your photos by what’s in them. Find all your shots of the beach, every sunset you’ve captured, or every image with a birthday cake.
There’s also a new “Places” album that tracks your photo expeditions across an interactive world map. You can zoom out to look back on all the places you’ve been, or zoom in to see exactly where you shot that epic landscape.
Photos can now sort your images by your favorite subjects — the people in your life. Look back on pictures of your daughter and her colorful fashion style or Dad on your annual fishing trips. Made possible with state-of-the-art face recognition technology.
Messages has also been update in macOS Sierra. It now supports rich links so you can see previews of the link’s content right in the message feed. Also, thanks to rich links videos can be played without leaving the Messages app.
Just like in iOS 10, you can use “Tapback” to quickly reply to messages with an icon like a thumbs up or heart. Also, when sending up to three emojis ( just the emojis, no text ), they’re now being displayed way larger than you were used to.
Finding your favorite songs and discovering new ones is even simpler with the freshly redesigned Apple Music inside iTunes. The revamped For You makes it easier to discover new music and playlists we think you’ll love, thanks to expert curation and advanced machine learning. The new Browse section lets everyone see the best of what’s available on Apple Music, from exclusives and new releases to playlists and top charts. And now you can view lyrics while you listen in the refined MiniPlayer.
There’s a new feature in macOS Sierra designed to automatically free up storage space on an HDD/SDD. Optimized Storage will take all your infrequently used items, move them to iCloud and delete them from your Mac. It will also send reminders to users that forgot to delete used app installers and clear out duplicate downloads caches, logs and more.
Files that will be moved to iCloud include old screenshots, full-resolution photos, unused Mac App Store apps, ePub books that have been read, iTunes U Courses, old presentations, old documents, unused fonts, old Mail Attachments etc.
Data that will be deleted permanently includes trash items after 30 days, web caches, Apple Music caches, fault and error logs, inactive iTunes downloads, iPSW files, inactive Mac App Store download, old iPhone backups, Quick Look thumbnails etc.
Picture in Picture
Apple brings Picture in Picture multitasking to macOS Sierra. When watching a video in Safari or iTunes you can now float that video over the desktop so you can continue working on other things. The floating video screen can be pinned to any corner of you Mac’s screen and resized. You might encounter some issues when trying to go picture-in-picture with a YouTube video. Don’t worry, it works and it’s super simple. Learn how.
You can now have tabs in all Mac apps that support multiple windows. That includes Mail, Maps, iWork suite and more. This way, instead of opening multiple documents at the same time, you can now access more than one document through multiple tabs.
Here’s an annoying change. Annoying for someone who knows his/her way around a computer and the internet. There’s no longer an option that allows you to open apps downloaded from “anywhere”. Now you can only open apps from App Store and trusted developers. Of course you can open apps downloaded from other sources but it’s a pain in the ass. You will always have to go to System Preferences>Security & Privacy> and click on a new button that says “Open Anyway”. Luckily there’s an easy fix. Learn how
macOS Sierra is a great update for all Mac users. It’s compatible with: 2009 and later iMac and MacBook, and 2010 and later MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Mini and Mac Pro. Of course it’s available for free on the Mac App Store.