When I first became an Apple fan, it was the operating system that drew me in. While I’ve always appreciated the sleek look of Apple devices, hardware doesn’t get me excited. It’s what you can do with it that cranks my gears. And so when a new version of iOS or macOS are released, I’ve always been an early adopter.
But the consistent, iterative nature of Apple’s releases have left me not fully taking advantage of the changes each version brings. I cannot think of one change that macOS Sierra introduced last fall that changed my computing habits. This year, I wanted to take some time to dig into the changes in High Sierra and make sure I was improving how I work (if possible).
The guided tour that Apple offers shortly after logging into High Sierra touches on the large features. But there are also some clever tips hidden under the plus sign.
Here are 5 new options I’m excited about.
- Site specific settings in Safari: Have a site where you always turn on Reader? Safari 11 allows you to save your settings for specific URLs so that your desired behaviour happens automatically. Now us old guys who can no longer read Gruber’s 11pt Verdana can enjoy it without clicking a button!
- Use Siri to play music: Another way I’ve not taken advantage of Apple’s software is using my voice. I rarely use Siri — on macOS or iOS. As more companies dig into voice activated interfaces, I want to stretch my habits a little. Queueing up music is a good start. Now, asking Siri to play a song or an artist was already possible. But now you can specify a genre and Siri will essentially make a playlist. I’ll be playing with this.
- Copy content and files between my Macs: And there was much rejoicing ?. When the Universal Clipboard was introduced, not only was it was another feature I did not take advantage of, it made my experience worse. I often had delays when attempting to type on my Mac, because the OS was waiting to grab that data from my phone (this technology uses Bluetooth, so I’m more than ready to lay the blame of any performance issues there). And since I don’t use iOS to do a lot of real work, it was not something I needed anyway. But I do regularly move from one MacBook to another to do work in my house. In High Sierra, it’s possible to access the Universal Clipboard from multiple Macs. And you can copy more than just text or certain kinds of content. Entire files can be moved … for those times when Airdrop will maddeningly not recognize the machine on the other side of the house.
- iCloud storage for the family: Finally! Yes, the word applies in this case. I’ve been on the 200GB iCloud plan for some time, but my wife has been putting up with the “Your iCloud storage is full” for some time. I just couldn’t bring myself to upgrade two of our iCloud accounts when I wasn’t using all the allocated space for just one account. This is one change Apple should have made a while ago, but I’m glad it’s finally here.
- Messages stored in iCloud: Another thing that I’ve found to be out of sync are conversations in Messages. I can be chatting with the same person on my main MacBook, but not see those same messages on iOS or my other MacBook. This is often related to moving to a new device and forgetting to tweak all the necessary iCloud knobs. But that should be improved in High Sierra … eventually. Apple says this is coming with a future software update.
A lot of the changes in High Sierra are under the hood, so it’s possible to benefit from the upgrade without realizing it. But the 5 features above are ones that can improve how use your Mac today.