macOS Sierra is the new version of the Mac Operating System that runs on computers that have Mac in their name.
The previously named operating system being OS X has got a name change to macOS, which ties it in better with the rest of the Apple operating system lineup being iOS, watchOS and tvOS, and in this post I’m going to list my Top 5 favourite features from this new release.
This list is not in any particular, but 5 overall that I like.
Rearrange All Menu Bar Icons
In OS X El Capitan and earlier, you could only rearrange 3rd party icons in the top menu bar.
But with macOS Sierra, you can now re-arrange 1st party icons (except notification centre) which provides users more flexibility on what they want to be visible where, which is a great for apps that have a lot of menu options that take up a lot of width from the left side of the screen (including Xcode and Android Studio).
Siri is finally on the Mac.
After 5 years since it debut on the iPhone (4s), having it on the Mac is a nice addition.
I know there is a tweak that you can apply in accessibility that allows people to say ‘Hey Siri’ to activate Siri on the Mac but will look into that soon.
Getting to Siri is easy via either:
- Keyboard combination
- Menu Bar Icon
- Dock Icon
It is now a lot easier to use Siri to:
- Show directions to a place in Apple Maps
- Create Reminders and Calendar Events
- Play albums of music from iTunes
- Check if you have any new emails (actually really cool)
It is also cool that you can also look at Siri results while working on other work which is a massive bonus for Mac productivity.
You can also create web searches and finder file searches and save these to Notification Centre if you use them frequently which is nice.
Only major downside to Siri on the Mac is that it still requires an internet connection just to convert voice to text before finding results to your query.
Offline Siri support would make more sense on a Mac then on iOS due to more local data storage (ignoring 256GB iPhone 7/Plus), but this does need to come to all platforms in the future, including watchOS and tvOS.
Optimizing Storage Features
One feature I was under-estimating for this release was the optimizing storage features.
If you go to Apple Menu -> About This Mac -> Storage -> Manage, you will see a window that shows you exactly what is on your Mac and makes it easier to make wise decisions about what should and shouldn’t be on your Mac.
I went through this process after upgrading to Sierra, and I gained up to an additional 40GB’s of storage. I had things like sound effects and loops that remained on my Mac after removing Garageband (as had no use for it), large files that I never use, etc.
Picture in Picture
Picture in Picture (PiP) is now on the Mac which debut in iOS 9 last year is a great addition to the Mac.
It allows you to take the video from a website such as YouTube and put it into its own window with no bezel and simple pause button and always floats above the content you’re working on, in any corner of your choice.
The feature is not perfect though, as I want to see for this feature:
- Support from any web browser (not just Safari)
- Timeline, previous and next buttons in PiP window where relevant. E.g. playlist on YouTube, or iTunes video.
Auto Unlock with any Apple Watch
This feature alone is one of the main reasons I am now considering getting an Apple Watch.
What this does is if you are wearing an Apple Watch that has been authenticated as yourself, when you wake your Mac from sleep it will automatically log you in, in less time then it takes to type your password once.
This feature works for most users 5 to 7 metres away from your Mac, but CNET even achieved a result of 9 metres.
Just the thought of having to type one less password on a constant basis would be quite a treat. Think of this as an alternative to Touch ID on the Mac.
That was just a few of the features that I like about the macOS Sierra release.
I only installed it on the day of release and only been playing with it for a few days (never used any betas).
Overall I am quite impressed with macOS Sierra. There’s obviously quite a few features that I would not use (if not often), but this does feel like a more significant step-up in what the platform can do compared to the jump from OS X Yosemite to El Capitan.
I have not had any technical issues on my MacBook Pro Retina with Sierra, so for the vast majority of people, I recommend to upgrade now.
The only minor issue I have come across is not being able to change the HiDPI settings for connected displays via HDMI, but this should hopefully be coming back in a future update. It is weird though that this is a step backwards.
Another nuisance feature that I was really looking forward too is multi-tab support in all apps without any developer work. However this feature does not work with Microsoft Office, but if it did that feature alone would make upgrading to Sierra worth it, but until then, it will be one of my minor requested features from Microsoft or Apple (depending on who’s responsible for this, which is likely the former).
That concludes on my thoughts about macOS Sierra. What is your favourite feature? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to follow me here and on Twitter @neilh_apps.