The best new features in macOS Monterey that you'll actually use

Posted:
in macOS edited June 30
With hundreds of features and changes coming to macOS Monterey, it can be hard to filter out the noise from the signal. After installing and testing it out for the past week or so, we've collected our favorite features that almost everyone will be excited about.

macOS Monterey on our 24-inch iMac
macOS Monterey on our 24-inch iMac


There are some big features that we didn't include on our list. Features such as Universal Control take top billing. Universal Control allows you to place an iPad or Mac next to another Mac and effortlessly move your mouse and keyboard from device to device. Apple's demo is incredible -- but not everyone has another Mac or the need to use a mouse and keyboard on their iPad. So we didn't include it on our list.

What we did include were seven other features that made a big difference for us in day-to-day use.




Window management

Out of the gate with a headline-grabbing feature, there are two exceptionally nice additions to working with full-screen apps as well as split view apps in macOS Monterey.

New toggle to auto-hide the menu bar
New toggle to auto-hide the menu bar


Before macOS Monterey, the menu bar would always hide when in a full-screen app. This would conceal everything -- including the time and other helpful information that resides there. With macOS Monterey, Apple allows you to toggle auto-hide off, leaving the menu bar omnipresent -- full-screen app or not.

Swap tiled window in Split View
Swap tiled window in Split View


When working in split view, you can now click and hold on the green circle in the menu bar to quickly swap out different apps. So if you're working in Notes and Safari at the same time but want to change Notes for Mail, you can click and hold the green circle and click Replaced Tiled Window, then select Mail from your list of opened apps.

Both of these will be excellent quality of life improvements for Mac power users.

Safari

Visually, Safari got a big overhaul. As one of the most-used apps on the Mac, any changes go a long way. It has a streamlined look and feel that we've loved so far.

Safari now adopts the background color of visiting websites
Safari now adopts the background color of visiting websites


Tabs are more rounded, and the entire menu bar takes on the background color of the website you're visiting. The whole app comes off as a cohesive UI rather than your page with a menu bar stuck on top. When you visit AppleInsider.com, the menu bars blends in with our dark blue color, whereas visiting YouTube, the whole menu bar goes white.

Another improvement is to Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention. ITP will prevent sites from profiling you based on your IP address, on top of all the anti-tracking measures that debuted the year prior.

Safari Tab Groups
Safari Tab Groups


We also have a whole new sidebar. It has been redesigned and features Tab Groups. These, which sync across all your devices, are an easy way to manage many tabs at once. You can easily group them into various types, like work tabs, personal tabs, finance tabs, or any other category you dream up.

SharePlay

SharePlay may fall under a subcategory of FaceTime, but it's cool enough to warrant mention on its own.

Thanks to SharePlay, you can now watch videos, play games, listen to music with others while on a FaceTime call. It is a fantastic way to be connected while physically apart.

Aside from watching the latest episode of Mythic Quest with your BFFs, you can also share your screen as an easy way to troubleshoot your family's computer problems.

AirPlay

The Mac is no longer an AirPlay 2 output device, but can now be used as a receiver too. This has a ton of implications and uses.

Using AirPlay 2, you can share a presentation you've made on your own Mac, iPad, or iPhone and AirPlay it to the conference room Mac plugged into a projector in an office environment. At home, you could want to mirror a video from your iPhone to your 24-inch iMac's large display for everyone to see.

AirPlay to your Mac
AirPlay to your Mac


Or, perhaps you're tired of those small speakers on your iPhone and instead, want to hear the much richer sound from your MacBook Pro or iMac. AirPlay that audio from any of your favorite apps and don't worry about finding them on the Mac.

Best of all, this now allows you to extend your display. You can plop a second Mac right next to your existing Mac and use AirPlay to extend the display.

We can't believe it took Apple this long to include this feature.

Quick Note

Quick Note makes notes even easier to create and consume.

Quick Note creation
Quick Note Creation


Say you're reading a story in News or reading a review on AppleInsider. You decide that you want to jot something down for future use. You can drag the cursor to the lower-right corner to pop up a new Quick Note. Just click, and the note will appear in the middle of the display.

Write down what you need, format your text, add a table, or create a list. You can also tap the link button to add an "app link." As the note knows which website you're on or the story you're in, the link will auto-populate with the URL of where you are.

Insert app link into Quick Note
Insert app link into Quick Note


This app link comes in handy in the future too. If you ever visit that story again or that website again, it will automatically show your note in the lower-right corner.

The app links are contextually aware and will present themselves when they think you may need them. It works fabulously thus far, and we're going to be using this feature copiously once it launches.

If you ever need to pull up your notes, a smart list in the Notes app will show all Quick Notes you've created thus far.

Reset your Mac

There comes a time in every Mac's life when it is time to retire and replace it with a new model. The process to decommission your machine has always been more laborious than on iPhone or iPad.

macOS Monterey erase all content and settings
macOS Monterey erase all content and settings


It required you to head to Disk Utility, format the drive, and reinstall macOS. Starting with macOS Monterey, going to System Preferences and then the menu bar, there is a new option that says Erase All Content and Settings.

This option does just as it states -- it will erase everything on your Mac and return it to factory conditions. So if you're passing the machine to a family member or selling it on eBay, this makes the whole process much more manageable.

Low power mode

Low power mode on Mac
Low power mode on Mac


Apple is bringing its low power mode setting to both iPad and Mac this year. Unfortunately, low power mode isn't in Control Center (yet), but if you right-click the battery and go to battery preferences, you can check the box to turn it on.

This cuts down on battery-intensive tasks and hopefully gets you a bit more usage from your portable Mac.

Coming this fall

These are just a few features coming to macOS Monterey. Apple is expected to release the update for free this fall alongside iOS 15, iPadOS 15, tvOS 15, and watchOS 8.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    Fidonet127Fidonet127 Posts: 286member
    Shortcuts didn't make the list? It is something I'm looking forward to.
    seanjwilliamlondonlkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 28
    WgkruegerWgkrueger Posts: 334member
    I wonder if the iMac they’re using for this article’s photos is one that had the misalignment problem :-)
    TRAGwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,830member
    I doubt I'll use many, if any, of those.  Safari colouring the title bar I'm going to be looking to turn off ASAP.

    I think I'm done with new features, macOS is in a good state, it mostly seems to be fiddling and fluff now.
    rrabubaconstangmwhitedarkvader
  • Reply 4 of 28
    rraburrabu Posts: 251member
    I know there are third party apps for it but I really wish Apple would build in sharing printers out as AirPrint printers. I think that would be used by more people than airplay to my Mac…
    PetrolDavewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    AirPlay as a receiver is going to be handy when white-boarding over Zoom. Now I can use my Apple Pencil to sketch out workflow diagrams live and meeting participants can see them in real time.

    I’ve been looking for an app that does this without much success. Keynote is kinda close, but not very feature rich. 
    bageljoeyseanjwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    seanjseanj Posts: 256member
    Universal Control is by far and away the standout feature for me.
    williamlondonsteven n.watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 28
    Is Apple's clunky screen-splitting really used by 'Mac power users'? I've never seen a single person ever use it, and 'power users' use apps like BetterSnapTool or Magnet to do the job properly.

    Not that I'm encouraging the Sherlocking of great apps, but I don't really understand Apple's reluctance to make proper use of ever-increasing screen sizes. I user BetterSnapTool and couldn't really operate without it - with a 27" screen a tool like that is a requirement as far as I'm concerned. Even Windows does this better than Apple, and the new Windows leaks show they've moved this further on, though still not as far as 3rd party apps. I was really hoping a new OS would finally add this kind of essential functionality natively.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 28
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 629member
    New feature I would actually use:  Put back the scroll arrows.

    New 'features' I won't use:  Most of this list.

    Full screen is useful for ONE thing:  Playing videos.  And I don't want the menu bar when I'm playing a video.  I want my green dot back to its original sane behavior - zooming windows to max size and back.  Sure, it still works when you hold the option key, and I've trained myself to NEVER click it without the option key down, but no app but a video player should even have a full screen option.

    I don't really care about Safari.  The purpose of Safari is to download Firefox.

    I also don't really use FaceTime.  I'll sometimes answer my phone on the computer, but that's really about it.  Accidental FaceTime is why my camera has tape over it, I don't even really like the idea of video calls.

    The new AirPlay feature won't be useful to me for many years.  Sure, it might be useful in a decade or so when Macs that are new-ish now get used to replace my TV Macs.  But that's really all AirPlay is good for, sending video to something hooked up to a big screen.  And that's a great application for older Macs, my current TV Macs are a 2008 Mac Pro and some 2009 Mac minis (yes, hacked to run somewhat more current versions of Mac OS than Apple says they can, they handle it just fine.).  But Apple in their infinite stupidity only makes the feature available on Macs that aren't going to be relegated to TV duty for many years to come.  I'd probably use Airsquirrels' Reflector to AirPlay to those TVs occasionally if old Apple TVs weren't free, but they are and all I have to do is hit the input button on the remote.

    I absolutely LOATHE hot corners, I'll be looking for a way to make that quick note thing never happen.  I don't really use notes much, maybe it won't do it if the notes app isn't open.  If it does, hopefully somebody will write a patch to disable it.
    williamlondonbeautyspin
  • Reply 9 of 28
    darkvader said:
    New feature I would actually use:  Put back the scroll arrows.

    New 'features' I won't use:  Most of this list.

    Full screen is useful for ONE thing:  Playing videos.  And I don't want the menu bar when I'm playing a video.  I want my green dot back to its original sane behavior - zooming windows to max size and back.  Sure, it still works when you hold the option key, and I've trained myself to NEVER click it without the option key down, but no app but a video player should even have a full screen option.

    I don't really care about Safari.  The purpose of Safari is to download Firefox.

    I also don't really use FaceTime.  I'll sometimes answer my phone on the computer, but that's really about it.  Accidental FaceTime is why my camera has tape over it, I don't even really like the idea of video calls.

    The new AirPlay feature won't be useful to me for many years.  Sure, it might be useful in a decade or so when Macs that are new-ish now get used to replace my TV Macs.  But that's really all AirPlay is good for, sending video to something hooked up to a big screen.  And that's a great application for older Macs, my current TV Macs are a 2008 Mac Pro and some 2009 Mac minis (yes, hacked to run somewhat more current versions of Mac OS than Apple says they can, they handle it just fine.).  But Apple in their infinite stupidity only makes the feature available on Macs that aren't going to be relegated to TV duty for many years to come.  I'd probably use Airsquirrels' Reflector to AirPlay to those TVs occasionally if old Apple TVs weren't free, but they are and all I have to do is hit the input button on the remote.

    I absolutely LOATHE hot corners, I'll be looking for a way to make that quick note thing never happen.  I don't really use notes much, maybe it won't do it if the notes app isn't open.  If it does, hopefully somebody will write a patch to disable it.
    I bet you're a riot at parties.
    Alex_VseanjFidonet127TRAGwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,496member
    As one who loathes full screen mode for apps (except videos), I wonder how many people (who don’t come from Windows) actually use them on a regular basis?

    same with split screen etc.  I have windows for my apps and can size them and arrange them how I want. I use a 4K 40” display and a 27” iMac Retina display and an older non retina 30” Apple cinema on my personal mac.   My work MacBook Pro has the MBP display, a 4K 40” and a 4K 32”.  Never have felt the need for any 3rd party apps or built in functionality to help “manage” it.   

    What I wish, whole heartedly, that Apple would bring back, which old macOS did awesomely (maybe you have to go back to classic macOS — not sure when this disappeared), is to prevent apps from claiming focus by themselves without user intervention.  

    I hate it when I am typing in a window and another app decides it needs to present some sort of alert or info pane that blasts itself on top of what I am doing and takes over the screen focus/keyboard.  I also hate it when the system does this for non essential/system threatening reasons.  

    Each app should only be able to put up windows and lanes in its own “app level”.  Let the icon get some sort of update that shows there is an unattended alert for an app.   The ONLY time that the system or another app should be able to take over your screen and screen focus is a system threatening condition that needs attention immediately 

    even FaceTime or phone calls routed to the mac don’t need to do this.  A background noise and some sort of non focus small icon or alert in the corner that I can click on if I want is all that is needed. 

    joogabah
  • Reply 11 of 28
    Alex_VAlex_V Posts: 56member
    darkvader said:
    New feature I would actually use:  Put back the scroll arrows.
    New 'features' I won't use:  Most of this list.
    Full screen is useful for ONE thing:  Playing videos. 
    I don't really care about Safari.  The purpose of Safari is to download Firefox.
    I also don't really use FaceTime. 
    The new AirPlay feature won't be useful to me for many years. 
    I absolutely LOATHE hot corners,
    I'll be looking for a way to make that quick note thing never happen. 

    Scroll arrows? That’s so 1990. Good riddance. 
    I use full screen all the time. Makes the most of the real estate. Full screen on the obsolete Apple Aperture was a revelation. More please!
    I like Firefox. I prefer Safari, and it’s on all my devices, and it’s getting much better. 
    FaceTime is great! Better tech than the competition. It’s how I keep in touch with family. 
    Airplay will be great when I’m back to teaching in class. I can beam something from my iPad to an iMac. 
    Hot corners? Jeepers, I use them all the time. 
    Notes is my goto jotting app. I use it every day. It replaces Evernote that wasn’t getting any better. 

    williamlondonseanjwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    maltzmaltz Posts: 282member
    Erase All Content and Settings

    Yeah, I'm going to need a LOT more information about how this works under the hood before I trust it to really erase my data on a machine with unencrypted, removable storage - which a decent number of Macs still use.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 28
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 649member
    rrabu said:
    I know there are third party apps for it but I really wish Apple would build in sharing printers out as AirPrint printers. I think that would be used by more people than airplay to my Mac…
    I don't think so - how many people REALLY print from iOS/iPadOS devices?
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 28
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 649member
    Is Apple's clunky screen-splitting really used by 'Mac power users'? I've never seen a single person ever use it, and 'power users' use apps like BetterSnapTool or Magnet to do the job properly.

    Not that I'm encouraging the Sherlocking of great apps, but I don't really understand Apple's reluctance to make proper use of ever-increasing screen sizes. I user BetterSnapTool and couldn't really operate without it - with a 27" screen a tool like that is a requirement as far as I'm concerned. Even Windows does this better than Apple, and the new Windows leaks show they've moved this further on, though still not as far as 3rd party apps. I was really hoping a new OS would finally add this kind of essential functionality natively.
    I don't find it clunky & use it all the time.
    Alex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 28
    What I truly miss in Notes is an “unorganized” smart folder, which will list notes that have not been organized into a smart folder.

    Right now it’s actually quite hard to retro-actively go through hundreds of notes that haven’t gotten a smart folder destination. 

    With my suggested feature, the smart folder would list fewer and fewer items as I drag them onto a smart folder, mimicking the behavior of a traditional folder.
    Alex_V
  • Reply 16 of 28
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,928member
    chadbag said:

    What I wish, whole heartedly, that Apple would bring back, which old macOS did awesomely (maybe you have to go back to classic macOS — not sure when this disappeared), is to prevent apps from claiming focus by themselves without user intervention.  

    Each app should only be able to put up windows and lanes in its own “app level”.  Let the icon get some sort of update that shows there is an unattended alert for an app.   The ONLY time that the system or another app should be able to take over your screen and screen focus is a system threatening condition that needs attention immediately 

    That behaviour is nasty. Especially at startup but the whole idea that a dialog should be able to refocus what you are doing (often at the worst possible time) is anti user and they sometimes come in spurts so you're going somewhere with your mouse and just before you get there a dialog box pops up in the centre of the screen and you're forced to move to it (because keyboard toggling for the options isn't working for example) and click it away and go back to what you were doing, only for another dialog box to pull focus away from you just before you get there. 

    I have no idea why these dialogs have to be centre placed if a mouse is tracking. Just plunk them near the cursor and limit refocusing to cases where it is absolutely necessary, like you say. 
    edited June 19
  • Reply 17 of 28
    Fidonet127Fidonet127 Posts: 286member
    avon b7 said:
    chadbag said:

    What I wish, whole heartedly, that Apple would bring back, which old macOS did awesomely (maybe you have to go back to classic macOS — not sure when this disappeared), is to prevent apps from claiming focus by themselves without user intervention.  

    Each app should only be able to put up windows and lanes in its own “app level”.  Let the icon get some sort of update that shows there is an unattended alert for an app.   The ONLY time that the system or another app should be able to take over your screen and screen focus is a system threatening condition that needs attention immediately 

    That behaviour is nasty. Especially at startup but the whole idea that a dialog should be able to refocus what you are doing (often at the worst possible time) is anti user and they sometimes come in spurts so you're going somewhere with your mouse and just before you get there a dialog box pops up in the centre of the screen and you're forced to move to it (because keyboard toggling for the options isn't working for example) and click it away and go back to what you were doing, only for another dialog box to pull focus away from you just before you get there. 

    I have no idea why these dialogs have to be centre placed if a mouse is tracking. Just plunk them near the cursor and limit refocusing to cases where it is absolutely necessary, like you say. 
    Monterey is supposed to have better notifications and how they interact based upon what focus you are in. IE if in work mode, these notifications are allowed. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 28
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,560moderator
    maltz said:
    Erase All Content and Settings

    Yeah, I'm going to need a LOT more information about how this works under the hood before I trust it to really erase my data on a machine with unencrypted, removable storage - which a decent number of Macs still use.
    All storage can be encrypted (right-click and encrypt the drive or enable Filevault for a system drive). To securely erase it, it would be encrypted first and then erased normally, that's what the system erase does. For extra peace of mind, the drive can be filled with content after erasing.

    It's quicker with new systems because the OS is on a read-only partition and the user data is all on a separate encrypted partition. They just wipe the encryption keys for the data partition without affecting the OS.
    darkvader said:
    I want my green dot back to its original sane behavior - zooming windows to max size and back.  Sure, it still works when you hold the option key, and I've trained myself to NEVER click it without the option key down, but no app but a video player should even have a full screen option.
    I do the same, alt-clicking every single time. Just having a system preference to set it to the preferred behavior would be fine.
    Is Apple's clunky screen-splitting really used by 'Mac power users'? I've never seen a single person ever use it, and 'power users' use apps like BetterSnapTool or Magnet to do the job properly.
    It's not the easiest thing to even set up:

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204948

    Few people know about the hidden hover or press-hold options on buttons. It probably works well during screen sharing for presentations but for any kind of productivity that needs multi-tasking it's a slow workflow having to frequently go in and out of fullscreen mode, especially when they animate all the transitions.

    The screen snapping is another feature that isn't well thought out. It's nice when it's needed but it makes dragging windows around most other times very annoying as they randomly snap to things and it can't be turned off. The worst part is when windows snap to hidden windows layered behind. They should only snap to visible windows.

    Here's a video of a window hovering and over a window and it's snapping to the edge of a window hidden under it. The snapping happens depending on how fast the window is moved:

    https://streamable.com/v989bx

    The features come in handy sometimes but when features aren't used the same way by the majority of users, they should have preferences to switch them on/off.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    maltz said:
    Erase All Content and Settings

    Yeah, I'm going to need a LOT more information about how this works under the hood before I trust it to really erase my data on a machine with unencrypted, removable storage - which a decent number of Macs still use.
    This. I am looking forward to this the most. All the others are fluff, as somebody else said. The less said about safari, the better.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 28
    maltz said:
    Erase All Content and Settings

    I suppose this requires entering an admin password...
    watto_cobra
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