While there are no real showstoppers in Apple’s latest operating system, the upgrade to macOS Monterey still delivers a few handy features which will make your life easier.
The successor to macOS Big Sur, macOS Monterey was announced by Apple at WWDC 2021 back in June. It’s been available to developers in beta for a while and was finally released to the general public this week.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the upgrade to macOS Monterey isn’t a big deal, even a bit dull. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In some ways that’s the point as operating systems move away from big bang releases.
Thankfully, we seem to be past the days of major macOS and Windows updates which introduce significant changes and break backwards compatibility with hardware and software.
These days, people want stability and incremental change, rather than upheaval and disruption. Any application, service or peripheral which works with macOS Big Sur shouldn’t give you trouble on macOS Monterey. Just like Windows 11 is a fairly smooth transition from Windows 10.
While the upgrade to macOS Monterey is unlikely to give you great joy, more importantly it’s also unlikely to cause you grief. So what are the best reasons to upgrade?
If your Mac is your productivity tool, then the new Focus mode is likely to grab your attention. It’s come across from iGadgets as part of Apple’s ongoing push to bring iOS and macOS closer together.
More than a simple Do Not Disturb mode, Focus mode offers more granular control over which applications, services and people can bother you while you’re trying to get things done. You can even create different profiles for different activities. This way, you can change who can disturb you based on what you’re working on.
When you enable Focus mode, it is automatically set across your other Apple devices. A status message is also displayed in Messages and supported communication apps, like Slack, so others know not to interrupt you.
After you upgrade to macOS Monterey you can activate Focus mode manually in the Control Centre, but it can also turn on automatically. You can specify it to kick in at a certain time, when you arrive at a certain location or when you launch a certain app.
Borrowed from iPadOS15, Quick Note makes it easy to quickly jot down notes while in any app. You can also add links from apps to a Quick Note, such as remembering a website in Safari or quickly finding a location in Maps.
With the upgrade to macOS Monterey, Quick Note also becomes a basic collaboration tool. You can add mentions and view updates to a shared note with the new Activity view. It also supports tags, with a new Tag Browser making it easier to find what you’re looking for.
Shortcuts make it easy to automate simple, repetitive tasks in order to save you time. These sequences of tasks can extend across different apps. Shortcuts are designed to eventually replace Automator on macOS and you can import existing Automator workflows.
Like Focus mode and Qucik Note, Shortcuts has also come across from iGadgets. Apple offers a gallery of prebuilt shortcuts, such as instantly opening frequently used apps or adding a reminder to a to-do list. You can also create your own, with ‘Next Action Suggestions’ helping you fit them with your workflows.
The upgrade to macOS Monterey ensures Shortcuts are always at hand. You can access them in the Shortcuts app, pin them to the Menu bar or keep them in the Dock. You can also trigger them with a keyboard shortcut or run them from the right-click contextual menu. Alternatively, you can simply ask Siri to run a Shortcut.