Sierra is a big update, and there are lots of little things that you may not necessarily find on your own, hiding just below the surface. Here are a handful to help you get the most of the update.
1. Making Siri work for you on the Mac: One very visible update to the Mac is the inclusion of Siri, Apple’s AI assistant, which you can call up by holding down the command and space bars. (You can also customize your keyboard shortcut in the System Preferences’s Siri section.) There’s not a way to trigger Siri on the Mac by voice alone, which presumably avoids triggering your phone and Mac simultaneously when you “Hey Siri.”
Siri’s great for super-multitasking, since you can ask it for answers without having to leave and open another app. In addition to telling you weather forecasts and looking up information for you, Siri can also conduct sophisticated searches to show you things like, “All the documents I worked on in the past month” or “Emails this week from John Doe.” Siri can also find images, which you can then drag and drop into your own files.
2. Universal Clipboard: If you also have an iPhone or iPad, this feature can solve the ever-annoying question of how to send a file easily between your phone and your computer. Now, you can just select and copy text or images on your phone and paste it on your Mac. (Or vice versa, if you prefer.)
There’s almost nothing to set up for this one — have your updated devices near each other, with Bluetooth and WiFi enabled, and be signed into to your iCloud account on both devices. As features go, it’s a pretty useful one, though there's probably little chance you'd find it without knowing it was there.
3. iCloud Drive: If you want to send files between devices, you can now put things into your iCloud Drive while also putting them on your desktop or documents folder, for really easy access down the line. Head to System Preferences>iCloud, and then click on the “options” by iCloud drive.
Hit “Desktop & Documents Folders” and your Mac will put everything in both of those folders into the cloud for easy access. (Anything else on this list with a check mark is also backed up into iCloud.)
4. Optimized storage: This isn’t the world’s sexiest tip, but it is a useful one. Apple has added a new storage management tool that will help identify files and other things that you haven’t used in a while to see if they can be erased.
You can also set your trash to empty automatically every 30 days, which helps you get rid of stuff that you thought you already deleted. You can also move things to iCloud, though you may not want to do that if you don’t want to fill up your storage there too quickly.
5. Apple Pay: Apple makes it dangerously easy to buy things on the Web in macOS Sierra. (Note: Not necessarily from a security standpoint, just from an impulse-shopping standpoint.) Some websites are now accepting Apple Pay as an available payment method, including Warby Parker, Lululemon and, of course, Apple’s own store.
Users will need to be using Safari and have either their Apple Watch or iPhone handy to do this. If you do, hit the “Apple Pay” button on the site if it’s available, and you’ll see the transaction come up on your smaller screen. You can confirm it by tapping on the Watch. On the iPhone, you’ll have to use Touch ID to verify the purchase.
6. Collaborative Notes: Starting in Sierra and iOS 10, you can write notes collaboratively, meaning that you can ask other people to weigh in on the guest list you’re compiling or the toast you’re writing for the next wedding you’re attending. This is the kind of feature that’s been around in third-party apps for a long time, but it’s nice to have it baked in.
To invite others, simply click on the new icon that looks like a person with a plus sign and invite away.
7. Picture in Picture: This may not be the most earth-shattering update that ever happened, but it’s one that made me smile. Picture in picture lets you keep a video on your screen all the time, through Safari. On certain sites, such as Vimeo, there is an actual picture-in-picture button. On others, such as YouTube, you’ll have to do some digging — right-click on a video twice to get to the menu that lets you choose “Enter Picture in Picture” as an option.
Note that this won’t work with every video on every site — in fact, it doesn’t work on most sites, including ones that would be useful, such as Netflix. And while you can play and pause videos, you can't do more than that. Still, it’s a nice way to get some background noise at work.