macOS Monterey brings Universal Control, Shortcuts, and Safari improvements

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macOS Monterey
Big Sur is dead. Long live macOS Monterey!
Photo: Apple

macOS Monterey will bring a plethora of nifty new abilities to Mac — and, in the process, help make Macs work even better with iPhones and iPads.

Announced Monday during the Worldwide Developers Conference’s opening keynote, it will be the first new Mac operating system following the arrival of Apple Silicon across the entire product line. This year’s update isn’t close to the giant redesign that was 2020’s macOS 11 Big Sur. But macOS Monterey 12 nonetheless boasts a bevy of exciting new features.

Continuity: The next generation

Apple introduced its Continuity feature with Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite back in 2014. With Apple shying away from a Microsoft-style merging of its mobile and desktop operating systems, Continuity is one of the smart ways Apple has brought together Macs, iPhones, and iPads. This year’s macOS version boasts a next-gen Continuity, which Apple calls Universal Control.

macOS Monterey's Universal Control could be massive for Mac and iPad users.
Universal Control could be massive.
Photo: Apple

It allows users to easily jump between Macs and iPad by handing off from one to the other. While this has been possible in a small way for years, on macOS you’re literally able to click-and-drag a file off the edge of your Mac to an iPad that’s set up next to it. You can also use it to hand off your mouse and keyboard control from one device to the next with ease. This can even be done across multiple devices, so that you could move from a MacBook to iMac to iPad. It looks a very neat tool, which should make workflows between your devices more straightforward.

There’s also now AirPlay to Mac, allowing users to beam media from their iPhone to their Mac screen. You could, for example, stream a presentation from your iPhone on the bigger screen of the Mac. Alternatively, you could bring up a song on Apple Music on your iPhone and then play it on the superior speakers of your iMac.

iOS and macOS get closer

In keeping with the increased closeness of iOS and macOS, users on Mac will be able to take advantage of some of the big new iOS features. These include SharePlay, allowing members of the same FaceTime call to share media, such as movies or music, during the same call. Apple Mail will also stop emailers from telling when an email has been read. Again, this is the same as a feature available for iPadOS and iOS users.

Shortcuts will be a big part of this year's macOS
Shortcuts will be a big part of this year’s macOS.
Photo: Apple

Shortcuts for Mac

Shortcut jumps from iOS to Mac this year, allowing users to create automated shortcuts to enhance productivity. Shortcuts let you link series of actions for certain workflows, saving users time. Craig Federighi showed off this new feature, and said that Shortcuts will be woven throughout macOS, allowing users to run them across multiple apps. This is, he said, part of a multi-year effort on Apple’s part — so expect to see this built on in the future.

Safari gets better

Apple additionally talked up Safari and its status as the world’s fastest and most power efficient browser. This year, Safari is getting a neat new touch in the form of tab groups, that aim to declutter your browsing experience. It means you can have multiple tabs open at the same time, but grouped into categories. For anyone who has multiple sites open at the same time, this should be a neatness hack that will make it more straightforward to stay on top of your open tabs.

macOS Monterey is an exciting update, if not a transformative one
macOS Monterey is an exciting update, if not a transformative one.
Photo: Apple

Evolutionary, not revolutionary

As noted, last year’s macOS Big Sur ushered in massive changes to macOS, making it one of the biggest updates in a years. It’s therefore not much of a surprise that this year’s updates look a whole lot more minor. That’s not to say that a stability-focused version with a few nifty updates isn’t great news, though. The Mac line is currently going through a transformation, and Apple’s reestablishing the importance of the Mac product line at the heart of what it does.

As Craig Federighi said, “With people using the Mac more than ever, macOS has become an even bigger part of our daily lives. And our next release is focused on helping you do even more.”

Early developers will get to put macOS Monterey through its paces right away. A public beta will then follow in July, before the full version ships in fall.

What did you think of macOS Monterey? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.