Sierra brings security updates and other miscellaneous features, but the main attraction still is Siri. Read on for getting the best out of your Mac. (At least until High Sierra becomes available probably next month).
Siri – Save search results
Siri’s default shortcut is cmd+space, and once you’ve committed that to memory, you’ll be calling her up for every stray thought, and why not? She’s there, she’s not a person. Use her… Er, it. Whenever your stray thoughts get too distracting, you can save Siri’s search results for later by clicking the small + sign on the top right. Later, find it in the Notification Sidebar.
Siri – Image drag
Siri is a very cool multitask enabler as you no longer have to open a new tab and google, or quit your work to send a tweet/text. Once you’ve set up a shortcut, she’s at your beck and call. You can ask her to search for images, whether from your computer or the web, and when she delivers you can directly drag and drop them into the program in which you’re working! Apple is actually making our lives pretty convenient!
Siri – Make her your Mac manager
Siri can now do a lot, like, tell you about your Mac. Go on.. ask her how fast is your computer! For more useful stuff, you can ask her to remind you things based on your location, like by saying “Remind me to take out the trash when I get home.” She can also mute your Mac or adjust your screen’s brightness. All this while speaking like you would to your slave. The version of Siri that comes with Sierra can even retrieve files on your computer, so put that to good use!
Siri – Chain Queries
Siri on the Mac is even better than before as it can handle sequential queries while maintaining context. This means you can ask questions more like a human. For example, if you first ask “Do I have Abhi in my contacts?” and then say “Send him an email”, Siri will ‘understand’ that you mean Abhi. We’ll leave it to your imagination to find more use cases, but rest assured you cannot do any mathemagic tricks that start with “Think of any number.”
Play videos and preview links from messages
Sharing content with your friends got a lot more fun with the Sierra update. The live preview feature works as soon as you paste in a link so that there is no need to open a separate browser window to view the link. Similarly, video links show a preview, albeit with simplistic controls. You can even double click on the video preview to give a reaction to the video. Yay, fun.
Free up space using Optimised Storage
If you’re consistently low on space on your Mac, you may want Sierra to help you out. Click on the Apple logo in the Menu Bar, then go to About This Mac > Storage > Manage. Here you will find four options to help you save space. You can store some files in iCloud if you have space there, and select Optimized Storage so that some cleaning is automatically done for you. Emptying the trashcan automatically is also recommended. May not be much, but it’s something. Lastly, you get the option to review your largest and oldest files. If you see things you don’t need, out with them and say hello to some storage space!
Use PIP to multitask while watching videos
Ever wanted to watch a video while doing something else? Sierra supports a new feature called Picture in Picture. If you’re browsing a video website on Safari, this feature allows you to continue watching the video in a minimized box in the corner of your screen while you carry on with your work as usual. On Vimeo you can directly click the Picture-in-Picture icon in the toolbar, whereas on YouTube, you have to right click twice and select the appropriate option.
Have more fun with the Photos App
A bane of the Mac’s Preview application is the inability to view a simple slideshow from a collection of pictures in a folder. But fret not, when you do things the proper way (importing into Photos) Sierra delivers a lot more! The Photos app is revamped with better AI that helps you automatically categorise your clicks in the Memories tab, from where you can make slideshows and whatever else tickles your fancy. The AI sorts through thousands of your photos to recognise more than 4,000 different objects and seven facial expressions so you can search for precisely what you want, just like Google Photos, but without the unlimited storage facility.
Whereas iCloud previously had a dedicated folder à la Dropbox where you stored and viewed your files, now you can have your Documents and Desktop stored on the cloud while viewing them as you normally would. Head to System Preferences > iCloud, make sure iCloud Drive is activated and click on Options next to it. Select the checkbox next to Documents and Desktop Folders and soon your files will be moved to the cloud for you, while being accessible exactly as before!
With macOS Sierra there is no need to type in your long passwords anymore if you own an Apple Watch. Setting this up is a three-step process. First open System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details > Security and make sure Two-Factor Authentication is turned ON. Next, set up a passcode for your Watch from your iPhone > Watch > My Watch > Passcode > Turn Passcode On. After you set the 4 digit PIN, back on your Mac go to System Preferences > Security and Privacy. There, Uncheck ‘Disable Automatic Login’ and Check ‘Allow your Watch to unlock your Mac’.
Use tabs to switch between windows of the same App
Juggling work across multiple windows and having to flip back and forth is one of the reasons people go to anger management therapy. That’s why browsers have had tabs for quite some time now, for the simple reason that they make life easier. Now macOS Sierra brings this window management functionality to some other applications as well. When you have more than one window of say, Pages, open, with Pages in the foreground, on the Menu Bar, go to Window > Merge All Windows. All the Pages windows will coalesce into a single window with multiple tabs. No more foreground background window shuffling! Feel the shanti…
This article was first published in the March 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.