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10 tiny macOS Sierra features I love

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I have a lot of emotional investment in my Mac and I'm probably more excited about macOS Sierra than I am about iOS 10. We already know about some of the biggest features, and iMore EiC Rene Ritchie has given us an in-depth review of the new version of the Mac operating system, but there are plenty of smaller features coming your way. These are my 10 favorite tiny new features coming to macOS Sierra this fall.

1. Tabs, tabs, and more tabs!

I like to think of myself as an organized person, but there are times when I'm working that my desktop looks like it was hit by a hurricane – and I'm not talking about the table my computer sits on. I'm talking about my Mac's desktop screen. I'll have window on top of window on top of window. I can keep Safari tidy because of tabs. But, when I'm working in other apps, it just gets sloppy. In macOS Sierra, any app that supports multiple windows now support tabs, even third-party apps! So, no more cluttered up desktop. Instead, everything can be neatly stacked in their own little space, just the way I like it.

2. You can sort Applications by last accessed in Storage Management

Apple has added a feature to help you manage your files called Optimized Storage. With it, you can store older files in iCloud, automatically delete movies you've already watched, and erase trash that is more than 30 days old. But, when you select the Applications or Documents tab, you can sort those items by the date (or time) they were last accessed. I'm not talking about the last time they were modified. I mean, the last time they were opened. So, if you can't remember where you are keeping that video clip you wanted to show your friend, but you know you just played it for your coworker yesterday, you can filter your documents under Large Files to see what you opened yesterday and find it there.

3. You can pin Siri results to Notification Center

I just can't get over how fun it is to ask Siri to search for something and then pin that search result to the Today view of Notification Center. I've got the current time in Winnipeg, so I'll always know when my fellow Mobile Nations writers are sleeping, and a web search for pictures of my bae, Benedict Cumberbatch.

This will be very useful in the future when I'm trying to keep track of important documents for a big project.

4. Siri can control playback in the Music app

While you are playing tunes from the Music app, you can ask Siri to pause, skip, and replay a song. You can also have Siri start playing a song, album, or playlist from your music library or Apple Music. No more searching for tunes. Just ask Siri to do it for you.

5. You can change Siri's voice

Have you always wished that your personal assistant had an Australian accent? Well, now you can have one. You can change Siri's voice from female to male and have it speak with an Australian, British, Irish, or South African accent. I should warn you, though, if you don't speak with any of those English accents, Siri might not understand you very well.

6. You can Tapback comments in Messages

I may not use all of the features in the new Messages app on iOS 10, but I love using the Tapback reaction. I oftentimes wish I could simply "like" someone's email or thumbs-down someone's text message. It's a great way to convey a feeling without having to spend any time expressing it. The Messages app on macOS Sierra doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of the iOS 10 version, but it does have Tapbacks and it is my new favorite way of responding to a message. "Want to practice tonight?" gets a thumbs up. "How come you didn't" gets a question mark. It's great and only takes a moment to react.

7. You can binge-watch TV shows while you work

Oh yes. It's finally here. Picture-in-picture is pretty much the greatest thing ever. I can work on my computer while watching hours and hours of cartoons from the 1980s. With Safari's Picture-in-Picture (PiP), you can pop out a small viewfinder to watch movies on YouTube, Vimeo, or other websites that will support PiP. Come next March, your productivity won't fall nearly as much because you can actually keep working while watching the Final Four.

8. Siri will read your emails to you

If you have a dozen emails sitting in your inbox, you can have Siri read you all of the subject lines. Thanks to Siri's sequential inference, if you get an email that you want to read in its entirety, ask Siri to "Read that email," and the virtual assistant will read everything. When the messages is over, Siri will also ask if you want to respond to the email.

9. Your Mac desktops now all look alike.

With desktop syncing in iCloud, you get more than just a folder in iCloud Drive with your desktop files and folders in it. All of your Mac's desktops look the same. Files and folders appear on all Home screens, in the same position. Everything you add to or remove from one Mac's desktop will also appear or disappear on another. I absolutely love this feature. I am always taking screenshots on one computer that I want to use on another. I used to have to sync them in Dropbox, but not anymore. Now, when I switch from my laptop to my desktop, those screenshots are right there waiting for me.

When someone sends you a URL in Messages, you'll actually see pictures, and even videos, right in the chat window. So, if your friend sends you a funny cat video, you can watch it without having to leave the app. You won't have to open it in Safari first. We may not get all of the cool features that iOS 10 has for iMessages, but the ones we do get are pretty sweet.

Your favorites?

Are you running macOS Sierra's public beta? What are some tiny but awesome features you love?

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

20 Comments
  • I can have an automated Australian man's voice read my emails to me? I'm going to have to start using my MacBook again.
  • Siri on my iPhone has been an Australian man for quite a while. MUCH better than the default voice.... :-)
  • I like using Siri for playing music.
  • My single-most favorite feature is in Safari 10, it will auto-close the new tab when you go back. This is awesome when you click on a link to open in a new tab and when you're done with it, swipe back and Safari will close that tab automatically to take you back to the original tab. This save me so much time.
  • Page zoom in Safari is kinda cool. It used to be minimum type size which would mess up the view of many sites.
    It should however be possible to set the zoom level by website; that would make it truly useful.
  • Safari 10 remembers zoom levels set on a per-site basis
  • Awesome
  • I find it's the tiniest things that most people won't even notice. Like clicking the volume icon has a slider but it also tells you what is the active sound device. FINALLY Grab saves to JPGs! I've been asking for this forever. I take so many screenshots and before I would have to open the TIFs and save to JPGs. Sent from the iMore App
  • The sound device thing was there but hidden before, there are some more options hidden too. If you hold down the option key and press the volume icon you'll see the hidden options, it's a nice touch to just be able to see it on clicking normally though
  • Apple should Pay Stephen Fry to do a Siri voice.
    Having Jeeves as a personal assistant would be perfect.
  • "Siri will read your emails to you" Voice-Over has been doing that for years.
  • That's true, although it's a more automated experience with Siri
  • I'm more interested in having my macOS calendar actually match my iOS calendar. How about making events added to other email systems (Outlook) actually show up on my my Mac calendar. It works for iOS just fine. Most of us don't live exclusively in the Apple ecosystem.
  • I love the marketing from Apple. Siri on the Mac could of done three years ago. Tabs? Yeah sure finally.... nothing really wow on all these updates just marketing
  • Really? Not having it before but have it now = wow!
  • I agree. Sent from the iMore App
  • Is it only desktops that sync across computers? Off-hand, it sounds nice, but I sure wouldn't want to duplicate anything beyond maybe the desktop. I can always grab files on my home iMac from my laptop when I'm at the office via Finder. If they go beyond simply the desktop, that could take up space on both machines needlessly.
  • How exactly does the desktop sharing work? If I activate on both my macs does it combine the desktops all in one or does one overwrite the other when it is activated on the second mac? This is the one confusing thing I haven't figured out and can't find discussed anywhere (that I know of). Thanks
  • Does the desktop sync option inform you of the potential iCloud storage needs prior to agreeing to it?
  • You can already sort apps by last opened in El Capitan. Just right-click on the column, choose "Date Last Opened" and sort by that. Nothing new there.