How to get started with the macOS High Sierra public beta

macOS High Sierra is now in public beta, so more people can now check out what new features it has to offer. Here's how you can get started.

If you've just downloaded the macOS High Sierra public beta to your Mac, you might be wondering where you should get started. Well, here's what you can look forward to in the public beta and how you can report bugs and give feedback to Apple.

New features in the macOS High Sierra public beta

High Sierra

macOS High Sierra focuses mostly on under-the-hood improvements, such as APFS and the HEVC video codec, but that doesn't mean that users are left entirely out in the cold. Here are the big new features of macOS High Sierra that you'll find in macOS High Sierra.

Photos

If you spend a lot of time in Photos on your Mac, you're going to notice a number of improvements with High Sierra. There are new tools for editing like selective color and curves, as well as new filters. You can add the new Loop, Bounce, or Long Exposure effects to Live Photos. You can filter photo collections by different criteria instantly, and drag and drop selected images into an album or onto the desktop using the new selection counter. Photos also features brand new categories for Memories, like pets, babies, and birthdays, while Faces from your photos are now synced between your Mac, iPhone, and iPad with iCloud Photo Library.

Safari

Two of Safari's most prominent new features may not actually require you to do anything yourself, but you will notice them and reap the benefits. The browser's new Intelligent Tracking Prevention uses machine learning in an effort to prevent you from being tracked as you browse the web, removing cross-site tracking data that advertisers and social networks use to collect information about your browsing and purchasing habits.

One of the other major improvements centers on a major web annoyance: auto-playing videos. Safari will keep videos with audio from auto-playing in the first place. With Safari's new site behavior customization tools, you can actually determine which sites should get to auto-play videos and which shouldn't on a per-site basis. Those tools also let you enable or disable content blockers for a site, and whether you want to always use Reader when it's available for a given page.

Siri

Coming alongside a similar update in iOS 11, Siri on macOS High Sierra has more natural-sounding male and female voices, and can offer more variation in its expression, intonation, and emphasis. This helps Siri sound more like a person.

The other area where Siri has improved is with music, specifically, Apple Music. Siri will learn your musical preferences, which will, in turn, let you do things like request a new weekend playlist, or ask Siri to play music to reflect your mood.

iCloud

Sharing and collaboration with iCloud Drive will get easier with High Sierra. You'll be able to share your files in iCloud Drive using just a link. Add people to a file, they'll get a link, and they'll be able to start working on it right away. You don't have to worry about different copies or version management.

You can also decide what level of access the people you invite have to a file. Can they also work on it, or can they only read it? Who can see the file? Do they need a link or do you have to explicitly invite them? All of this will be up to you.

Families will also be able to share their iCloud storage plan, either 200GB or 2TB, so you don't have to get separate plans for every member of the family.

Messages

With the introduction of High Sierra and iOS 11, Apple will automatically save your entire message history in iCloud. This means that when you open Messages for the first time on a brand new Mac after signing in with your iCloud Apple ID, all of your conversations will be right there, complete with photos and other attachments.

Notes

Keep important notes at the top of your list with the new pinning feature in Notes. Have a weekly grocery list or recurring meeting agenda? Pin it to the top of your list it so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle as you continue to add notes.

Notes in High Sierra also let you add custom tables right in your notes, making it easier to keep track of expenses, organize meetings, and more.

Mail

Searching in Mail gets easier with High Sierra thanks to Top Hits. This feature puts what Mail thinks are the most relevant messages to your search term at the top of your list. Top Hits takes into account mail that you've read, which senders you reply to most often, and VIP contacts, among other factors.

FaceTime

Finally, this last feature may be minor, but it's still fun. Through FaceTime, the ability to capture a Live Photo has now come to the Mac. The new photo capture button allows you to take a Live Photo during a FaceTime call. When you take a photo, both you and the other participant in the call get a notification, and you'll find the Live Photo in your Photos library, where you'll be able to edit it to your heart's content.

What's missing from the macOS High Sierra public beta

Mac VR

VR

Okay, so virtual reality support is "technically" available and if you have a VR headset you can download the beta release of SteamVR for Mac. But beyond that, VR on the Mac is not quite ready for primetime, and for many, requires additional hardware, like a brand-new 2017 iMac. Your other option is a Thunderbolt 3 external GPU kit, which are available for $500 for those in Apple Developer Program, though full eGPU support in macOS High Sierra isn't planned until spring 2018.

How to report bugs in macOS High Sierra

Feedback

Look, a public beta for macOS isn't all fun and games. This isn't just early access to a completely stable operating system we're talking about. High Sierra is currently in beta, and whether you're running the developer or public beta, things are bound to go wrong in some way at some point. When they do, it's your responsibility as a beta tester to let Apple know through the Feedback Assistant app that comes with the public beta release.