12 of the Best Features in MacOS Monterey to Try Out

Nov 2, 2021 - 4 Comments

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

Apple has finally released the new macOS Monterey update after months of developer and public beta testing. If you’ve already went ahead and installed macOS Monterey, then you’ll come across a ton of new changes shortly after you update your Mac.

While macOS Monterey isn’t a UI redesign like last year’s macOS Big Sur update, it still brings a ton of new functional improvements that should grab the attention of long-time Mac users. Apple has made notable changes in key areas such as privacy, browsing, video calls, messaging, and more.

We’re going to run through some of the major macOS Monterey features that you’ll want to try out.

12 Great New macOS Monterey Features You Should Try

All the features we’ve listed below are in no particular order. As long as you have downloaded and installed macOS Monterey you’ll be good to try them out on your own.

1. Live Text

Your Mac running macOS Monterey is now smart enough to detect text in images. You can double-click on any text in the image to select it and then copy, select, or “Look Up” as you would with any regular text.

Live Text works with images in Photos, Safari, Quick Look, and Screenshot.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

As good as this feature sounds, you’ll need a modern Intel Mac or a Mac with Apple Silicon to use Live Text in macOS Monterey. Since newer Macs support the feature while older ones do not, you can still try out Live Text on your iPhone or iPad running iOS 15/iPadOS 15.

2. AirPlay to Mac

AirPlay is a feature that has been around for over a decade on Apple devices. However, what’s new is that your Mac can now act as an AirPlay receiver, just like the Apple TV or the HomePod. This means you can stream content to your Mac from your iPhone or mirror its screen on your Mac’s much bigger display at the press of a button.

You can access AirPlay from the Control Center on an iPhone or iPad, or via the built-in video player. Then you simply select the Mac as the destination for video mirroring or the video itself. Cool right?

You can check out how to AirPlay to a Mac to learn more about this feature.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

3. Safari Tab Grouping & Compact View Option

The native Safari web browser gets its biggest visual overhaul in years with the macOS Monterey update, if you choose the Compact view option anyway. It now sports a streamlined tab bar which takes up less room on the page, but the tabs themselves have a rounder appearance to improve visibility. You can adjust the way Safari looks by going to Safari Preferences > Tabs > and choosing Compact or Standard.

Visual changes aside, the most significant addition to Safari is Tab Groups, which lets you organize all your tabs better. They sync with iCloud, meaning you can seamlessly switch between your devices without losing your tabs. The sidebar has also been slightly redesigned and now displays Shared with You links and Tab Groups.

4. Quick Notes

Apple’s Notes app makes it easy to take notes, make to-do lists, and more. However, sometimes, opening the Notes app feels like an extra step when you want to write down things quickly. Well, not anymore, because macOS Monterey brings Quick Notes as a Hot Corners function, or as a keystroke.

To use Quick Notes as a keystroke, simply hit fn+Q.

To use Quick Notes as a hot corner, all you need to do is move the cursor to the lower-right corner of your screen to open a new Quick Note. If you’ve¬†set up Hot Corners on your Mac¬†before, you’ll need to first assign Quick Note to one of the four corners.

Type in whatever you want and the information will be automatically saved in the Notes app when you’re done.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

5. Shared with You

This feature aims to improve the content you receive in the Messages app. Shared with You works in tandem with other stock apps like Safari, Apple TV, Apple Music, Photos, and more. It works by segregating the content you receive from your contacts in Messages.

Your iMessage contacts may share links, images, music, and other attachments during conversations. More often than not, you may be busy to check them out immediately. Shared with You will immediately add these shared content to the relevant apps. For example, if you receive a web link, you’ll see it in Safari under the Shared with You section the next time you open it.¬†Thanks to Shared with You, you no longer have to scroll through hundreds of messages to find the shared content you want to access. The only downside is that this feature is limited to Apple’s apps, at least for now.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

6. Shortcuts App

If you own an iPhone or an iPad, you may be familiar with the Shortcuts app. This nifty app has finally made its way to the Macs with the new macOS Monterey update. It allows you to run various custom tasks on your device like schedule messages, change wallpaper automatically, and so on.

You can create custom shortcuts from scratch or find pre-configured shortcuts in the Gallery to use on your Mac. You can even run iPhone and iPad shortcuts on your Mac.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

If you’ve used the Automator app on your Mac before, you’ll be pleased to know that you can now convert your workflows into shortcuts too.

7. Universal Control

Without a doubt, this feature was Apple’s biggest flex at the WWDC 2021 event. Universal Control allows you to control your iPad or another Mac using your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad. This is huge because you no longer need to rely on a separate mouse when working with multiple Apple devices. The best part of this feature is that it works out of the box. All you need to do is place your iPad or Mac next to your Mac and then push the cursor from one device to another. Sounds amazing, right? This is kind of like the popular Synergy app, except it works with iPad too.

Universal Control is perhaps the most hotly anticipated macOS Monterey feature, but… it’s not out yet!

Whenever Universal Control does arrive, perhaps in macOS Monterey 12.1, 12,2, 12.3, or whenever, you’ll be sure to want to check it out.

8. New Microphone Modes for FaceTime

Video calling has become extremely popular in the last couple of years, and Apple wants to make sure you have a pleasant experience with FaceTime. You have access to two new microphone modes in macOS Monterey that use machine learning to enhance the audio quality during your FaceTime calls. One of them is called the Voice Isolation mode, which focuses on your voice and filters out all the background noise.

The other mode is called the Wide Spectrum mode, which does the opposite and makes every sound in the room audible.

You’ll find this useful if multiple people are in the room trying to communicate with the person you’re video calling.¬†

You can access these new mic modes from the Control Center once you’re in an active video call.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

9. Focus Mode

You may already be familiar with the Do Not Disturb mode in macOS, but Apple is replacing it with a more advanced feature called Focus mode. It works just like the good old Do Not Disturb mode for the most part, except that you now have a lot more control over it. Focus allows you to filter notifications from contacts and apps depending on your activity. You have access to a couple of pre-set modes like Work, Sleep, and Driving, but you can always create a custom mode from scratch if needed.

Focus can be enabled or disabled from the Control Center, but if you’re lazy to do it manually, you can set up a time-based, location-based, or app-based automation from the Focus Preferences panel.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

10. Hide My Email

Nowadays, almost everything you do online requires you to share your email addresses, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Many users would love to keep it as private as possible. Well, with macOS Monterey, Apple allows you to do just that with the new Hide My Email feature. It’s a part of the company’s new privacy-oriented iCloud+ service that doesn’t cost extra if you’re already paying for iCloud.

Hide My Email lets you generate a unique and random email address that forwards emails to your personal mail inbox. You can delete this email at any time and switch to a different random address when you want to. You no longer have to give away your personal or work email address every time you sign up on a website.

You can set this feature up on your Mac by going to System Preferences -> Apple ID -> iCloud. Click on “Options” next to Hide My Email to get started.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

11. iCloud Private Relay

This is another iCloud+ feature you can use if you’re already paying for iCloud. Private Relay works sort of like a VPN, but it cannot replace your average VPN. You can use Private Relay to mask your real IP address with a generalized local IP address or a country-specific address. It ensures that the traffic leaving your device is encrypted so that no one can intercept and read it.

However, unlike a regular VPN, you cannot use to bypass geoblocks and access region-locked content and services.

Another important point to note here is that Private Relay only works in Safari. So, you’re out of luck if you’re someone who uses Chrome as the default browser.

To enable or disable Private Relay, simply head over to System Preferences -> Apple ID -> iCloud on your Mac.

12 Best macOS Monterey Features

12. SharePlay

SharePlay is one of the most notable additions to macOS Monterey, but it’s last on the list solely because Apple delayed this feature to macOS 12.1 for some reason (perhaps with Universal Control).

SharePlay is basically a watch party feature that seamlessly works during FaceTime calls. You can use it to start or join a watch party or a listening party on your Mac where the content stays in sync for all the participants in the call. In addition to stock apps like Apple TV and Apple Music, Apple promises third-party developer support for this feature with the help of the new SharePlay API. Popular services like Twitch, Disney+, Hulu, etc. have already announced support for SharePlay.

Now, that’s a whole lot of great features, right? So check them out yourself, and get used to them in your workflow and Mac environment.

If you own an iPhone or an iPad, don’t be surprised to find many of these features on iOS and iPadOS too. This is to be expected since it’s well-known that Apple likes to provide a consistent experience across its devices. Feel free to check out some of the best features that iOS 15 has to offer.

We hope you were able to take advantage of all these new features without running into any issues. Which one of these macOS Monterey features is your personal favorite? Do you have another personal favorite Monterey feature? Share with us your experiences and don’t forget to leave your valuable feedback in the comments section down below.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks

4 Comments

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  1. Could you do a separate, more in-depth piece on tab groups?

  2. Alex says:

    One thing I hate the most from Apple is whilst Hide My Email and iCloud Private Relay are features related to iCloud+, even after paying the extra for the iCloud+ service in order to have these two new features, macOS Catalina hasn’t been granted to.

    Do I have to buy a newer Mac to get Monterey just for these two features?

    Come on Apple, you should do better than this.

    • JohnIL says:

      Many new features are developed for the new Apple silicon hardware and not Mac’s using Intel hardware. Some of these features may simply not work with the Intel systems. Monterey is probably the first release to really start adding functions that take advantage of the Apple silicon hardware. Considering that Intel Mac’s are now legacy I doubt too Apple is working to adapt them to new features even if its possible.

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