MacOS High Sierra: 29 new changes you can actually see

We’ll admit it: MacOS High Sierra is kind of boring compared to previous updates to the Mac operating system.

Sure, it has a new file system underneath, and it will eventually include support for virtual reality experiences. But in terms of obvious visual changes for the average consumers to get excited about, there weren’t many announced by Apple at WWDC 2017 in June. That said, the public beta just released yesterday, and we’ve been combing through it, trying to discover several new tweaks.

Some of the changes were boldly announced on stage, while others were only briefly mentioned. There were even a few that we didn’t know were included. The Photos app, as well as Mail, Safari, Notes, Spotlight, and Siri have all been greatly improved in High Sierra. In fact, here are all the forward-facing changes we’ve noticed so far in Apple’s latest refinement-focused macOS release.

While the Photos app originated as a tool you could use to manage your photo library and sync pictures across devices via the cloud, it’s now a powerful editing software. There’s a persistent sidebar that shows your library, Memories, Live Photos, and albums. You can also view photos based on type – whether that be burst shots, panoramas, etc.

There’s a new Imports section in the sidebar that also lets you quickly view recently imported media. There’s also an easy way in the side bar to get to your hidden photos, rather than just going through the menu bar.

Just like iOS 11, you can save and play GIFs in the Photos app.

There’s a new filtering drop-down in the list view, so you can drag-and-drop photos into an album or even to the desktop to export it.

The edit view has been revamped to include new tools, like curves and selective color. We noticed a new “Compare” button in the corner, too, so you can quickly see the before and after of your adjustments.

You can also now move from Photos to whatever editor you prefer and then save edits without being left with multiple copies. So, you can go move into Photoshop, saves any edits, and those edits will sync across your devices as if you were still in Photos. Just right click on a photo in Photos, and then you can share it to another editing app.

Furthermore, High Sierra has the new Live Photos features available in iOS 11, such as loop, bounce, and long exposure effects. You can trim and mute a Live Photo, too, as well as choose a new keyframe.

The Memories feature is more intelligent now. It can create memories for birthdays, sporting events, weddings, anniversaries, etc.

Lastly, you can now publish books and websites using third-party companies like Shutterfly and Wix.

Tire of annoying auto-playing videos on Facebook and elsewhere? In High Sierra, Safari protects you against them. You can set preferences for individual websites or a block all autoplay altogether. You can also just stops content with sound or let everything play.

Safari offers smart tracking prevention. It uses machine learning to detect the advertisers that track you on the web, and then it remove the data. That means you won’t see that product you looked up on Amazon shown to you for days on end when you visit other sites.

You can also set Safari to the Reader mode in order to blank-out the page to show nothing but article content. The new option basically lets you automatically open any web article directly in Reader mode, as long as the website supports it.

Safari: More granular controls

Safari has added added more privacy controls for your Mac’s camera, microphone, and notifications. You’ll be able to specify display settings on a per-site basis, too. You can pick the zoom level, location services, content blockers, and more.

Now, when you search through your Mail inbox, Top Hits will make your search much more accurate. It looks at how often and how recently you’ve read a message. It determines if the sender is a favourite contact or person marked as a VIP in preferences. It also sees how often someone emails you and how often you reply. Top Hits will get more relevant and helpful the more you search in Mail, too.

Now, with Split View in Mail, you’ll be able to reply to an email while combing through your inbox, or whatever.

You can now pin notes, keeping the most urgent or important ones at the top of the list.

Tables can be created and added in Notes now, too. Who knows when you’d need to make a table in notes, but we’re sure someone will use it.

Notes made it difficult to search for a word and see it highlighted, but now, it’ll do just that, so you can easily locate a word in the results.

Siri is getting more natural voices – the same ones coming to iOS 11.

Siri is better at handling music requests. You could always ask it to play a specific song, but now you can ask to “play some music”. You’ll then get a personalised playlist. You can also ask it to play something based on a mood, like sad, as well as something genre-specific.

Spotlight will track your flight status, so you can see if its on time. You can also see path, duration, and departure/arrival terminal info.

You can now type longer questions and ask it to recommend you stuff. Also, Spotlight shows multiple results from Wikipedia when you search.

Apple now lets you set up different preferences in family sharing – whether that be for Apple Music, shared purchases, etc. Also, now everyone can use up storage from the same storage plan. And 200GB of iCloud storage costs $2.99 per month going forward, while 2TB is $9.99 a month.

Files saved to iCloud Drive can be shared with others, enabling collaboration. That means everyone can access and work on the document in real-time. Compatible third-party apps can also work on iCloud Drive files, and you can share directly from the share sheet.

High Sierra can store your iMessage history in the cloud, just like iOS 11 will do, which should make it easier to access your conversations when you set up a new device. The feature is end-to-end encrypted as well.

Next time you’re on a FaceTime call, you can capture a Live Photo using the other person’s camera and mic on their Mac or iOS device. The person will be notified whenever a Live Photo is taken, of course. Just look for the new shutter button and click it.

Finally! You can copy on one Mac and paste it onto a another Mac that’s nearby and signed into your account, thanks to Universal Clipboard, which was first introduced as a feature between macOS and iOS. 

Apple said you can double tap the volume button on the touch bar to mute your Mac’s audio. And you can swipe to adjust the volume and display brightness. There are also buttons for Night Shift and AirPlay.

There’s a new system font in High Sierra, called San Franciso Arabic.

This may be obvious, but there’s a new wallpaper in High Sierra. It’s from the mountains in High Sierra.

Check out Pocket-lint’s High Sierra guide to learn about the bigger changes you can’t see. 

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