Apple MacOS Monterey (12.0.1) review: Productivity firmly back on the menu


  • AirPlay to Mac
  • Time-conserving tab controls in Safari
  • Enhanced automation by means of Shortcuts app

You should not Like

  • Universal Handle has long gone AWOL
  • Some functions only obtainable on Apple Silicon Macs

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) was especially eventful this yr, with an elevated concentrate on expert services and parts this sort of as well being and health, together with the common software package updates that commonly dominate the developer-centered occasion. In among all these bulletins, MacOS — when the sole raison d’être of WWDC — merited scarcely ten minutes out of the opening 100-minute keynote. 

Which is a small misleading, while, as lots of of the new functions in MacOS 12 — codenamed Monterey — are centered on apps this sort of as FaceTime and Notes, which the Mac shares with the Apple iphone and iPad. Many new functions, this sort of as Quick Notes and improved controls for video calls in FaceTime, ended up lined throughout the iOS portion of the keynote, as ended up the new ‘focus’ functions for lowering distraction though performing on your Mac or iPad throughout the working day.  

This did at least necessarily mean that the time devoted to Monterey throughout the keynote could concentrate on a essential group of new functions that will have Mac customers keen to down load Monterey, which was manufactured obtainable to the general public as a free upgrade on October 26. 


 A summary of the essential new functions in Apple’s MacOS 12 (Monterey).

Impression: Apple

Using again control 

A beta version of Monterey has been obtainable for numerous months, and it was clear throughout the beta that some functions ended up proving rather troublesome. The headline-grabber throughout the WWDC presentation was Universal Handle, which permits you to handle a number of Apple units — this sort of as a desktop Mac, a MacBook notebook and an iPad — with a solitary mouse (or trackpad) and keyboard.  

SEE: MacBook Pro start: Matters you may perhaps have missed

This was especially interesting to expert and innovative customers, who would be in a position to swiftly switch among a desktop Mac, a notebook or an iPad though performing, specifically as Universal Handle also permits you to drag and fall files among units much too.  


Universal Handle will — in owing study course — let you to get the job done across Apple units, launching and controlling apps, and dragging and dropping files.

Impression: Apple

Nevertheless, Universal Handle wasn’t obtainable throughout the beta check phase, and Apple has now verified that each Universal Handle and the SharePlay functions for sharing video calls in FaceTime have been delayed until “later this drop”.  

It is also really worth noting that numerous functions — together with the new Portrait mode for the Digicam and FaceTime apps — only operate on Macs that use Apple’s dwelling-developed M1 SoCs. Which is a trend that will likely continue on with foreseeable future variations of MacOS, as Apple completes the transition from Intel processors to its own Apple Silicon across the entire Mac variety. 

AirPlay To Mac 

The absence of Universal Handle is disappointing, but the extended list of new functions integrated in Monterey does seem to be largely total. And since lots of of people functions are presently obtainable in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, they’ve had some working-in time to ensure that they get the job done effortlessly and reliably. 

One more new characteristic that grabbed the focus of lots of expert customers was AirPlay to Mac, which permits an Apple iphone or iPad running iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 to stream its display to a Mac’s larger display screen. Not only does AirPlay to Mac get the job done effortlessly, but I’m pleased to obtain that it performs much better than anticipated.  

You can stream a presentation to your Mac, or use a stylus to sketch on the display screen of an iPad though viewing your get the job done on the larger Mac display. Nevertheless, I also found that I could stream video from 1 app, this sort of as the BBC iPlayer, to the display screen of my business iMac, and then switch to a further app on the iPad to check out my e-mail, browse the website or build a new document in Pages — with video output from the iPlayer app continuing to engage in on the iMac. 


AirPlay to Mac: Streaming AV content from Apple units to an iMac’s display.

Impression: Apple

This AirPlay streaming only performs with units that are on the same community and signed into the same AppleID, but enterprise customers who are concerned about security can completely deactivate this characteristic on the Mac, utilizing the AirPlay Receiver selection in the Mac’s Sharing Choices panel. 


You can disable AirPlay to Mac by unchecking the AirPlay Receiver box.

Impression: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

Mind you, AirPlay to Mac did remind me of the old Target Display screen Mode that offered a identical characteristic for iMacs — albeit by means of a wired relationship — until it was frustratingly removed by Apple just about a 10 years in the past.  

I felt a identical instant of nostalgia with the new Shortcuts app for the Mac, which has been now been brought to the Mac from iOS. Built as a replacement for the Mac’s Automator app, the Shortcuts app had me wondering wistfully of the glory times of Hypercard (glance it up…), which assisted lots of budding young programmers get began again in the ’80s and ’90s.  

The Shortcuts app labored fine in the beta version of Monterey, even though it failed to incorporate lots of all set-manufactured Shortcuts to enable folks get began. Thankfully, the remaining version of the app now consists of an intensive gallery of shortcuts masking a broad variety of jobs, from setting a timer for your toothbrush plan, to scheduling meetings and video calls, and improving upon accessibility. 

Tab handling in Safari 

For lots of folks, while, the solitary most welcome characteristic in Monterey could be the improved handling of tabs in the Safari website browser, and its capability to build Tab Groups that can immediately clearly show or hide a assortment of tabs. Nevertheless, the original response to these new tab functions in the Monterey beta was weak, with lots of folks complaining about the visible physical appearance and area of the new tabs. The tab functions subsequently went by a sequence of modifications throughout the beta phase, just before settling on what appears to be their remaining sort. 


Tab controls for Safari in MacOS Monterey: the default setting is Independent.

Impression: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

Apple’s first plan was to go tabs into the principal deal with bar, and to use smaller sized tabs with rounded corners (Apple’s present-day eye-candy trend). The deal with bar also transformed color to match the history color of the present-day website site. That failed to go down much too well, so throughout the beta phase Apple brought again the common tab layout with a different tab bar — and sooner or later just determined to supply each alternatives so that folks could make up their own thoughts.

By default, Safari will use the extra common Independent model, though the new Compact model with rounded tabs in the deal with bar can be decided on from Safari’s Choices/Tabs panel. 


Independent (top rated) and Compact (previously mentioned) tabs in Safari.

Pictures: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

In addition to this cosmetic transform, Safari now also permits you to conserve a number of tabs as a Tab Team. You can shut an entire tab group to unclutter your display screen, and then open the group yet again when you have to have to simply by selecting it from the new pull-down menu that sits in the deal with bar.  


Safari’s Tab Team pull-down menu.

Impression: Apple

This is a godsend for me, as I tend to have a number of browser windows open though I’m performing, with just about every window bulging with its own assortment of tabs. The capability to tidy all people windows and tabs into groups and then immediately retrieve just about every group from a menu — or to take care of them in extra element in Safari’s Sidebar check out — will be a massive time-saver for me and lots of other Mac customers.  

It is really worth noting, while, that Tab Groups are also obtainable in the standalone version of Safari 15., which is obtainable for older variations of MacOS, going again to Catalina (2019). 

My only criticism is that producing and conserving new Tab Groups does not seem quickly intuitive. I’ve deleted entire groups of tabs accidently though figuring out how this new characteristic performs, so a small extra clarity would not go amiss there. I believe I’ve got it underneath handle now, and the capability to reduce the scattershot mess of tabs and windows on my Mac desktop would make me extra keen to install Monterey than any other MacOS update in the latest years. 


Many Mac customers felt that past year’s Significant Sur update still left the Mac playing second fiddle to the iPad, but Monterey manages to restore the Mac to its central position as your main get the job done instrument, though also embracing your cellular units as valuable collaborators.  

There is a small egg-on-encounter owing to the non-physical appearance of Universal Handle, but functions this sort of as AirPlay To Mac, the new Shortcuts app, and Safari’s improved tab controls will swiftly be adopted and applied on a every day basis. And though Significant Sur often seemed extra concerned with its candy-colored icons, Monterey may well just be the most efficiency-centered upgrade that MacOS has had in a extended time. 

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