macOS Monterey: 40 Tips, Tricks, and Features You Might Have Missed

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Apple released macOS Monterey to the public in the fall, and the new desktop OS brings a whole slew of useful new features and changes to apps like Safari, Maps, FaceTime, Notes, Photos, Messages, and more.

Beyond the headline features, Apple has also made numerous tweaks and changes to macOS that aim to make the time you spend using your Mac‌ more efficient, more functional, and more enjoyable. To that end, we’ve pulled out 40 additions and improvements to Monterey, some of which may have gone under your radar, and we’ve highlighted 20 of them in the video up above. Keep reading to refresh your memory or perhaps learn something new.

1. Click to Save Photos in Messages
There’s a good chance you’ll want to save the photos you receive in the Messages app to your ‌Photos‌ library, and ‌macOS Monterey‌ makes this easier than ever.

messages
You no longer have to right-click or open the image (or stack of images) to save it. Simply click the Save to Photos button to the right of the image instead.

2. Change Mouse Pointer Color
Apple has made it possible to change the color of the mouse pointer from the standard white outline and black fill, to pretty much any color combination you want.

mouse prefs


To do so, go to System Preferences -> Accessibility, then click Display (under “Vision”) in the left column. Click the Pointer tab in the window of options, and you’ll find Pointer outline color and Pointer fill color settings. Click the color swatch to choose a custom color from the palette that appears. You can always click Reset to revert to the default colors.

3. Manage APFS Snapshots in Disk Utility

In the macOS Disk Utility app, you now have access to individual APFS drive snapshots. An APFS snapshot is a read-only copy of its parent APFS volume, taken at a particular moment in time, and you can maintain these snapshots and copy items from them, provided you know what you’re doing (see Disk Utility’s Help menu for more).

disk utility


To view them as a list, simply select a volume and choose View -> Show APFS Snapshots from the menu bar. The fixed order list shows you the name, creation date, and cumulative size of each snapshot, while the most recent snapshot has a partition symbol beside its “Tidemark.” Select a snapshot from the list and you can right-click or use the ellipsis button at the bottom left corner of the list to mount the snapshot, rename it, and delete it.

4. Test Network Quality

It’s now possible to measure the quality of your Mac’s internet connection directly from within macOS. Simply open a Terminal window and type networkQuality into the command prompt.

terminal


After a short while, you’ll have an upload/download measurement, along with the number of “flows” (test packets) used for the responsiveness (network round trips) test. The upload/download capacity is roughly the same result metric you get from online internet speed tools like Speedtest by Ookla, although it tests upload and download concurrently rather than sequentially.

5. Protect Mail Activity

In the Mail app, a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about you. It does this by preventing senders from knowing when you open their email, and masks your IP address so that it can’t be linked to your other online activity or used to determine your location.

mail


To turn on the feature in Mail, select Mail -> Preferences… in the menu bar, click the Privacy tab, and then check the box next to Protect Mail Activity. If you leave it disabled, you can still independently opt to Hide IP address and Block All Remote Content.

6. AirPlay to Mac

In ‌macOS Monterey‌, you can ‌AirPlay‌ content from an iPhone or iPad straight to your Mac, or even from one Mac to another Mac. Start playing a song/podcast or video on your ‌‌iPhone‌‌ or ‌‌iPad‌‌, tap the ‌AirPlay‌ icon in the app’s media playback interface, and then select your Mac from the list of ‌AirPlay‌ devices.

music


If it’s music or a podcast, the audio should start playing through your Mac’s speakers or any external speakers connected to your Mac, and you can control playback on your Mac by opening the Control Center. Video should automatically play on your Mac’s display in fullscreen mode, and you can control playback directly on your Mac by moving the mouse and selecting the onscreen playback controls.

Note that ‌AirPlay‌ only works on MacBook Air 2018 and later, MacBook Pro 2018 and later, iMac 2019 and later, M1 Mac mini, ‌iMac‌ Pro, and Mac Pro 2019.

7. Hello Screensaver
macOS 12 includes two new screen savers worth checking out. “Hello” is a homage to the original Macintosh that writes the iconic word on the screen in joined-up handwriting, while “Monterey” offers simpler slow transitions through hills and valleys in different shades of pink, purple, and blue.

screensaver


The Hello screen saver cycles through various colors, and there are several themes to choose from including Soft Tones, Spectrum, and Minimal. Soft Tones uses the pastel colors introduced with the new iMacs and matching colored text, while Spectrum uses more saturated shades with lighter text. Minimal shows the “Hello” wording in black, white, and gray.

By default, the screen saver will display “Hello” in multiple languages, but you can force it to use only your native language by toggling off Show ‘hello’ in all languages in the Screen Saver Options. A match system appearance toggle is also available for use to match light and dark mode preferences.

8. Convert Image Quick Action
Convert Image is a new pre-installed Quick Action in Finder that can quickly convert an image file from one format (JPG, HEIC and PNG) to another. It also lets you change the file size (small, medium, large, or actual size) and lets you choose whether to keep the file’s metadata in the converted image.

finder


To use the Convert Image Quick Action, right-click (or Ctrl-click) an image file and then select Quick Actions -> Convert Image. Choose your settings in the dialog that appears, then hit Convert. You’ll also see the Quick Action in the Finder preview pane when viewing images.

9. Create a Safari Tab Group

Tab Groups in Safari aim to make organizing and preserving your open browser tabs more manageable without having to have those tabs active. They offer a way to easily save and manage related tabs, such as those used when planning trips or shopping, or groups can be used to store the tabs you visit daily.

safari


To create a new Tab Group, click the Show Sidebar icon next to the traffic lights and then select New Tab Group. (Alternately, click the down arrow next to the Show Sidebar icon and select either New Empty Tab Group or New Tab Group With X Tabs, “X” being the number of tabs currently open. Any Tab Groups you create are listed in the sidebar for easy switching.

10. Change QuickTime Playback Speed

In macOS, you can now adjust the playback speed of video in Apple’s native QuickTime Player.

QuickTime


Simply click the chevrons in the bottom-right corner of the media controls overlay and select your preferred speed from 0.5x to 2.0x.

11. Compact Safari Tab Bar

In early beta versions of macOS, Apple introduced a default compact and unified Safari design that did away with the dedicated URL and search interface, instead letting any individual tab be used for navigation input. The design caused an outcry from many users, which led Apple to walk back the change and reinstate the original design in which the URL/search bar sits at the top of the Safari window, with your tabs arranged below it.

safari


However, if you liked the Compact tab bar design, you can find it as an option in Safari -> Preferences…. Click the Tabs tab and select Tab Layout: Compact to turn on the original compact tab bar that merged everything together.

12. Erase Contents and Settings

Following in the footsteps of the ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌, Apple silicon Macs and Intel Macs with a T2 security chip (2017-2020 models) now have an “Erase All Content and Settings” option available in ‌macOS Monterey‌.

sys prefs


Not only does this effectively erase all user data and user-installed apps from your Mac without reinstalling macOS, it also signs out your Apple ID, removes your Touch ID fingerprints, purchases, and all Apple Wallet items, and turns off Find My and Activation Lock, making it far easier to restore your Mac to like-new factory settings.

Click the Apple () symbol in the menu bar and select System Preferences…. When the preferences pane appears, select System Preferences -> Erase All Content and Settings from the menu bar, and then follow the onscreen instructions provided by the Erase Assistant.

13. Low Power Mode
In ‌macOS Monterey‌, Low Power Mode reduces the system clock speed and the display brightness of your Mac in order to extend battery life. So if you’re doing less intensive tasks like watching videos or browsing the web, you can turn it on to eke even more out of your Mac’s battery.

battery


Open System Preferences and click the Battery pane. Then, in the sidebar, select Battery, and check the box next to Low power mode.

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