In Apple’s macOS High Sierra, the most noteworthy features are behind the scenes. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new features to play with in High Sierra. I’ll share some of my favorite features below.
Let’s first talk about the invisible features. Apple’s invisible, under-the-hood changes modernize the Mac. The new APFS file system significantly improves how data is stored on your disk. It replaces the HFS+ file system, which dates from the previous century. You’ll notice the switch to APFS when you look up the size of a selected folder or duplicate a large file because the operation should run much more quickly. APFS also provides better FileVault encryption and reduces the chance of file corruption.
Also new is HEVC. This is one of my favorite invisible features. Why? Saves space. HEVC is a new video compression standard that will let videos stream better and take up less space on your drive. This is great for videos. But what about photos? Apple is introducing HEIF, an image format that boasts significantly better compression to keep photos from overwhelming your drive. HEVC and HEIF have other advantages too, but they’re so embedded into High Sierra (and iOS 11) that all you’ll notice is more space. Are these new formats compatible with other devices and online tools? Yes, when you drag images and videos out of Photos, they’ll come out in familiar formats suitable for sharing with other devices and online apps. All you’ll notice is your photos will start taking up less space. As a side note, the new format does not convert your old photos and videos, it only applies to new photos and videos.
What else is new in Photos? The sidebar on the left side of the window is always-on so it’s now easier to browse your photos. Photo editing is also more streamlined, with the Edit screen now separated into three tabs: Adjust, Filters, and Crop.
You can now edit Live Photos! Look at the bottom of the Adjust tab for controls for picking any frame as the static “key” frame, trimming the video, and applying special effects. Apple also added new effects. The most interesting effect blurs the Live Photo by turning the 3-second mini-movie into a single long exposure.
Those who are into tweaking photos by hand should check out the new Curves and Selective Color options on the Adjust tab. Or, if you’d prefer that your Mac do the heavy lifting, try the new filters on the Filters tab.
￼Faces now syncs with iCloud. Now when you train Photos to recognize faces, these new albums can be found on all your other devices too!
Lastly, Apple added the ability to edit your photos in third party apps such as Photoshop while keeping the photos in the Photos App. In the past, once you edited the photos in a third party app, Photos would not recognize the format.
Safari has a few new features. Safari now let’s you specify Web sites that should always open in Safari’s clutter-reducing Reader View, block some ads and auto-play videos, let you set the zoom level on a per-site basis, and more. You’ll find the settings for these new features in Safari Preferences. If you want to tweak these options for the current Web page, choose Safari > Settings for This Website to open a popover with the necessary controls.
￼Safari now offers Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP), which limits advertisers’ cross-site tracking of where you’ve been online.
In Notes you can now add basic tables and the ability to pin your note which puts the selected note at the top of its list rather than listing it by order last edited.
Apple Mail messages got some love behind the scenes. The message storage takes 35% less space.
More obvious is how Mail revamped its behavior in full-screen view. Instead of the message-composition area overlapping most of the Mail window, the screen splits, and your new message appears at the right. This layout simplifies viewing an older message while drafting a new one.
A fun new FaceTime option is taking a Live Photo of your call. It’s a perfect way to record mini-movies of far-away relatives. If the person you’re chatting with allows Live Photos in FaceTime’s preferences, hover over the FaceTime window to see and then click the round Shutter button.
New in High Sierra, you can enter an airline flight number in Spotlight (click on the magnifying glass in the menu in the upper right hand corner of your display) to see oodles of flight-related info.
High Sierra won’t radically change how you use your Mac, but the features Apple has added will make the experience better for some apps. On top of that, you’ll save space in the future and your Mac will perform better. Not a bad upgrade! Look for a tutorial on macOS High Sierra this fall!