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The coolest tips and tricks for macOS Big Sur
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In Big Sur, Apple was kind enough to bring one of the coolest iOS features to macOS: The Control Center. It’s an easy way to get to some essential controls, such as display and keyboard brightness, sound volume, Wi-Fi connections, and more. Click on any of these and you’ll get additional, granular options. You can also customize the Control Center by going to System Preferences – Dock & Menu Bar.
The coolest thing about Big Sur’s Control Center is that you can drag any item from the Control Center to the menu bar on top of the screen to get one-click access to that particular option.
Apple’s messaging service for macOS, Message, has come a long way since its launch in 2012, but it’s always played second fiddle to iMessage (Apple’s messaging service on iOS) in terms of features. That may still be so, but the new Messages on macOS Big Sur make this gap narrower than ever.
Among other features, the new Messages lets users create and customize Memoji and add visual tricks like balloons and confetti. Inline replies are a particularly neat feature, giving users the ability to create messaging threads. Our favorite new feature is the ability to pin favorite chats to the top of the Messages list. Another thing you can do is @ someone’s name to directly answer their message.
Firing up a Mac always meant hearing the legendary, slightly dissonant startup sound — up until Apple, for some reason, decided to remove the feature.
But in macOS Big Sur, the startup chime is back to warm our hearts on every bootup. If you don’t like it, you can turn it off by going to System Preferences – Sound – Play sound on startup.
You won’t be able to find this feature just yet; it’s coming later this year, according to Apple. But it is pretty important: When it launches, the Mac App Store will have a new section for each app, explaining in detail how the app handles your privacy. This includes the type of data that’s used to track you, data that’s linked to you, and how this information is shared with third parties.
With every new macOS launch, Apple keeps improving Safari, but it somehow stays forgotten next to Google’s Chrome. Still, Safari is getting better, and in some ways, it’s the best browser out there.
Besides being faster than ever before (Apple claims), especially if you have a new Mac with Apple’s M1 processor, Safari’s got a ton of improvements, including a customizable start page and redesigned tabs.
New Safari also has built-in translation and enhanced search, letting you search for a particular tab. That’s very handy if you, like me, have a zillion tabs open at all times.
Finally, adding to the privacy features mentioned above, Safari now also comes with a Privacy Report, giving you an overview of trackers which were prevented from profiling you. The company also added a tool that monitors breached passwords and pings you when one of your saved passwords may have been compromised.
Make it your own
Visually, new versions of macOS are never radical departures from the last version. But Apple always adds a couple of new tricks you can do to personalize your desktop.
As is customary, Big Sur comes with new wallpapers, featuring the beautiful part of the California coast the new OS is named after. Widgets, which mimic the widgets that debuted on iOS 14, are another nice way of customizing your desktop. Sadly, you cannot place them anywhere your want; they’re confined to the Notification Center that slides from the right. You can, however, change the way individual widgets are positioned; just click on the Edit Widgets option, positioned at the bottom of the Notification Center.
Somewhat hidden in the System Preferences – General tab, you can now change the Accent color to multicolor (click the leftmost button), which lets each app display a different accent color. Another new option in the General tab is the ability to allow or disable wallpaper tinting in windows. This will, essentially, make Dark Mode slightly darker, and many Dark Mode fans will appreciate that.