The latest operating system for Macs, macOS Sonoma, is available now. Most Mac experts seem to be focused on the introduction of widgets, better screensavers, and much improved support for games, but there are some really useful productivity-boosting tools for enterprise pros packed inside.
Here’s some to get you started:
Command-Space gains new powers
The most powerful keyboard combination on the Mac gets even more invincible in Sonoma. The operating system has improved its support for quick actions from within Spotlight. To do so, it uses machine intelligence in the form of data detectors. This means that when you type phone numbers, email addresses, dates, or times into the search bar, you’ll be offered quick actions, such as calling the number, sending an email, creating contacts or calendar events.
Lockdown Mode — you need it, but don’t want it
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need Lockdown Mode. In this imperfect world, characterized by state-sponsored surveillance, we do. Apple has improved this protection with new network security protections designed to protect against sophisticated attacks. You can also lock down your Apple Watch, which makes sense when you think about it. Sure, you need to be a high-value target, but as these attacks proliferate and get cheaper to run, it’s good to know Lockdown Mode is there.
Notes continues to improve
PDF support in Notes means you can use those spaces as highly interactive project management collections, creating links between notes to connect ideas and content. With a new files and folder structure, Notes is becoming a deep way to handle a multitude of content for numerous tasks. You’ve been able to lock these notes for some time, so the space is becoming seriously useful as a collaborative environment.
Additional Notes improvements include block quote formatting, monostyled text, and the ability to create a Pages document from directly within your Note.
The Mac’s PDF handling gets better every year
PDF improvements aren’t just held inside Notes. Sonoma brings intelligent form detection, which lets you more easily work with PDF forms across your system. Enhanced AutoFill will let you fill in those forms more swiftly thanks to improved data detectors and on-device language models.
On device collaboration improved with Freeform
Freeform is a fantastic environment for project management and collaboration. Available across every Apple device and frankly a good candidate for wider cross-platform support, Freeform lets teams work together visually. What’s new? Quite a lot, among other things you get much better diagramming and flowchart creation tools and can share content into your Freeform boards from other apps using the Share menu.
People you are working with can also follow you more easily as you move around the board. (And don’t neglect the improved support for 3D objects in the environment, what could this be for?)
Password sharing – not just for families
It’s useful to be able to share sets of passwords within a group. Supported by iCloud Keychain, the feature is ostensibly designed for families, but Apple also introduced APIs that let IT admins deploy passwords across their fleets remotely. An associated improvement: Mail will now automatically paste one-time verification codes in Safari, so you can stay in the browser to access enterprise services using 2FA. You can also make use of a passkey when signing in with your Apple ID on the web.
Quite rightly, there are a host of accessibility improvements inside macOS Sonoma. Two improvements that should help at work include much-improved AI-powered keyboard autocorrect for better accuracy, including the capacity to write entire sentences. (You can complete what you are typing with one press of the Space bar.)
Dictation gets better with much improved speech recognition and the ability to “move fluidly” between voice and typing. The keyboard also underlines corrections and suggestions, so they’re easier to see and change.
Safari is becoming more flexible
Safari Profiles will grow on you. They enable you to keep separate profiles for work and home life, so you can stay focused in the office. Private Browsing has become, well, a lot more private — the windows lock when you’re not using them to keep them secure, and the browser has become better at blocking web trackers. And as web apps become more powerful, Safari users can now add any website to the Dock just like an app, complete with a toolbar and notifications; that’s useful for access to browser-based enterprise services.
Hybrid work is here. I think almost everyone finds themself involved in a video meeting at least once a week. Apple has been putting energy into improving video conferencing on Macs since COVID-19 first struck, and this release remains consistent.
In Sonoma, Presenter Overlay displays the user in front of content they are sharing, and you get to share a screen, an app, or multiple apps while within a call from the window you are in using the new screen sharing picker. The majority of these features, including the capacity to zoom in and pan out with your video camera, work in any of the videoconferencing apps you use.
You also get better control over the amount of background blur, which helps improve your image. If using Continuity Camera, which supports use of your iPhone camera as a webcam, Center Stage now keeps you centered in the camera frame.
Reducing those lost Apple ID nightmares
I’ve heard that millions of people lose access to their Apple ID each year. I don’t know if that’s precisely true, but Apple does seem to have made managing these a lot easier in Sonoma. You no longer need to remember your exact Apple ID email address when signing in with an Apple ID and password and can instead use any email address or phone number on file in your account. That doesn’t help if you don’t know your password (which you should), but will hopefully improve the experience for a lot of people. As noted above, you can also use a passkey when signing in with your Apple ID on the web.
A little cry of joy
Rejoice as those one-time verification codes should in future be automatically deleted from Messages after use.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.