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Three new MacOS Sonoma features even a casual Mac user will love

There are plenty of new features now available on Mac, providing productivity, accessibility, and ease of use perks. Here are my top three favorites and seven honorable mentions.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
MacBook Air 15-inch Display
June Wan/ZDNET

It's that time of year when Apple rolls out the latest software for all its devices. Earlier this year during the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, we saw glimpses of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, WatchOS 10, and MacOS Sonoma.

Also: Upgrading to MacOS Sonoma? Do these 7 things first

Now that Apple released its latest iPhone, the official versions of new software are here. The last software to be officially available is MacOS Sonoma, which is compatible with seven Mac computers.

The public beta version of MacOS Sonoma has been available for some time, but now Apple has officially released the software, so it's time to go over how I use it to upgrade my web surfing experience. 

I use a 2022 13.6-inch MacBook Air for sending emails, surfing webpages, watching YouTube, and binge-watching "90 Day Fiancé." I also text and FaceTime on my MacBook, especially when I don't feel like interrupting my show to fetch my phone on the other side of the room. 

As you can see, I'm a very casual MacBook user, but here's how MacOS Sonoma made my casual use feel more tech-savvy.

1. Desktop widgets

Screenshot of Jada Jones's MacBook Air desktop
Jada Jones/ZDNET

Widgets are finally on Mac! And not just widgets, but interactive widgets, which Apple just introduced for the first time with iOS 17. 

Widgets were always in your Mac's Notifications Center, but now you can move them to your desktop. Here, you can add a Smart Stack, display Reminders and Calendar, see your friends' shared locations, and display your favorite Photos album.

Also: Apple pro tips: The best new features in iPhone 15, iOS 17, and Apple Watch unlocked

Now that widgets are interactive, you can play and pause music, podcasts, and audiobooks, or mark a Reminder as completed, all without being redirected to an app.

I create Reminders to remember items I want to buy online or bills I need to pay. I also use it to create a packing list before going on vacation. Now, I can pay an online bill and click it off my "Bills" list from my desktop.

I find this feature most useful when used in conjunction with my iPhone via Continuity. Continuity allows seamless use between your Mac and other Apple devices, but it's the most robust with iPhone. 

You can add your iPhone widgets to your Mac desktop without installing any iPhone apps that aren't installed on your Mac. Just hold your iPhone nearby, and you're ready to rock and roll.

2. Improvements to Messages

A screenshot of new messages on MacOS Sonoma

Sending an iMessage on my MacBook is one of my favorite pastimes. But it hasn't always been as enjoyable or streamlined as it is on iPhone. But that all changes, as MacOS Sonoma brings improvements to Search, group chat replies, autocorrect, inline predictions, and Find My.

You can now combine search filters in Messages to find the message you're looking for. Instead of searching just one term, you can search "buy ketchup" combined with "from: Mom" to find exactly when she asked you to buy ketchup.

Also: Here's every iPhone model that will get Apple's iOS 17

There's nothing more annoying than the group chat blowing you up when you're trying to watch a 90-minute YouTube documentary about the history of Disneyland Paris. Well, after you unmute the group chat, you can use the new catch-up arrow to find the first unread message instead of scrolling and rereading old messages.

Additionally, you can swipe right to reply directly to someone's message. Improvements to autocorrect first appeared in iOS 17, and the same features rolled over to Mac. This means you don't have to keep typing the same "ducking" word and deleting it over and over. Autocorrected words are underlined, and you can revert them with a click.

3. A better Safari trip

Safari app on phone
SOPA Images/Contributor/Getty Images

If you use your MacBook for work and play, you can now create multiple browsing profiles to keep your search history, cookies, favorite tabs, extensions, and Tab Groups separate. 

I read my favorite online publications on my MacBook. If you're like me and frequent the same websites, you can now add them to the Dock for easier access. That means you don't have to open Safari and find what you're looking for in your many saved websites.

Also: How to update every Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, more)

If you frequently pay a bill, you can add that website to your Dock. I added the website I go to every month to pay my car note. 

Apple also added more privacy features like Locked Private Browsing, Enhanced extension control, Passkey for Apple ID on the web, and limited URL tracking.

Honorable mentions

  • You can run multiple timers on Mac. You can also label them, which is ideal for cooking while following a recipe on YouTube. 
  • Switching your AirPods from iPhone to Mac is faster. Conversation Awareness is compatible with Mac.
  • Reminders will group grocery items into sections, like dairy, produce, or meat.
  • You can share iCloud links of photos and videos on Mac.
  • You can see seasonal averages and precipitation conditions based on historical weather trends to better plan future trips.
  • You can search videos based on location, people, or activities.
  • One-time verification codes sent to Mail will autofill in Safari and automatically delete after you use them.

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Sonoma?

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