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Revealing Five ‘Hidden’ Features of macOS High Sierra

The beautiful default wallpaper of High Sierra

Working with macOS High Sierra for the past three weeks has made it obvious to me that there are a lot of somewhat hidden features that didn’t necessarily make it onto the main feature list slides at WWDC 2017. To whet your appetite for the upcoming upgrade to macOS 10.13 High Sierra, here’s a quick look at five features that can make your Mac experience more productive…and in some cases, more fun!

Mail Full-Screen Split View
If there’s one thing that can drive a MacBook user bonkers, it’s opening a reply window in Mail, then needing to go back to the original email, then back to the reply… There’s no shortcut to get to the other open Mail windows and they can be hidden quite easily.

Full-Screen Split View of macOS High Sierra Mail
(Full-Screen Split View of macOS High Sierra Mail)

High Sierra has a nice feature in Mail that takes care of that issue for you, called Full-Screen Split View (see screenshot above). As with Sierra, you can set up Split View on the Mac by clicking and holding the green “full screen” button in the upper left corner of any open window, but now when you click the reply button, the reply window automatically appears in the other side of Split View.

Support for External Graphics Cards with Metal 2
Metal 2 is Apple’s new graphics API that almost 10x faster in some sorts of throughput than the first Metal, so all graphics should be smoother and faster. But Metal 2 also brings with support for external graphics cards through Thunderbolt 3-equipped chassis. That means that any Mac with Thunderbolt 3 and High Sierra will be able to take advantage of many more graphics cards. This opens the door for Macs also being able to take advantage of virtual reality apps and even create them.

iCloud Family Sharing will include sharing of iCloud Drive space
(iCloud Family Sharing will include sharing of iCloud Drive space)

iCloud Family Sharing of Drive Space
iCloud family sharing is already quite easy to set up in macOS Sierra, but High Sierra brings one more thing that the family can share — space! If you have more than 200GB of iCloud storage, it can now be shared with the entire family. That 2TB of iCloud Drive space for $9.99 per month is starting to look very attractive.

Edit Live Photos, Add Effects, and Capture Live Photos in FaceTime
Live Photos are popular with iOS users, but with macOS Sierra Mac users can get into the fun as well. Those Live Photos that are captured with your iPhone or iPad can edited in the macOS Photos app to get just the right length and content, and effects can also be added. The effects include looping, which turns your Live Photo into a GIF-like image that repeats over and over; Bounce, which adds a boomerang type effect (think of having a person jump into a swimming pool and then back out to dry land again); and Long Exposure, which adds blur effects and extends water and light trails to mimic a long exposure photo.

What about capturing Live Photos with a Mac? You’ll be able to do that with the FaceTime app with a click on the new camera button, and the captured Live Photos are saved to the Photos library.

Changes to Siri
We discussed some of the changes to Siri in the initial overview of macOS High Sierra, but there are also some changes other than it just having a more natural sounding voice. First, Siri can act as a DJ for you, so asking questions like “Play me some party music” or “Play me some relaxing music” results in Siri picking appropriate music for you to listen to.

One other change? You’ll be able to type to Siri instead of using a microphone and voice input. That’s actually quite useful if you have a Mac with no built-in microphone, such as a Mac mini.

Those are just a few of the fun things we’ve run into while beta testing macOS High Sierra. By the way, any day now you should be able to publicly beta test macOS High Sierra and iOS 11. If you have a non-production device that you can devote to beta testing, then consider beta testing the new operating systems. You can sign up in minutes at this web page. Remember, it’s best to NOT run beta software on devices that you depend on for work or pleasure.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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  • Apple Mail.APP is bug ridden in Sierra. I have 1 major bug that is costing me 5 hours a day in productivity that I am now looking for a replacement for MAIL.APP now. Is the *BUG* of not show the number of attachments in each email fixed in High Sierra ? Apple is sure not testing MAIL.APP out very well. I have at least 5 other bugs that are semi livable in MAIL. But the top one is showing the number of attachments.

    • I have zero problems with Apple Mail, and I use it all day every day with both my work and personal email accounts. I can see the number of attachments in my email. If you’re having problems, why don’t you call AppleCare?

  • Would like to know about NTFS (mount, read, write) to Wintel drives on Wintel networks…

  • If sharing storage is dependent on macOS or iOS version, does that make the shared storage inaccessible to older devices? Do they then “see” only the unshared storage, I wonder?

  • “There’s no shortcut to get to the other open Mail windows”

    Sure, there is.

    Command-Tab is the standard application switcher. But Command-Tilde (the key above the tab) switches from one window to another in the same app.

    • Well, thanks for THAT handy tip! I didn’t know it, and it works swell on El Capitan.

      • Yeah, it’s been that way since a few decades. Just how command tab and command shift tab move forward and backward through the open applications command on the tilde or backtick (right above the tab) moves you through your open windows of the application that is frontmost.

        Likewise, command shift tilde or backtack will move you backwards through the open windows for your current application.

        It’s been like this since forever.

        If you come to the Mac from Windows, the big difference here is that on Windows, you toggle through all windows, while on the Mac, you only toggle through the windows of the app that you are currently using.

        All in all, in my experience, this is a super effective technique for managing your windows among your open applications.


  • > iCloud Family Sharing of Drive Space

    This is something they should have done ages ago, tied in with the Family Sharing setup. (I also agree with others that backup drive space should be tied to the number of Apple devices you purchase, not your account.)

    • Ralph:
      I had no idea what ICLOUD was when I got Seirra. About a year into running it I got an alert message from Apple saying my ICLOUD was filled and did I want to increase it. I was shocked as I never used the ICLOUD. AFter about a half day banging my head against the wall, I finally found that somehow about 8 folders worth of JPGS ended up on ICLOUD. It took me 1 day to bring everything back and delete my ICLOUD account. I am an unhappy APPLE users as a result. I don’t think I would have been surprised if APPLE had told me what it was doing, and I found out by accident and that is not a good way of having a customer relationship.

  • I guess the reply in split view feature is cool, but already I can minimize a reply in full screen mode and see the original message. Of course, I can also just scroll down since the previous message is quoted right below the cursor.