Apple recently announced macOS 11 (macOS 10.16) called Big Sur. The new update for the Mac doesn’t seem to bring a lot of stuff at first glance. However, we took a deep dive into macOS Big Sur and found out a bunch of amazing new changes and features in the update. So, here are 12 cool macOS Big Sur features and changes.
macOS Big Sur Features and Changes
1. Redesigned Control Center
The control centre in macOS Big Sur has been redesigned. It now has bigger toggles for controlling various system settings. It kind of looks like an iOS reimagination of macOS’ control centre, but I like it. You get easy access to all the most important settings for your Mac. Moreover, if you access something frequently, like the WiFi setting, you can drag and drop it to your menu bar.
You can also pick things visible in the control centre by heading to ‘System Preferences -> Dock & Menu Bar’. You can check out our article on how to customise Control Center in macOS Big Sur to get a step by step tutorial.
2. New Notification Center
The Notification Center has also been redesigned. It now shows both notifications and widgets in the same pane, and it feels more integrated as well. There are no more sliding panels anymore. Instead, notifications and widgets slide over on top of your desktop making it feel more natural.
macOS Big Sur also groups notifications, similar to iOS. You can click the cross button over a group of notifications to clear them all out if you want.
Also, thanks to redesigned widgets, the Notification Center looks more attractive. You can choose from a variety of sizes for your widgets and place them the way you want right there. It’s pretty nice.
3. Safari Improvements and Changes
While a lot of you might be using Chrome, macOS Big Sur makes a solid case for switching over to Safari. The native web browser now gets a ton of new features and improvements. You can now customise the Safari start page completely if you want. What’s more, you can hover over tabs to see previews, and Safari also offers on-page translations.
macOS Big Sur also has a dedicated extensions store in the App Store to make it easier to find new Safari extensions. Plus, the browser securely monitors your passwords and lets you know if you need to change any of them or if you are using the same password across multiple websites.
4. iMessage Improvements
The Mac iMessage app was very much behind in terms of features. In fact, it was so shabby I barely ever used iMessage on my Mac. With Big Sur, the macOS iMessage has caught on. You now get support for Memoji stickers in iMessage, and you can even use the screen and message effects that have been available on iPhone for so long. You should check out our article on how to use iMessage effects in macOS Big Sur and how to send Memoji stickers in macOS Big Sur to know more.
Along with that, iMessage gets all the handy improvements brought by iOS 14. This means you get conversation pinning, in line replies, mentions, and all that good stuff.
5. Battery Improvements
Apple brought optimised charging for the iPhone to ensure a longer battery life of your phone. With macOS Big Sur, the feature has made its way to the Mac as well. Now, your Mac will learn from your daily charging habits and optimise its charging to extend its battery life. This is great if you want to make sure your Mac lasts long before you need a battery replacement from Apple.
macOS Big Sur also adds a detailed graph for your battery usage. This is similar to the battery menu in iOS and will give you a good idea of how you’re using your Mac. Along with that, you can also see which apps are using the most battery.
6. Improvements to the Photos App
The macOS Photos app isn’t something I use often. However, with this update, I’m tempted to use it a lot more. Big Sur brings handy features to the Photos app on Mac. You now get a video editor built in the app, so you can make quick edits to your videos without needing a pro level app like Final Cut Pro for simple editing tasks. The app also brings a new caption feature for photos and videos. You can use this to add more information to your photos and videos.
The reminders app in macOS Big Sur has also gone through a list of changes. For one, you can now assign reminders to people. This is amazing if you share to-do lists with other people. You can quickly assign tasks to people and they can check it off once they are done with it.
List names can now have emojis on them, which is not that big a deal, but it’s a fun new change. Plus, Reminders will now give you smart suggestions for dates and locations when you’re creating a new reminder in the app.
8. Voice Memos
I use the voice memos app a lot. On my iPhone and on my Mac, this is one native app that I am constantly using. And now, it is even better. Voice Memos now support folders, which means you can easily organise your recordings and find them faster when you are looking for them. You can also mark recordings as favourites if you like.
The app now also brings support for smart folders. With this, your Apple Watch recordings will automatically be sorted into a dedicated folder so you don’t have to worry about hunting for them in your long list of reminders. Lastly, and this is an awesome feature, Voice Memos can now reduce background noise and reverb with just a click. That means your recordings will sound even better with macOS Big Sur.
9. Background Updates
Anyone who has used a Mac for a few years will know that installing new OS updates can be a pain. Your system goes to that black screen with the Apple logo and restarts a bunch of times. The whole process can take up to an hour (sometimes more) and that can be very annoying. However, with macOS 11, you will be able to install updates in the background. macOS will prepare files for installation and do a lot of the heavy lifting in the background before it shuts the system down for the update. This means you will have to wait a smaller amount of time to finish installing the latest software on your Mac.
As someone who installs almost every beta version of macOS, this is a great feature for me.
macOS’ spotlight is awesome. It can find your files, look up contacts, give you definitions, and so much more. Plus it supports natural language processing so you can type in normal sentences instead of well-framed commands. With macOS 11, Spotlight is faster than ever before. However, more importantly, it now supports Quick Look.
That means you can select a file from the spotlight search results and press space bar to get a quick look at it before opening it. Before this, you had to reveal the file in the Finder app and then perform a quick look, but you can now skip that whole part.
11. Privacy Information on the App Store
This year, Apple is taking a stronger stance for user privacy. The company is now adding privacy information to app listings on the App Store. This means you will be able to see the kind of things an app tracks about you before you even install it. That’s really great.
12. New System Sounds
System sounds have also gotten a complete revamp. Gone are the old sounds that were long and sometimes annoying (such as the screenshot sound). These new sounds are crisper and more pleasing to your auditory senses. There are new sounds for screenshots, putting stuff in the trashcan, and even clearing the trashcan. Almost all system sounds have been revamped this year and they sound amazing.
Check out All the New macOS 11 Big Sur Features
macOS Big Sur doesn’t bring many marquee features, but it brings a lot of nifty improvements to the operating system a lot of us know and love. There are fresh icons, new dock layouts, fresh new wallpapers, and so much more in macOS Big Sur. This list is just the best, coolest macOS 11 features I found. I will be updating this when I come across new features so keep checking back. Meanwhile, have you installed the developer beta for macOS 11 Big Sur? Let me know in the comments.