macOS 12 Monterey: New features, compatibility, release date
macOS 12 Monterey received its first preview during the WWDC21 keynote. The Mac software focuses on productive features, with a new Shortcuts app, Universal Control, AirPlay to Mac, Safari updates, and more. Here’s everything about Apple’s latest macOS update.
Table of contents
- New features in macOS 12 Monterey
- Redesigned Safari
- macOS 12.1 features
- macOS 12.2 features
- macOS 12.3 features
- macOS 12.4 features
- macOS 12.5 features
- macOS 12 Monterey exclusive features to the M1 Macs
- macOS 12 Monterey device compatibility
- Hands-on with macOS 12 Monterey
- Release date: When will macOS 12 Monterey come out?
New features in macOS 12 Monterey
With the release of the macOS 11 Big Sur in 2020, Apple gave the Mac software a nice redesign. With a neo-skeuomorphic UI, macOS Big Sur introduced a new Control Center and Notification Center, revamped Safari and iMessage apps, and more.
Now, with macOS 12 Monterey, Apple is refining the Big Sur experience with a redesigned Safari, Universal Control feature, AirPlay to Mac, and much more.
macOS 12 Monterey brings Universal Control, which allows the user to easily use an iPad with a Mac, as the keyboard and mouse seamlessly move over to each device.
It’s possible, for example, to drag a Procreate logo on the iPad to a Final Cut project on the Mac. It uses Bluetooth beaconing, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, and the iPad’s touchpad support to allow the devices to know they’re closer to one another.
Shortcuts app on macOS 12 Monterey
Apple called Shortcuts the future of automation on Mac, and the first steps in Monterey are part of a multi-year transition. Automator will continue to be supported in this release and Automator workflows can be imported into Shortcuts.
The app on the Mac looks similar to Shortcuts on the iPad. You can build new shortcuts, access existing shortcuts, and more. The Shortcuts app on the Mac also integrates with Spotlight, appears in Finder, supports multitasking, and increases with the Menu bar.
FaceTime and SharePlay
FaceTime is receiving a lot of love from Apple with macOS 12 Monterey. The video call app will feature, for example, Spatial Audio. With this function, Apple says it creates a “sound field that helps conversations flow as easily as they do face to face.”
Another function available is Portrait mode in calls. With this on, you can blur your background and put the focus on yourself. It works exactly as it does on the iPhone camera.
With Voice Isolation mode it isolates your voice from all the other noises and with Wide Spectrum mode, you can hear anything that’s happening in your friend’s surroundings.
FaceTime is also receiving the Grid view feature and with a FaceTime link, you can invite friends into a FaceTime call with a web link on Windows and Android devices.
With SharePlay, here’s everything you can do:
- Watch together: Bring TV shows and movies to your FaceTime call
- Listen together: Share music with friends
- Shared music queue: When listening together, anyone in the call can add songs to the shared queue
- Share your screen: Bring web pages, app, and more into your conversation
- Synced playback: Pause, rewind, fast-forward, or jump to a different scene while in perfect sync with everyone else
- Smart volume: Dynamically responsive volume controls automatically adjust audio so you can hear your friends even during a loud scene or climactic chorus
- Multiple device support: Connect over FaceTime on the iPhone while watching video on the Apple TV or listening to music on the HomePod
- Connect through audio, video, and text: Access the group’s Message thread right from the FaceTime controls and choose the mode of communication that matches the moment
AirPlay to Mac
AirPlay to Mac lets your Mac be an AirPlay destination, so you can quickly play content from your iPhone on your Mac’s display.
For the first time, the Mac can be used as a speaker for multiform audio, just as the HomePod can. AirPlay works both wirelessly and wired using USB. A wired connection is useful when you want to ensure that there’s no latency or you don’t have access to Wi-Fi.
Safari also received a major redesign with macOS 12 Monterey. Here are some of the functions coming to the new Safari:
Streamlined tab bar: The streamlined tab bar takes up less room on the page and adjusts to match the colors of each site, extending your web page to the edge of the window.
Integrated Smart Search field: Search from your active tab with the integrated Smart Search field. Click the site’s name to expand and reveal the page’s full address or type your search right into the name field.
Tab groups: Intelligent Tracking Prevention now also prevents trackers from profiling you using your IP address.
Redesigned tabs: Tabs have a rounder and more defined appearance, making them easier to work with. Tabs fluidly adapt as you add more, shrinking or stretching to fit the page.
Redesigned sidebar: Manage your tab groups, bookmarks, Reading List, and Shared with You links in the redesigned sidebar.
iCloud Private Relay: iCloud Private Relay is a service that lets you connect to virtually any network and browse with Safari in an even more secure and private way. It ensures that the traffic leaving your device is encrypted so no one can intercept and read it.
Safari’s new design caused a lot of controversies, which Apple slowly addressed, although it will remain with a new UI.
macOS 12.1 features
Here’s everything new with macOS 12.1:
- SharePlay is a new way to share synchronized experiences in FaceTime with content from the Apple TV app, Apple Music, and other supported apps
- Shared controls give everyone the ability to pause, play, rewind or fast forward
- Smart volume automatically lowers the audio of a movie, TV show, or song when you or your friends speak
- Screen sharing lets everyone on a FaceTime call look at photos, browse the web, or help each other out
Apple Music Voice Plan
- Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
- Just Ask Siri suggests music based on your listening history and likes or dislikes
- Play it Again lets you access a list of your recently played music
- Memories has been redesigned with a new interactive interface, new animation and transition styles, and multiple image collages
- New Memory types include additional international holidays, child-focused memories, trends over time, and improved pet memories
- Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity
- Safety warnings contain helpful resources for children when they receive photos that contain nudity
Siri and Search
- Expanded guidance in Siri, Spotlight, and Safari Search to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations
- Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death
- Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place
This release also includes the following enhancements for your Mac:
- Hide My Email is available in the Mail app for iCloud+ subscribers to create unique, random email addresses
- Stocks allow you to view the currency for a ticker and see year-to-date performance when viewing charts
- Reminders and Notes now allow you to delete or rename tags
macOS 12.2 features
Different from macOS 12.1, macOS 12.2 didn’t bring lots of new features. This software update includes a security fix for a serious Safari flaw along with a few other improvements and fixes.
The Safari exploit can leak users’ browsing history as well as Google account IDs. Another fix with macOS 12.2 improves scrolling in Safari with ProMotion on the new MacBook Pro. There’s also a new, native Apple Music app.
macOS 12.3 features
macOS 12.3 finally brings the long-awaited Universal Control feature. Here’s everything new with this update:
- Universal Control;
- 40+ fresh emoji;
- New, non-binary Siri American voice;
- Dynamic head tracking for Spatial Audio;
- Add notes to saved passwords in Safari;
- Support for the PS5 DualSense adaptive trigger;
- ScreenCaptureKit framework for “high-performance screen recording.”
macOS 12.4 features
macOS 12.4 brings small improvements compared to the previous versions of the operating system:
- Apple Podcasts includes a new setting to limit episodes stored on your Mac and automatically delete older ones
- Support for Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5, available as a separate update, refines camera tuning, including improved noise reduction, contrast, and framing.
macOS 12.5 features
macOS Monterey 12.5 includes enhancements, bug fixes, and security updates.
- The TV app adds the option to restart a live sports game already in progress and pause, rewind, or fast-forward
- Fixes an issue in Safari where a tab may revert back to a previous page
macOS 12.5 is likely the latest macOS 12 Monterey update before Apple releases macOS 13 Ventura.
macOS 12 Monterey exclusive features to the M1 Macs
With macOS 12 Monterey, Apple is focusing on a bunch of features only for the Mac with its own silicon. here’s everything exclusive to the M1 Mac mini, M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and 24-inch iMac:
Portrait Mode on FaceTime: Only M1 Macs on macOS Monterey will be able to blur the background of a video call using FaceTime.
Maps: Interactive globe and detailed new city experience will only be available in the M1 Macs running macOS Monterey. With these two features, users will be able to interact with a 3D globe and explore cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and London with detail for elevation, roads, trees, buildings, landmarks, and more.
Object Capture: With macOS Monterey, users will be able to turn a series of 2D images into a photo-realistic 3D object that’s optimized for AR in just minutes using the power of Mac.
Siri: Neural text-to-speech voice in more languages is only available to the M1 Macs. With macOS Monterey, this feature will be available in more languages: Swedish (Sweden), Danish (Denmark), Norwegian (Norway), and Finnish (Finland).
On-device dictation: Keyboard dictation helps protect the user’s privacy by performing all processing completely offline. With macOS Monterey, users can dictate texts of any length without a timeout.
Previously, the Live Text in Photos feature, which gives users the ability to interact with text in photos, such as copy and paste, lookup, and translate, was only available for M1 Macs, but then Apple made it available to Intel Macs as well.
macOS 12 Monterey device compatibility
Here’s the full list of Macs compatible with macOS Monterey:
- 2015 and later MacBook
- Early 2015 and later MacBook Air
- Early 2015 and later MacBook Pro
- Late 2014 and later Mac mini
- Late 2015 and later iMac
- 2017 and later iMac Pro
- Late 2013 and later Mac Pro
Hands-on with macOS 12 Monterey
Watch our hands-on video walkthrough as we step through over 100 macOS Monterey changes and features.
Release date: When will macOS 12 Monterey come out?
macOS 12 Monterey was introduced at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference,
The macOS 12 Monterey developer beta program started on the same day as the keynote, June 7. On the 1st of July, Apple released the public beta of macOS 12 Monterey.
Apple officially released macOS 12 Monterey on October 25.
macOS 12 Monterey: here’s how to install the public beta version
Here’s how to install macOS 12 Monterey public beta:
- Make a fresh backup of your Mac in case you want to downgrade your device at any point
- On your Mac, head to Apple’s public beta website
- Click Sign In in the top right corner and sign in if you’re not already
- On the Guide for Public Betas page, choose macOS
- Scroll down under the Get Started section and click enroll your Mac
- Scroll down again and click Download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility
- Head to your Downloads folder and you should see the macOS Beta Access Utility
- Double-click it to mount the utility disk image, now double-click the Access Utility.pkg to install the macOS beta profile on your Mac
- The System Preferences > Software Update window should launch automatically with the macOS 12 Monterey beta appearing, click Download (almost 12GB in size)
- When the download is complete, you’ll see a new window to install macOS Monterey, click Continue