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Difference between MacOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan

From the “Developer Preview” phase to “Public Beta”, MacOS Sierra has gone a long way and people have already downloaded it. Anyone who has a compatible Mac and an Apple ID are just a few clicks away from using this beta OS. But as a Mac user I am readily aware that using betas has its pros and cons. People usually stay away from betas until glitches are fixed and when reviews are at its best.

As much as I am careful in downloading and installing beta software, I couldn’t resist the urge to try MacOS Sierra. “Siri” would be one of the factors I had to try MacOS Sierra. I have tried the X public betas before and found that they worked pretty well. So let’s talk about the new and exciting features of MacOS Sierra and you’ll feel the urge to download it too.

I’ll be showing a few comparisons of the features of MacOS Sierra versus those of OS X El Capitan.

  1. Siri

I have been using an Iphone for years and Siri has been such a great help. Just imagine having her help you out on your Mac. I think it’s definitely about time that Apple stepped up as Microsoft integrated this feature in Windows 10 and was applauded by everyone.

I can say that having Siri in my Mac has been an amazing experience. To launch Siri, you can click the Menu bar icon right beside the Notification Center icon. You can also use your keyboard to launch Siri, just long press Command + Space.

Siri is still the same helpful AI you get from the iPhone. Whatever she can do for you on your iPhone she can also do for you on you Mac. It can adjust or switch some features on or off for you, from you Mac screen’s brightness, to connectivity feature like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi etc.

You can also ask her about your Mac’s specifications, I asked her how fast my Mac was and she replied with the processor’s name and clock speed. Siri definitely saves a lot of time than clicking through several icons in your Mac.

Another thing I’m excited about Siri is that Apple’s going to open her up to third-party app developers. Just imagine asking Siri to get you ride via Uber, or even send messages to your friends in WhatsApp. The additional features that Siri can do will be endless as long as third-part apps keep popping up every now and then.

  1. Universal Clipboard

After using this feature, you won’t be able to imagine how you survived without it all your life. If you’re wondering what’s so special about a clipboard, then let me explain how it works. You can copy any text from your Mac and paste it to your iPhone via Bluetooth. I used to send the text I want to copy through an email or a note app, but with the Universal Clipboard a few clicks will do the trick. The Universal Clipboard really embodies Apple’s Handoff and Continuity feature. It really makes work faster and more efficient.

  1. Managing and Optimizing Storage

Before MacOS Sierra, you’ll see clock indicating whether storage is used for app, audio, documents etc. Now you can see the actual file types that occupy your storage space. It will help you decide which files you need to delete or which ones are taking most of your storage space.

Not only can you manually delete these files, you can also optimize your storage by choosing to automatically delete files in the Trash that are older than 30 days. This feature might be familiar to iPhone users as this is readily available in your Photos app.

Another feature also helps you not just optimize your storage but allows you to access files across all you Apple devices. You can choose store you files in the iCloud Drive if the Desktop and Documents folders are almost full. This hits two birds with one stone, Storage Optimization and File Accessibility.

Sierra also does all the storage cleaning for you. Once you space is required on your Mac, the OS will remove copies of a file from the local storage and store them only in the iCloud Drive. There’s no need for you to go through all your files and see if the ones you have locally stored are duplicated in the I Cloud Drive and needs to be deleted which is definitely and daunting and time-consuming task. This feature is also very helpful to those who have smaller storage or SSDs in their Mac.

  1. Tabs in Application

This might be one of the features I would like to be improved. The MacOS Sierra boasts tabs in almost all applications, take note “almost” all. In the duration that I’ve used Sierra, I noticed that the Notes app has no tabbing. The tab support is very uneven everywhere else. It’s still in the beta phase so my fingers are crossed for the improvement of this feature.

In the Keynote app, you need to press Command + Shift + T to activate the tab bar, only then can you add new tabs. Another way is by clicking View> Show Tab Bar.

When I said that the tab support is uneven in some apps I meant it. Here are a few examples:

  • Command + T works for new tabs in Maps, but It doesn’t work for Keynote and pages.
  • In order to add tabs for Keynote and Pages you’ll have to click View > Show Tab Bar
  • To show or hide tabs in Keynote you’ll have to press Command + Shit + T, however, this shortcut does not work on pages.
  • In pages you have to click View> Show Tab Bar to activate tabs.

This is still the public beta phase anyway, so I’m still optimistic that it will improve.

  1. Picture in Picture Mode

If you are familiar with the browser Helium, then this feature might be something you already use. In the Sierra public beta, you can use Picture in Picture mode when using Safari. It’s a feature used mostly by people who multi task. When you are watching a video you can click on the “Picture on Picture” icon and it send the video to the corner of your desktop so you can watch it while working on something else.

The only con about this feature is that it doesn’t work on YouTube videos, but I’ve tried it with Vimeo and it works fine. So that’s one more thing that needs to be improved as a lot of work related tutorials are available in YouTube and it would make all our lives a lot easier.

  1. Memories

This feature is available in both iOS 10 and MacOS Sierra public beta. Google Photos has a feature similar to this. For photo/selfie lovers out there, this feature will recognize the face in your photos and will group or categorize them accordingly. The Memories feature basically looks at the time and date the photos were taken and will group them together like how you would in an actual photo album. It’s now easier to look at certain events when you want to reminisce or show some people. You won’t need to scroll to hundreds or thousands of photos to get to the ones you need.

Now there’s still a difference between Apple’s Photos and Google Photos. Apple does all of the activity locally in your device. Google, on the other hand, uses the cloud perform the activities above. Now the good and bad news, if the tasks are performed locally on your device the processing load is heavier and might take longer, the good news is if it’s done locally then you can do it offline as well.

  1. Redesigned Notification Center

Well some people don’t really accept change that well, I for one prefer OS X El Capitan’s darker background better. That could just be me as I prefer darker colors in my devices as they’re less stressful for my eyes. But that could be a different case for you. The lighter Notification Center background in MacOS Sierra does look cleaner and some might prefer that. The darker background of OS X El Capitan looks more seamless when using MacBook Pros as the screens have black bezels around them. But MacOS Sierra’s light background gives a nice touch if you’re using a MacBook Air.

  1. Movable Third Party Menu Bar Icons

In OS X El Capitan you can move the default menu bar icons but not the third party icons, that all changed in MacOS Sierra. To move third party icons before, you would need to use apps like the Bartender. MacOS Sierra let you move third party icons anywhere on the menu bar which makes customization and organization of your desktop easier.

You can move third party icons by pressing Command then click and hold the icon you would like to move and drag it to the part of the menu bar where you’d like it to be.

  1. Collaboration in Notes

Prior to MacOS Sierra, sharing notes to other people was already possible. The new feature for Notes is that you can now invite people to collaborate with you. This feature helps you finish your task efficiently as it let other people interact or share their thoughts, corrections or suggestions through notes, a good tool for meetings.

  1. Apple Watch Unlock

The apple watch unlock is a pretty cool new feature that lets you unlock your Mac if you sit down in front of it while wearing your Apple Watch. This is good for people who are always on the go, just imagine running around your office for errands and unlocking your mac every time you need to work on something. I for one have this annoying issue as I keep on locking and unlocking my Mac when I leave and get back to my desk.

Now for this feature to work both devices should run the compatible OS, your Mac should be on MacOS Sierra and you Apple Watch should be running watchOS 3. There are authentication steps that should be done as well like enabling two-factor authentication, setting up a passcode and signing both devices to the same iCloud account. These steps might be a bit of a hassle if you have not set them up yet, but I believe it’s the best way to secure your data.

MacOS Sierra a Big Leap from OS X El Capitan

After the all that I’ve mentioned above, I can conclude that MacOS Sierra is definitely a progressive OS and Apple has done really well with improving some of our beloved features from previous Operating Systems. There are still some issues or glitches that I encountered when using this new beta OS, I did get unusual heating patterns on my Mac. It could be an issue just for MacBook Air; I still have no feedback from MacBook Pro users but if you do encounter anything similar, let us know. Another thing I noticed is there are instances of slowdowns and it usually happens when I’m accessing my External HD drive. You might want to consider these issues before you install the MacOS Sierra, but if you think that it won’t really affect you daily tasks on you Mac and you are excited to try out the feature we discussed above then by all means take the plunge.

Keep in mind that if you have already upgraded you Mac to MacOS Sierra public beta, it will be tricky to downgrade back to OS X El Capitan. It is always best to keep a backup of everything because if you do decide to downgrade then you would need to do a fresh install of OS X El Capitan on your Mac. So weigh the pros and cons or just wait for most features to be ironed out by the developer.

We are all thrilled for the final version of MacOS Sierra. If you have tried the public beta and have thoughts about it, please share it with us or if you have questions about its features that might not have been discussed in detail then feel free to let us know.