Whether you're buying a new iMac or using a ten-year-old MacBook, there are a lot you can do with your system that you may not be able to realize.
Apple has built a variety of clever features into its computers that can make things a little easier and more convenient, but many stay buried deep in menus and settings windows.
Here are six things you can do with your Mac that you might not know about – as long as you're updated to Big Sur, the latest version of macOS, which gives you access to many of these features.
Run iPhone apps and games
With almost every Apple device using processors based on the same Apple Silicon architecture (including the redesigned iMac), integration between them is even tighter than ever. As long as you have a Mac with an M1 chip, you can run iOS apps and games right on your desktop.
First, open the App Store app and click your name in the lower left corner. Then click the iPhone and iPad apps tab at the top, then click the cloud icon to download and install your favorite iOS apps.
Alternatively, if you're looking for an app in the App Store, click the iPhone and iPad Apps tab on the search results page to download iOS versions to your Mac. Anyone who says "not verified for macOS" may not be perfectly optimized, but should still work well enough.
Use an iPad as a second screen
Wouldn't it be great if you could give your Mac a graphics pad that uses what you already have? If you have an iPad at home, you can – thanks to a feature called Sidecar. This built-in tool allows you to connect your iPad to your Mac as a second display. When you pair it with an Apple Pencil, you can draw on your iPad and see the results on your Mac. It's pretty nifty.
Sidecar is not limited to artistic endeavors, however. You can use it as a second monitor for a MacBook to expand your desktop and avoid clutter on your main display. No need to buy another monitor if you already have an iPad.
To get started, connect your iPad to your Mac using either a cable or Wi-Fi, then click the Display menu in the MacOS Big Sur Control Center or the AirPlay menu bar icon in MacOS Catalina. From there, click your iPad to connect. You can run your iPad as an extension of your Mac or mirror its contents (which is useful if you're using it as a graphics tablet).
Unlock your Mac with an Apple Watch
When you talk about hooking up secondary devices and pairing your Mac with an Apple Watch, it unlocks a brilliant feature that will save you a ton of time. With an Apple Watch on your wrist, you can unlock your Mac without ever entering your password. In fact, you don't have to do anything – the Mac just recognizes your Apple Watch and unlocks it for you. Magic.
To set up, make sure both devices are signed in with the same Apple ID. Now open the System Preferences on your Mac and click on Security and Privacy. Make sure you're on the General tab and check the box next to Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac. As the name suggests, this feature can also open compatible apps and even be used to confirm purchases on your Mac. While we're waiting for Face ID on the Mac, this is the next best thing.
Perform math and currency conversions in Spotlight
Spotlight is your Mac's built-in search function. You can put them into action by pressing Cmd + Spacebar and tapping. But did you know it can do a lot more than just find files and open Mac apps for you?
For example, try entering a simple math calculation – Spotlight will show you the answer. Do you need to convert a currency? Enter "$ 50 in Euros" and you will see exactly how much your money is worth. Convert temperatures and measurements, get dictionary definitions, look up the weather, view sports scores, and more. You can even search in natural language, e.g. B. "Files opened in the last week".
Sign your documents
Nowadays we all receive important documents by email. But how do you sign it? When it comes to entering your signature, you may feel a little lost. Don't worry, the solution is very simple.
You can file a signature with various Apple apps, including Mail, Notes, TextEdit, and Photos. Here we are using the Quick Look function in MacOS. First click the file you want to sign, then press the spacebar to open the quick view. At the top, click the Markup button (it looks like a pen tip).
In the menu that appears, click the Sign button, then click Create Signature. Click Camera to take a picture of your signature using your Mac's webcam, or click the iPhone or iPad tab (the exact text depends on what devices you have connected), then click Select device ". You can then fill out the signature on your iOS device.
When you have a signature ready, click Done. It will be saved in your signatures. Now just click on the signature to place it in the document. You can then resize it or move it as needed.
Create a custom keyboard shortcut
Many apps have built-in keyboard shortcuts. However, it can be annoying when a frequently used command doesn't have its own keyboard shortcut. However, you can change this and add your own custom shortcuts to almost any app on your Mac.
Open System Preferences, click Keyboard, and then click the Shortcuts tab. Click App Shortcuts in the left sidebar, then click the + button. Select the appropriate app and enter the exact path (including upper and lower case, ellipses, etc.) of the menu item that you want to link to. For example, in 1Password, the Create New Secure Note command uses the menu path File> New Item> Secure Note. In the system settings you have to use the path File-> New Item-> Safe Note. For more information, Apple has a handy support document.