The default messaging app for Mac has a ton of hidden features. While you'll mainly use it as a tool to get in touch with your contacts quickly, you can make your conversations more engaging and improve the overall experience by taking advantage of these features.
Apple has made some significant improvements to the macOS Messages app in the past few years, with more features to be released soon. Whether you're new to the platform or a long-time iMessage user, here are the best messaging features in macOS.
1. Mentions and inline replies
These are two different functions, but they are mainly used for the same purpose. Both mentions and inline replies come in handy, especially in group conversations. You can use them to reply to a specific group member or to reply to a specific message.
In addition, you can use mentions to ping the people who have muted the group chat, as long as they haven't turned mentions off. On the other hand, you can click an inline reply to open a dedicated thread and view all replies to that particular message.
To mention someone in iMessage just type in the contact's name or use the @ Characters followed by their name. For inline responses, just hold down the Ctrl key and click the text bubble to click the reply Possibility.
2. Pinned conversations
The updated messaging app also lets you prioritize your conversations. You can pin threads to the top of your message list and make sure they are easily accessible at all times. Tip indicators, tapbacks and new messages are animated directly above the pin.
You can currently have up to nine pinned conversations in the macOS Messages app. Yes, you can pin group conversations too.
If a group thread contains unread messages, you will find that the last participants are circling the pinned conversation.
To pin a conversation, all you have to do is right-click or Ctrl-click the message thread and select pen from the context menu. You can also click and drag message threads to the top of the list. To untangle a pinned thread, Ctrl-click and choose Detachment.
3. iMessage effects
Would you like to congratulate someone, celebrate a special occasion or wish your friend a happy birthday? Use iMessage effects to express yourself. The Messages app gives you access to 12 different effects including screen effects and bubble effects.
You can access all of these effects from the app drawer next to the text box. However, make sure to type the message before checking it out. You can preview all of the effects before actually sending them.
Message effects can also be triggered with certain keywords. For example, you can send a Happy Birthday message to trigger the balloon effect. Or you can wish someone a Happy New Year to start the fireworks effect.
4. News search
You might think this is a basic feature, but in fact, it's way more useful than you think in the Messages app. In addition to being able to find and filter messages from all of your conversations, you can find files, photos, links, and more in seconds.
The search results are clearly divided into contacts, conversations, photos, documents and links. The matching keywords are highlighted as you type in the search box. When you click on a result, you will jump to the speech bubble you are looking for in the thread.
Aside from the obvious use of the trackpad to select and access the search tool, you can use the Command + F Keyboard shortcut too.
5. Integrated GIF search
You can send memes and other funny GIFs to your friends right from the Messages app. You no longer need to use your web browser or a third-party app like GIF Keyboard. The search tool is built right in and is fairly easy to access.
The function is called #images in the app drawer and is next to other functions such as message effects and Memoji stickers. Enter the keyword and you will find matching GIFs. It won't let you send custom GIFs with it before asking.
6. Memoji stickers
Emojis are sure to be fun, but you can personalize your expression with Memoji stickers. Memojis can be fun animated avatars of yourself, and you can create one in minutes using the Messages app.
If you've already created a Memoji on your other Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, you should be ready. Unlike normal emojis, Memoji stickers can be accessed through the app drawer.
Aside from the custom Memoji stickers, you also have access to a range of Memoji characters such as aliens, robots, giraffes, and more. Unlike animojis, Memoji stickers don't animate.
7. Shared with you
Image source: Apple
Next on the list, we have a new macOS Monterey feature that works in tandem with other apps installed on your Mac. Links, photos, videos and other content that you receive from contacts are in the respective app via a special section called. accessible Shared with you.
Suppose someone messages you a playlist while you are busy. The playlist will automatically appear in your Apple Music app so you no longer have to scroll through all the messages.
This feature currently only seems to work with Apple apps like Apple News, Apple TV, Safari, and Photos.
8. Photo collections
Image source: Apple
This is another feature to come that will change the way you view a series of photos that are sent to you. Currently in macOS, when someone shares multiple photos, they will be displayed individually in the thread. That means you have to scroll a lot to go through them all.
This is not the case with macOS Monterey. Photo collections ensure that all of the shared images appear as a single stack that you can swipe through one at a time. Smaller collections are displayed as a collage that you can see right away.
You can click on these new photo collections to open a grid view where you can add tapbacks or inline responses.
Messages on Mac have caught up
For some time, the macOS Messages app lagged behind its iOS and iPadOS counterparts, missing important features like iMessage effects, GIF search, Memoji stickers, and so on. Fortunately, the macOS Big Sur update fixed almost all of these oversight issues.
And it looks like macOS Monterey will further improve the messaging experience on Mac.
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About the author
(22 articles published)
Hamlin is a full time freelance writer who has worked in the field for over four years. Since 2017 his work has appeared on OSXDaily, Beebom, FoneHow and others. In his spare time, he either trains in the gym or takes big strides in the crypto room.
By Hamlin Rozario
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