What You Need To Know About Apple's New OS Sierra

September 09, 2016

What the new MacOS Sierra for Mac's offers. Reviews about it's features such as it's role in the Apple Watch, updates to the notification center, Siri, sounds, and much more.

Apple announced at WWDC 2016 their upcoming release of the iOS 10 along with macOS Sierra, succeeding OS X El Capitan. Apple claims it is their biggest release to date. (Though we can't remember a time when a release from Apple wasn't their biggest to date!) Here are some things you need to know: 

When will macOS Sierra be available to download and for what systems?

The update will be availables this Fall and is recommended for the following systems:

  • iMac: Late 2009 or newer
  • MacBook: Late 2009 or newer
  • MacBook Air: 2010 or newer
  • MacBook Pro: 2010 or newer
  • Mac Mini: 2010 or newer
  • Mac Pro: 2010 or newer

You can download macOS Sierra for older systems but that can possibly slow down your Mac as the systems would not be compatible with each other.

Feature: Organization

OS Sierra offers optimized storage space with several options:

Optimized iCloud Storage Recommendation - When storage is low, older items on your Mac system will flow to your iCloud. Upon installing macOS Sierra you'll have the option to move all your files to your iCloud account.

Optimize Storage - Mac will erase any movie or video already watched.

Empty Trash Automatically -This option will erase trash after 30 days meaning when you trash your files it’s gone without the second option to completely erase it. Trash may sometimes build up without a second thought and may take up much needed space. 

Reduce Clutter - This lets you view older documents as well as their size, this function allows you to delete unneeded documents or compress larger ones.

The benefit of storing files and folders onto iCloud is being able to access the files and folders from any connected iOS device linked to your account. Additionally, OS and iOS devices are able copy and paste between linked devices. Example: if you copy a sentence from your Mac, you're then able to paste that same sentence onto your linked iOS device 

Less notable features you would most likely use are the organization or views of files. Meaning you're now able to view their files by having their folders show first and single items after. 

A new role for the Apple Watch:

You're now able to unlock their desktops or laptops with a linked Apple Watch. Admittedly, even though we're not big fans of the Apple Watch, this feature is cool. You're now able to purchase items on a company's eCommerce website, on Safari, with either an Apple Watch or an iPhone through Apple Pay. Apple Watch users would only need to tap the watch to pay - paying with iPhone sounds a bit more cumbersome with having to verify your purchase through the iPhone by a passcode or thumbprint. The feature sounds interesting but question how much more efficient it is than 1-click for at least Amazon. Also, many eCommerce sites (at least the ones we're creating!) are using quicker payment methods and multiple stored credit cards and addresses all for easier checkout. (Email to talk about efficient strategies for eCommerce sites.) 

Notification Center

Notification Center has been given a facelift, from a dark black console, the new layout features a white overlay of the screen. Ah. The white overlay gives a more crisp, or cleaner feeling than its predecessor. 


You're now able to see output options of where your volume/sound is coming from. Prior to this you had to click the volume button and then click into options to find where the sound source was. It’s definitely an upgrade as there is one less menu to go through. For our weekend warriors - or active weekend warriors during the work week - this will definitely help when you're trying to get your playlist up for your guests. (Point for UX!)

Minimize your screen space:

You're now able to create tabs within their program as if they were in a Web Browser or the Adobe suite. You need to simply go to System Preferences then to Dock. From Dock you then can set prefer tabs when opening documents to “always.” This includes applications such as Pages and Maps. It saves the hassle of trying to figure out what document you need from 10 different keynotes or pages on the bottom of your dock.

Picture in Picture mode:

Think of the Youtube App where you're able to drag a video to the corner while browsing for the next video - essentially speaking to our lack of an attention span! Similarly Apple has integrated that exact feature into Sierra. Videos that are qualified will have the option to view in picture in picture mode. Activating PiP will pop the video up from the application onto your desktop. You're able to view it as it lays over other applications running and navigate between different desktops. Resizing options and the ability to dock and snap your video onto one of the corners of your screen will follow after. For the moment  not every video on every website and application will be supported. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Youtube, Facebook, Netflix and Hulu won't work, but hopefully Apple will have all popular streaming sites and videos enabled soon. 

Apple brings Dwell Control:

This feature may take some time and practice to use, however if you’re limited on your mobility it can be very effective. Dwell Control uses head tracking and eye tracking technology to move about on your desktop. Once your mouse has gone inactive for an amounted time Dwell Control will activate. You can choose different settings such as what triggers a right click, left click or hover. Essentially your camera from your OS device is watching your movements in order to execute a command. Tilting your head to the side can trigger a right click but we feel just a little creeped out by this. It's a really cool option to have, but we'll stick to the old setting and just go by our trackpads or mouse. 

React on Messages:

Similar to Facebook’s reaction feature, Apple's iMessages have integrated a similar feature allowing your iOS device to to give feedback to someone’s message. We saw earlier this year Facebook users were able to "react" to different posts. You can show you're angry, upset, confused, sad,  or happy with this new feature. In the same way, Apple's iMessages have become more sophisticated where you are given a tap back feature. You would simply need to tap on an image or message, after a small cloud would appear. As seen below you are given the following options to react to a message. Following Facebook's lead again, you can now have large emojis shown in their conversations. We checked though, and it can only be up to 3 before they're reduced to a smaller standard size. Three large hearts to show your love or 30 smaller ones? Quality over quantity? The end of a relationship?

Apple Music:

Apple introduces their For You section which is what it sounds like - recommended music for you. It seems this was a little over due as major music platforms such as SoundCloud, Spotify, and Youtube already had this feature. It was a needed update but perhaps due to lost consumers and heavy competition Apple decided to finally integrate this feature with Apple music. Better late than never? Maybe in this case, but for die-hard Apple fans this is a small update that is in the least thoughtful.  

Apple Photos:

Similar to Facebook, Apple’s Photos has face tracking recognition giving the ability to categorize photos by a person. This was released last year for OS devices but did not support iOS devices. It still needs work though as the face tracking recognition only works when a user connects their OS and IOS devices to upload photos. Additionally Memories are introduced where photos on a location, events or dates will be created into more of a montage rather than an album.

Lastly Siri

Siri can be started up from different access points, but users are suggested to dock Siri as a keyboard shortcut. Siri is pretty standard if you compare it to its iOS counterpart. We found one interesting feature Siri has on macOS that can't be done on iOS devices - you're able to ask Siri to search for certain photos and from that search you're able to click and drag to its needed application. If that's the only difference rather than shouting louder for a command than it's not a big play for Apple.


The new MacOS Sierra is definitely more user friendly and great for the everyday user. The new tab option saves screen space and time for anyone who uses their mac for work while new features for iMessaging are definitely just a fun add in. From the analysis and cues from Facebook is Apple falling behind on trends or do they just like to hype up their users?

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