macOS High Sierra: The Good Things in Life Are Free (Part II)

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode 248

Last week I promised you a peek at some new features macOS High Sierra has that are interesting and cool, and I don’t believe any app has more interesting new features than the overhauled Photos app.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the sidebar is always-on, and no longer disappears on a whim. Better still, Live Photos shot on your iPhone can be edited, with wacky effects like Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure. And, best of all, you can (finally) choose a key photo.

Edit Live Photos with wacky effects and (finally) choose the key photo.

Edit Live Photos with wacky effects and (finally) choose the key photo.

You’ll no longer find the ability to specify an external photo editing app in Photos’ Preferences. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s been replaced by something even more flexible. Now, when you edit an image, you have the option of choosing almost any image editing app from the Extensions menu.

Choose an editor or action from the Extensions menu.

Choose an editor or action from the Extensions menu.

As before, when you save your file, the changes are saved back to the Photos library. But, unlike before, you get to choose the external editing app or action you wish to use on the fly.

Finally (at least for Photos), there are powerful new built-in tools such as Curves and Selective Color, which provide much finer control over contrast and color range adjustments than ever before.

Moving right along, my favorite new Safari feature is that it stops audio and video from auto-playing on web pages by default. And, you can now enable or disable many settings including page zoom, push notifications, content blockers, and auto-play on a site-by-site basis.

These options are specific to the current website and are remembered until you change them!

These options are specific to the current website and are remembered until you change them!

Finally, while I like the idea of Safari’s “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” which “eliminates cross-site tracking and keeps your browsing private,” I had to disable it to use my bank’s website and several others so it’s disabled for the time being. I’m not sure it’ll ever be convenient enough for me to re-enable, but we’ll see.

Moving right along, Spotlight’s big new feature this year is flight status information. Just type an airline name and flight number and you’ll see everything you need to know about the flight including a map of its flight path!

Spotlight can now show you flight tracking info!

Spotlight can now display flight tracking info!

The Notes app gained a simple table tool for creating rows, columns, and cells.

And last but not least, Siri-on-the-Mac has been beefed up in myriad ways. My fave has to be that he/she now uses more natural, less robotic sounding voices. And Siri is now much better integrated with Apple Music. Today, when I ask her to play music I like, she actually does! She also knows a lot more music trivia, including the date most songs were released, which has already resolved several arguments.

The bottom line is that High Sierra isn’t a flashy upgrade. It does offer significant performance improvements under the hood and a handful of useful new features. If you’ve done your homework as described in Rants & Raves Episode 246, and you’re sure the apps and peripherals you depend upon are compatible with High Sierra, I think you’ll find the upgrade improves on Sierra in many (mostly subtle) ways.

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