10 macOS Catalina features you (probably) didn’t know

New tools for Spaces, Activity Viewer, screen tinting and text zooming, among other new talents

Apple, Mac, macOS, Mac OS, X, Catalina, tips
Apple

Following its WWDC 2019 reveal, Apple shipped macOS Catalina in the early fall. Most Mac users have already taken a look at its most discussed improvements, but have you come across these?

One everyone knew

I guess most Mac users are aware of the tweaked windowing controls. Hover your cursor over the green button in the application window and you can open the app up in Full Screen, Tile Left and Tile Right views, or exit if you are already in those views.

If you are using an iPad with the same Apple ID on the same network, you can also enable Sidecar view here.

Light mode, Dark mode, Auto

You have been able to choose between Dark and Light mode in System Preferences > General > Appearance ever since Mojave. Catalina adds one more thing — an Auto button that will adjust which mode you are in depending on the time of day.

Block emails

You can now block emails from named senders, which is useful if you keep receiving marketing materials from a firm that just doesn’t want to listen when you tell it you want to unsubscribe.

I think most users know they can add someone to their Block list by right-clicking the sender’s email address in the From field of a message and choosing Block Contact.

How do you review the contacts you’ve blocked? Easy. Blocked email addresses can be reviewed in the Junk Mail preferences where you can manually block people by adding their email, or unblock them if you feel you’ve made an error.

Hover Text

If you have poor vision you may benefit from learning how to use Catalina’s new Hover Text feature. When it is enabled, you can move your cursor over something on the screen, such as a menu item, text, button or input field, tap a modifier button (Command by default) and you will see a high-resolution zoomed version of it in a separate window.

You’ll find the feature in System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom, where you should select Enable Hover Text.

While in this section. you can also tap Options to set things like the font size for zoomed text, text color and more.

Another useful accessibility feature in Catalina lets you set color filters for your display (System Preferences > Accessibility > Display). 

Activity Viewer

Activity Viewer’s most important improvement is its new capacity to quit multiple processes.

To do so, just select the processes you want to terminate and then tap the cross (quit) button.

In the past, this button was made inactive if you had multiple processes selected, but this is no longer the case.

Touch Bar talents

I’m a fan of using Spaces on a Mac to help make sense of a busy desktop, and I am pleased Apple has made it possible to use the Touch Bar to move between the Spaces I use. You set this in System Preferences > Keyboard > Touch Bar Shows.

There you can choose App Controls, Expanded Control Strip, Function Keys, Quick Actions or Spaces.

Save disk space

If you use iCloud Drive, you can now Control-click a file that is on your Mac and is also saved in your drive and choose Remove Download. This removes the file from your Mac while leaving it still available in iCloud Drive.

Photos: Unable to Upload

Back in the bad old days when I used to put collections of iTunes hints together, one hint I’d often suggest would be to create a smart list to monitor incomplete iTunes tracks. This same principle works in Photos, where you’ll now find an Unable to Upload item in your sidebar in the event your Mac can’t upload some item.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, stayin’ online

What happens when your Wi-Fi fails? Do you spend time tapping the Refresh button to check, or does your Mac simply default to using your iPhone’s data connection?

In Catalina’s System Preferences > Network you’ll find a new Auto Hotspot item which will automatically connect your Mac via your iPhone if it is running as a Personal Hotspot.

Signing documents

Open the document you wish to sign in Preview on your Mac, tap the Markup item, then choose Signature > create signature. You’ll be able to sign the document using your finger on your iPhone.

What other hidden features have you come across? Please let us know.

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