Everything you need to know about macOS Monterey

macOS 12 Monterey is focused on improving the performance of M1 chips, among other things.


After several beta updates and discussions, Apple is finally releasing macOS 12 Monterey on October 25. Naturally, the latest macOS is going to bring with it a wide assortment of features that Macs and MacBooks can take advantage of as soon as it's out. However, keeping up with what's new in Monterey won't be easy, which is what we're here to help with.

MacOS Monterey isn't a big leap in terms of performance and features, but it's a necessary small step towards a more optimized macOS.

While waiting for Monterey to release on October 25, you might want to read up on macOS 12, below:

QUICKTAKE: View the short-form version of this article or scroll to keep reading.

Which Macs and MacBooks will support macOS 12?

It's not going to happen soon, but Monterey is the start of Apple phasing out its Intel-powered devices.

It should already go without saying but the incoming MacBook Pros that are equipped with the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors will support macOS 12 Monterey.

Here is a complete list of all macOS 12 Monterey-compatible devices:

  • iMac late 2015 and later
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later
  • MacBook Air early 2015 and later
  • MacBook Pro early 2015 and later
  • Mac Pro late 2013 and later
  • Mac mini late 2014 and later
  • MacBook early 2016 and later

Why is macOS 12 called Monterey?

macOS 11, Big Sur, was named after a coastal region on the Central Coast of California. The follow-up, Monterey, is part of the same Californian coastal region.

Is macOS 12 Monterey free?

macOS 12 Monterey will be available to download starting on October 25, Monday. As with previous macOS updates, Monterey is a free update for everyone with a compatible device. If you're not sure if your device is compatible, you'll want to check out our list above.

In the meantime, you can try the public beta version of Monterey at your own risk.

What's new in macOS 12 Monterey?

MacOS 12 Monterey is all about seamless integration across multiple Apple devices.

Apple is targeting users with multiple Apple devices with Monterey as well as M1 device owners. Unlike Big Sur, Monterey will have several features that are only available on devices with M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max chips. This suggests that it's only a matter of time before Apple stops supporting Intel Macs.

Here are some of the new features that will be available on Monterey:

Universal Control

Universal Control is a convenient feature that lets you use a single mouse and keyboard across your Macs, MacBooks, and iPads. You can also drag and drop files across multiple devices with zero setups needed. All you need to do is to put your Apple devices close together and that's it. Unfortunately, this update might not be available at launch.

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FaceTime

Apple is bringing in new features to FaceTime calling in Monterey, adding spatial audio support, Voice Isolation to help minimize background noise, Wide Spectrum for when you hear environment sounds, and the ability to blur user backgrounds using the Neural Engine for M1 devices. Also, starting with Monterey, users can invite anyone to a FaceTime call with end-to-end encryption, even those using Android and Windows devices.

Airplay

Monterey is also going to let Mac owners use AirPlay and use MacBooks or Macs as video output or speaker.

Shortcuts

macOS 12 will bring Shortcuts to Macs that will let users automate everyday tasks using ready-made presets and custom ones. You may even trigger these tasks hands-free using Siri with support for Automator workflows.

Safari

Apple has redesigned Safari for macOS Monterey, starting with compact tabs with refined toolbars and tab groups. These updates will make the browser easier and more convenient to access. This is going to come in handy for people who open several tabs at once when browsing.

Another added feature is the ability to name the group tabs that will be accessible across multiple Apple devices.

Notes

Apple has also made improvements to the Notes app to make it easier to collaborate and organize notes. The Quick Note feature, in particular, will let you take notes from websites and apps, as well as add links straight from Maps or Safari. Multiple people can now also work on notes and add comments, with the Activity View feature letting multiple users see other collaborators' edits and tag them later on for easier identification.

Focus

Focus is a setting exclusive to Macs and MacBooks. Once enabled, it will automatically filter out notifications depending on what you are doing. The feature will also let you set your status to let others know that you're busy working on something. In addition to this, it will come with a mirroring function so you can set up Focus on more than one Apple device.

TL;DR

It's been a long time since Apple focused on refinements and small improvements. The last time this happened was in 2009 with Snow Leopard. Monterey is very much like macOS' 2009 update. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as a move to a completely different chip means that Apple will have a lot of optimization to do.

Having said that, don't expect Apple to stop optimizing macOS to run better on the new Apple Silicon chips with Monterey.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is based in the Philippines. He is a lifelong gamer and a PC hardware enthusiast. He builds and repairs laptops and computers for friends and family in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.