After being shown off at WWDC ’21, the day has finally arrived. Apple has released the latest version of its desktop operating system in macOS Monterey. This software aims to bring even more feature parity between the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, as Apple’s silicon transition continues to progress. But if you’re on an older version of macOS and want to know how to upgrade to macOS Monterey, we have you covered.
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Best Features of macOS Monterey
While macOS Big Sur introduced the interface that we see today, macOS Monterey is much more than an iterative update. From the changes to FaceTime to the introduction of Shortcuts on the Mac, Apple has implemented quite a few new features for you to play around with. Here are many of the changes that you’ll find if you upgrade to macOS Monterey:
- Spatial audio makes voices sound like they come from the direction of a speaker on the screen in a Group FaceTime call
- Voice Isolation blocks background noises so your voice is crystal clear
- Wide Spectrum brings every sound in your space into the call
- Portrait mode puts the focus on you by blurring your background on Mac computers with the M1 chip
- Grid view displays people in same-size tiles and highlights the active speaker
- FaceTime links for inviting friends to calls on Apple, Android, or Windows devices
- Shared with You displays content shared over Messages in your Mac apps
- New Shared with You section in Photos, Safari, News, Podcasts, and the TV app
- Multiple photos display as collages or stacks in Messages
- Tab Groups help you save and organize your tabs and sync across devices
- Intelligent Tracking Prevention prevents trackers from viewing your IP address
- Compact tab bar option lets you see more of the webpage on your screen
- Focus lets you automatically filter out notifications based on what you’re doing
- Options to customize a Focus for activities like work, gaming, reading, and more
- Focus sets across all Apple devices
- Status lets your contacts know that your notifications are silenced
Quick Note & Notes
- Quick Note lets you take notes on any app or website, and easily revisit them later
- Tags help you quickly categorize your notes by topic and make them easy to find
- Mentions enable you to notify others of important updates in shared notes
- Activity view displays who made recent changes in a shared note
AirPlay to Mac
- AirPlay to Mac lets you share content from iPhone or iPad straight to your Mac
- AirPlay speaker support for playing music through your Mac sound system
- Live Text makes text interactive in photos across the system
- Support for copying, translating, and looking up text that appears in photos
- Visual Look Up helps you learn about art, landmarks, and other objects in photos
- New app helps you automate everyday tasks, helping you accomplish them faster
- Gallery with pre-built shortcuts that you can add and run throughout the system
- Shortcuts editor helps you design custom shortcuts for your specific workflows
- Support for automatically converting Automator workflows into shortcuts
- Interactive 3D globe with enhanced details for mountains, oceans, and more on Mac computers with the M1 chip
- Detailed city maps display elevation, trees, buildings, landmarks, and more on Mac computers with the M1 chip
- Mail Privacy Protection helps prevent senders from tracking your Mail activity
- Recording indicator in Control Center for apps that are accessing your mic
- iCloud Private Relay (beta) helps prevent companies from creating a detailed profile of your browsing activity in Safari
- Hide My Email creates unique, random email addresses that forward to your inbox
Is My Mac Compatible?
The first step that you should take before considering the upgrade to Monterey is to make sure that your Mac is compatible. Apple has a fantastic track record of providing years of updates for devices that you wouldn’t expect. This trend continues with macOS Monterey, as you’ll find computers that are creeping up on the 10-year-old mark that can be upgraded to Apple’s 2021 software.
- 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
Back Everything Up First
If you have a Mac that Apple is supporting with macOS Monterey, then the very first step you should take is to make sure everything is backed up. There are obviously a few different ways that you can do this, including making use of iCloud Drive or a third-party cloud storage option.
While those are great and useful options, something else we definitely recommend is to backup your backup. This can be backing things up to an external hard drive, or using Apple’s Time Machine in order to back everything. But it’s still important to do so, in the event that you end up with missing files after the upgrade to macOS Monterey is complete.
Install and Upgrade to macOS Monterey
Provided that you have a compatible Mac, and have already backed up all of your important files, it’s time to make the jump. The process is the same as it has been with the most recent macOS releases, so it should be straightforward for many. Here’s how you can upgrade to macOS Monterey:
- Open the System Preferences app on your Mac.
- Click Software Update in the third row.
- Wait until your Mac locates the update.
- Click the Update Now button.
If you are wanting to upgrade to macOS Monterey from last year’s release, then the download may take a little while. This will depend on your internet speeds, along with depending on how loaded Apple’s servers are. Those who have been using the Monterey beta will enjoy a smaller download and a faster installation.
Nevertheless, once the latest version has finished downloading, you’ll be prompted to install the upgrade to macOS Monterey. If you are upgrading a MacBook, we recommend leaving your laptop connected to the charger during the process.
Should You Upgrade?
Since this is the release version of macOS Monterey, many of the bugs and issues have already been squashed. We wholeheartedly can recommend following the steps to upgrade to macOS Monterey. There are a lot of awesome and useful features in-tow, and unless you have an old Mac, Monterey will be quite worthwhile.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.