Useful macOS Big Sur Features You Might Not Know

macOS Big Sur has been out for about a month now, but macOS releases never get quite as much attention as iOS releases, so there may still be some features that you're not aware of. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some useful but lesser known macOS Big Sur tips that are worth checking out.

  • AirPods Auto Switching - With macOS Big Sur and iOS/iPadOS 14, your AirPods will swap automatically to the device that you're using at the current time, with no need to manually change the device you're using them with. AirPods will work with iPhone, iPad, or Mac you're actively using and listening to audio on. It mostly works, but this feature seems to sometimes be buggy.
  • Drag and Drop Menu Bar Icons - If you open up the Control Center, you can click and drag on any of the options to add it to the menu bar. So if you want Do Not Disturb to have a one-click menu bar toggle, just drag it to the menu bar from Control Center. This works for Now Playing, AirDrop, DND, and more.
  • Enhanced Voice Memos - When you use Voice Memos in Big Sur, there's a new option to automatically reduce background noise and echo with a single click, useful when you're recording lectures or meetings. You can also use Smart Folders for improved organization.
  • 4K YouTube Videos - YouTube videos can be watched in 4K HDR in macOS Big Sur because the OS supports YouTube's VP9 codec. Note that 4K YouTube options are going to be limited to newer Macs by default, but there's a trick to enable them on older Macs. Enable the Develop menu in Safari settings, select Experimental Features, and make sure both VP9 Decoder and VP9 SW Decoder on Battery are enabled.
  • Resize Widgets - macOS Big Sur has a new widget interface, and if you right click on any widget that has sizing options, you can choose a new size.
  • Silent Notifications - On any incoming notification in the Today center, if you right click you can select "Deliver Quietly." This setting will prevent future notifications from that app from popping up on your screen, but you'll see them in the notifications list.
  • Message Effects - Messages in Big Sur is a lot more like the Messages app on iOS devices. You can use Message Effects to enhance messages, find GIFs and insert photos. Just click on the little "A" on the left of the text bar to see a dropdown list of the options.
  • Disable Tinting - Want a Dark Mode that's even darker or a Light Mode that's brighter? That's possible if you turn off window tinting. Open up System Preferences, choose General, and uncheck "allow wallpaper tinting in windows." With this disabled, windows won't be affected by the wallpaper that you're using.

For more on macOS Big Sur, we have a detailed roundup with all of the features, plus a features guide highlighting what's most important, and a guide that has 50 must-know features.

Related Forum: macOS Big Sur

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Top Rated Comments

MacAddictPM Avatar
47 months ago
Your forgot the prolonged boot feature. ?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SirChristopher Avatar
47 months ago
AirPods auto switching works peeerfectly between my iPhone X and iPad Pro, but only works maybe 20% of the time switching with my 2015 iMac. And even when it does connect automatically, I still have to manually select AirPods as the preferred audio output from the Music app. Anyone else having this issue?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
d7d19285f0bd48 Avatar
47 months ago
The only "tip" or "trick" I have done to fixe one of the most horrible UI decisions (one of many) in Big Sur is fixing the menu bar. Specifically,

1) Take a screenshot of your desktop with all icons turned off.
2) Open screenshot in Preview and replace the menu bar with a "white" rectangle".
3) Set new desktop as edited screenshot.
4) Profit!!! Solid menu bar!!!

(Also fixed some icons....

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Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
47 months ago

.
I'm thinking I should set my password to your username.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adrianlondon Avatar
47 months ago

Resize Widgets
Didn't know about that. Thanks!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
posguy99 Avatar
47 months ago

Yes, you can turn off auto switching.
Good. Have done. Thank you.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)