It’s normal for any piece of modern technology to come equipped with a variety of features that can boost your productivity and efficiency. These features, however, are often hidden or not advertised – and with every update, new things are added that many people just don’t know about.
Catalina, the newest version of macOS, comes with a ton of features that you can use to maximize your MacBook productivity.
With Sidecar, you can use your iPad as a second display, extending your MacBook’s screen. This feature works with any device running on iPadOS that can connect to your MacBook – wired or wirelessly. Sidecar is also supported by several apps, including Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro and Maya. They come with features designed to take advantage of the extra display provided by your device.
Sidecar also allows you to use your favorite productivity-boosting iPadOS features on your MacBook, like Siri Shortcuts, and bring the power of the Apple Pencil to your MacBook. It can do this even if it doesn’t have an Apple Pencil-compatible touch screen.
To use Sidecar, follow these steps:
1. Click the AirPlay icon on the menu bar of your Mac. Choose the option to connect your iPad.
2. Right away, your iPad should display an extension of your Mac desktop.
3. You will not be able to use your iPad like any other display. If you’re unsure of how to start, try dragging windows off the side of your main Mac display over to the iPad.
4. To end a Sidecar session, click the AirPlay icon again and choose to “Disconnect your iPad.”
Reminders received a complete rebuild with Catalina. The new Reminders is designed with Siri intelligence that can help answer questions about what you need – and even predict what you’re going to ask.
Here’s how to use the new Reminders features that come with Catalina:
1. Start by opening the Reminders app.
2. Click “New Reminder.”
3. Start typing and Siri will begin to autocomplete your request. If it looks right, hit Enter. Otherwise, keep typing and hit Enter when you’re done.
4. The feature will automatically group reminders into categories of related events. You can manually re-organize reminders at any time.
Reminders also integrates with Messages. Mention someone in a reminder, and you’ll get a reminder popup the next time you contact them with Messages.
3. Voice Control
With Voice Control you can control your MacBook using just your voice. The feature is designed to make macOS more accessible. It can easily improve efficiency for users who struggle with typing, often find their hands full, or just prefer hands-free shortcuts and navigation.
Here’s how you can activate your Mac’s voice control features:
1. Open the Apple Menu. Under System Preferences, click Accessibility.
2. In the sidebar of the menu that opens, click “Voice Control.”
3. Select “Enable Voice Control.” The first time you enable Voice Control, your Mac will need to download an update, so you will need to be connected to the Internet.
4. While Voice Control is enabled, a mic icon will appear on your screen.
5. To pause Voice Control, click the “Sleep” label below the icon or say “Go to sleep.” To resume voice control, click or say “Wake up.”
6. When voice control is active, you can start navigating with your voice. To learn which commands you can use, say “Show me what commands I can use.”
You can also create your own voice commands.
4. Screen Time
Catalina’s Screen Time feature lets you track how you’re using your MacBook. It breaks down your screen time based on app category, so you can see how much time you spend on productivity, entertainment and creativity apps.
Screen Time also allows you to limit the usage of certain apps. If you find your entertainment apps a little too tempting when you could be working, you can always tell Catalina to restrict when or limit how long you can use them.
To use Screen Time, follow these steps:
1. Open the Apple Menu. Under System Preferences, click “Screen Time.”
2. Click the Options button in the lower-left corner.
3. Click “Turn On.”
4. To track usage, open the “Screen Time” sidebar.
5. Clicking on the App Usage, Notifications or Pickups feature will open different screens that each show a breakdown of how you use your screen time.
6. Clicking on the other features, including Downtime, will open a screen that allows you to regulate and limit app usage.
5. New Photos Organization
Catalina has also added new smart organization features to the Photos app. Now, Photos will automatically group new images by events — like parties or vacations.
To create a Smart Album, you can follow these steps:
1. Open the Photos app. Then, choose File and click “Create Smart Album.”
2. A dialog will appear that will allow you to choose the organizing criteria for your album. For example, you can create an album that only includes photos taken between certain dates or photos that include a certain person’s face. You can set as many conditions as you want.
3. Click OK. Your Smart Album will appear in the Photos app with your other albums.
Improving Productivity with New Catalina Features
Catalina has rebuilt macOS from the ground up, meaning there is a variety of new features you can use to boost your productivity.
If you have an iPad, you can extend your monitor and take advantage of iPad-only features on your MacBook. New Catalina features intelligently group related tasks and images to help you get and stay organized.
If you find you’re still struggling to stay productive, Screen Time can help you understand how you’re using your MacBook and what apps may be grabbing your attention while you should be getting things done.