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Apple MacOS Sierra logo

Apple MacOS Sierra for Mac

By Apple Free Editors' Rating

Editors' Review

shelbybrown Sep 20, 2016

The new Mac operating system offers more than a name change. MacOS Sierra version 10.12 moves Apple's desktop OS closer to its mobile counterpart, gaining Siri, Apple Pay, and more.


Apple's digital assistant moves in: Siri, the iOS personal digital assistant, is available in Sierra. Ask for help by clicking Siri's icon in the Mac menu bar, tapping its Dock icon, or using a keyboard shortcut. Calling on Siri brings up a window with a waveform and a query asking what you need help with. Unfortunately, saying "Hey, Siri," does not work. The digital assistant works on Sierra much as it does on iOS, responding to your queries and helping you perform tasks.

Closer ties to iCloud: With iCloud Desktop and Documents, iCloud will sync the files and folders you've stored on your desktop and in your Documents folder across your Mac and iOS devices. You can also have iCloud take on some of your storage needs by moving photos and documents off your local Mac and into the cloud. Likewise, you can store seldom-used files and iTunes movies and TV shows on iCloud.

Unlock with Apple Watch: With an authenticated Apple Watch on your wrist and Auto Unlock, you can wake up a locked Mac and log in to it from up to three feet away.

Apple Pay for Sierra: Apple Pay, the company's mobile payment and digital wallet service, is now available in Sierra. With Safari, tap the Apple Pay button on a supporting e-commerce site and authorize your purchase on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Messages: In iOS 10 the Messages update is huge; in Sierra, not so much. Still, Mac users get some of the improvements. For example, you can view some of the new iOS 10 chat features in Sierra, such as animations and Invisible Ink, but you can't create them. You can preview webpages, however, and watch YouTube videos in Messages.

Photos 2.0: With Sierra, Apple continues to move its photo-editing app forward with new editing tools and the ability to find and display photos in context. The Light tool, for example, can now make area-specific adjustments in an image. And -- hooray! -- you can edit Live Photos with Photos' editing tools. Photos also has a Memories tool that collects and presents images around an event.

iTunes: Apple Music gets a new look in Sierra. The For You section, for example, does a better job displaying recommended albums and playlists. And with Radio you now can more easily find and listen to Beats 1 and music-only stations.

Tabs in apps: Borrowing an idea from Web browsers, Sierra lets you use tabs in Apple-built apps -- including Maps, Mail, and Keynote -- as well as supported third-party apps.

It's free: Since Apple OS X Mavericks in the fall of 2013, the company has made its OS free, and Sierra follows the trend.

Generous system requirements: Sierra runs on a broad range of Macs, going back to some 2009 models: iMacs and MacBooks from late 2009 and later; and MacBook Airs, the MacBook Pros, Mac Minis, and Mac Pros from 2010 and later.


iCloud limitations: Apple mainly sees the cloud as an individual service. You can share photos and videos with friends and family and collaborate with others on iWork documents in iCloud. But if you want broad sharing and collaboration tools, such as those offered by Dropbox or Google Drive, iCloud comes up short.

Bottom Line

MacOS Sierra is another solid update to Apple's desktop OS. While it can at times feel like the Mac gets the hand-me-downs from iOS -- Siri, finally, and a limited version of Messages -- the additions are welcome and makes MacOS an even better companion in your Apple device neighborhood.

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Get ready for MacOS Sierra

MacOS Sierra First Look

iOS 10 review

Full Specifications

What's new in version 10.12.3

  • Improves automatic graphics switching on MacBook Pro (15-inch, October 2016)
  • Resolves graphics issues while encoding Adobe Premiere Pro projects on MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13- and 15-inch, October 2016)
  • Fixes an issue that prevented the searching of scanned PDF documents in Preview


Release February 1, 2017
Date Added February 1, 2017
Version 10.12.3

Operating Systems

Operating Systems Macintosh
Additional Requirements None


Total Downloads 58,101
Downloads Last Week 88
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Developer's Description

What can your Mac do now? Just ask.

Siri makes its debut on Mac, with new capabilities designed just for the desktop. And that's not the only way your Mac is smarter. macOS Sierra helps you rediscover your best photos, shop faster and more conveniently online, and work more seamlessly between devices. It can also help free up valuable storage space. Now your Mac does even more for you, so you can do more with your Mac.

Just like you, Siri can do great new things on a Mac.

Talk about big news. No matter what you're working on, your intelligent personal assistant is always a click away. The handy features of Siri on iOS are now on your Mac, along with brand-new ways to help you with the things you do every day on your desktop.

Ask Siri to do its thing while you do yours.

Siri on Mac is all about multitasking. So you can be working on one thing, like finishing up a document, and ask Siri to send a message to your coworker saying it's on the way -- without stopping what you're doing.

Let Siri locate your files for you.

Working with files is a big part of using a Mac. And Siri makes it a snap. Can't remember where you saved that report? Ask Siri to search for the documents you opened this week, then refine your results to just the ones with the word "annual" in the title.

Keep Siri results where you can always find them.

Pin sports schedules, Twitter results, a list of files related to your big project, and more, right in Notification Center. Everything stays up to date -- so you always know where to find game times, trending topics, or important documents.

Search. Drag. Drop.

Search for images and information just by asking. Then drag results right to a window on your desktop. Drop an image from the web into a Pages document to make it pop. Or a Maps location into an invitation to get your party started.

Universal Clipboard

Copy on one device. Paste on another.

Copy images, video, and text from an app on your iPhone. Then paste into another app on your nearby Mac -- or vice versa. There are no extra steps. Just copy and paste as you normally do. Find a great recipe while browsing on your Mac? Paste the ingredients right to the grocery list on your iPhone.

Auto Unlock with Apple Watch - Log in before you even sit down.

Automatically log in to your Mac when you're wearing your Apple Watch. No password typing required. Need to take a quick call or step away? Get right back to work when you return.

iCloud Drive - Your desktop and Documents folder. Accessible on all your devices.

Access the files on your Mac desktop right on your iPhone. Now the files on your desktop and in your Documents folder -- where most files are saved -- can be automatically stored and updated in iCloud Drive, so you can always access them on your iOS devices and even another Mac.

Apple Pay - The web. Now accepting the easiest and safest way to pay.

Your Mac has always been the perfect place to sit down and do some serious online shopping. Now with Apple Pay in Safari, it's an even faster, easier, and more secure place to pay on the web -- because you can check out without having to enter your credit card number. Look for Apple Pay on many of your favorite sites, then complete your purchase with Touch ID on your iPhone or by double-clicking the side button on your Apple Watch. Your credit card details are never shared by Apple when you use Apple Pay, and your transactions are protected with industry-leading security.

Optimized Storage - When you need more space, let your Mac find it for you.

Storage space maxed out? No problem. macOS Sierra can help make more room by automatically storing rarely used files in iCloud and keeping them available on demand. It can also help you find and remove old files you no longer use. So the files you've used most recently stay on your Mac and there's always room for new ones.

Files you rarely need are saved in iCloud. Until you need them.

When you need more space, Optimized Storage makes room by storing infrequently used files, email attachments, photos, and previously viewed iTunes movies and TV shows in the cloud. You can easily find every file right where you saved it. Just open it up and download the original as if it was always there. Files you've used recently remain on your Mac along with optimized versions of your photos, so you can work offline.

Easily get rid of duplicate and obsolete files.

macOS Sierra can keep unneeded files from cluttering up your Mac. It prompts you to delete used app installers, and clears out duplicate downloads, caches, logs, and other unnecessary stuff. You can also easily find and delete large apps and files, or ones you simply don't use. So you can be free of clutter. It can even get rid of it for you, deleting items that have been in the Trash for 30 days.


Rediscover memories in beautiful new ways.

You've spent years capturing moments worth remembering. Now Photos can turn them into unforgettable experiences called Memories. And powerful new technologies deliver improved face recognition, display all your photos on a world map, and even allow you to search your photos by the objects and scenery in them.

Messages - Liven up the conversation.

Express yourself in fun new ways. Send a huge emoji. Respond back with a heart or a thumbs-up on a friend's message bubble. And play videos and preview links right in the conversation.

iTunes - Now with an all-new Apple Music experience.

Finding your favorite songs and discovering new ones is even simpler with the freshly redesigned Apple Music inside iTunes. The revamped For You makes it easier to discover new music and playlists we think you'll love, thanks to expert curation and advanced machine learning. The new Browse section lets everyone see the best of what's available on Apple Music, from exclusives and new releases to playlists and top charts. And now you can view lyrics while you listen in the refined MiniPlayer.

Tabs - Get all your docs in a row.

Now it's easy to keep windows from piling up on your desktop. Tabs work just as they do in Safari -- but now they work in most apps on your Mac, and in many third-party apps as well. Just update to macOS Sierra and your apps are good to go. Breeze between multiple Pages documents in full screen. And look at lots of different destinations in Maps without getting lost.

Picture in Picture - Keep one eye on what you're watching and the other on what you're doing.

Now you can float a video window from Safari or iTunes over your desktop or a full-screen app. Play the video in any corner of the desktop and resize it to see more or less of what's behind it. So you can catch up on your favorite show while you catch up on email. Or watch the big game while playing a game yourself.

When you upgrade to macOS Sierra, you get new features that make using your Mac even more efficient and enjoyable. You get all the latest security and performance updates, too. macOS is available free on the Mac App Store, so it's simple to upgrade.

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