All the best macOS Sonoma tips and tricks you need to know

Apple’s macOS Sonoma is full of great features, including many of the features that Apple hyped when it unveiled the operating system at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2023. If you want to get the most out of macOS Sonoma, it’s a good idea to know a few Useful tips and tricks to improve your experience.

From quickly hiding windows and showing the desktop to saving websites to your Dock for quick access, macOS Sonoma is packed with smart extras that make a big difference in everyday use. Here, we’ve rounded up eight of the best tips and tricks that will make using macOS Sonoma better than ever.

Looks picture perfect

Continuous Camera on macOS Sonoma, showing the Portrait mode slider in the menu bar app.
Digital Trends

Continuity Camera lets you use your iPhone as a webcam on your Mac. In macOS Sonoma, Apple has changed this system to give you more control over how it works and what you see on the screen.

For example, you can manually position yourself in the frame during a video call. To do this, make sure Continuous Camera is running, then select it FaceTime icon in your menu bar. Disabled Center Stage, then hover your mouse over the video preview – you’ll see the zoom scale. Drag this to zoom in and out, or click and drag elsewhere in the preview to move the center of the frame. Choose Recently to reframe yourself in the center of the image.

You can also change the depth of field by selecting FaceTime icon in the menu bar, then select Dropdown arrow next to Portrait. Here, you can drag the slider to change the strength of Portrait mode’s depth of field effect.

Extended Visual Search

Extended Visual Search in macOS Sonoma.  A user is looking for a recipe involving pizza, which is pictured.
Alex Blake / Digital Trends

Visual Look Up allows you to find more information about your image and video content. In macOS Sonoma, Apple has expanded this in a number of useful ways. For example, you can now find food recipes in your photos — just open the Photos app, right-click an image containing a food, then select it Search for Food in the context menu.

Likewise, you can find directions to the store, learn what signs mean, and decipher symbols on laundry labels, all by using Visual Look Up in the Photos app. It even works for photo frame content in your videos.

Video wallpapers and screen savers

MacOS Sonoma screen storage
Alex Blake / Digital Trends

This year, Apple introduced video wallpaper and screen saver that blend seamlessly with each other: when your screen saver starts, the camera starts from your background image and flies through the air or under water. When you end the screen saver, the video slows down and changes to a new still image. This is a nice little addition to the operating system.

Enabling or disabling this feature may seem a little confusing, as the wallpapers used have both stationary and moving versions. To enable video wallpaper, go to System settings application and select wallpaper in the sidebar. Choose a Dynamic background (indicated by the play icon), then activate it Show as screen saver switcher. You can also do this by opening System Settings > Wallpaperwhere you need to activate Show as wallpaper toggle.

Desktop widgets

Widgets moved into place in macOS Sonoma.  A placement grid is displayed below the widget.
Widgets moved into place in macOS Sonoma. A placement grid is displayed below the widget. Digital Trends

While widgets have been in Notification Center for years, macOS Sonoma sees it make the jump to your desktop. Best Desktop widgets are interactive, letting you check off reminders or play a podcast without having to open the widget’s associated app.

Once you’ve taken some widgets with you on the go, you can change how they look and work by opening them System settings and choose Desktop & Dock > Widgets. From here, you can change the style of the widget to keep it in full color or go monochrome when you open another app.

Under Show Widgetsuncheck On the Desktop checkbox to hide the widget when you open another app (it reappears when you display the desktop), or check it to show it permanently. And if you enable it Use the iPhone widget checkboxYou can add widgets from apps installed on your iPhone, but not from your Mac, putting more options at your fingertips.

Quickly display your desktop

Users display the desktop in macOS Sonoma by clicking on the wallpaper.  The two open windows moved aside, revealing the desktop.
Alex Blake / Digital Trends

Showing your desktop used to be a bit tricky on macOS — you had to minimize all your apps one by one, or press Mission Command+ControlI (or Command+F3), which is not the easiest shortcut to reach.

Now things are simpler. Open System Settingss and go to Desktop & Dock > Desktop & Stage Manager. Next to Click the wallpaper to display the desktopchoose Always from the drop-down menu. This means you can simply click on the wallpaper and all open windows will disappear. To disable it, just select it Only in Stage Manager from the drop-down menu.

Save websites as apps to your Dock

macOS Sonoma.

Sometimes, you might wish a website worked more like an app you can quickly access on your Mac. Luckily, macOS Sonoma has introduced a way to make this happen. First, visit the site you want to save in Safari (doesn’t work in other browsers) and click File > Add to Dock. Name the web application and select it Add. This adds it to the Dock.

While you can remove websites from the Dock, they can still be accessed in Launchpad if you want to add them back to the Dock. If you want to change the app settings, open the web app, then Select its name in the menu bar, then Arrangement. Here, you can change its name and web address, adjust its privacy settings, and more.

The best candidates for saving websites to your Dock are sites that you use like apps, like Pinterest or games. For websites that you might read for a while before moving on — like news sites — the appeal may not be as strong, but you still have the option to save them as apps if you want.

Share passwords and passkeys with contacts

Shared password introductory dialog box in macOS Sonoma.
Alex Blake / Digital Trends

Sometimes, you will share a website or application account with other people. Instead of sending each other passwords insecurely via email or messaging app, there’s a new feature in macOS Sonoma that makes things easier and more secure.

Open System settings and select Password in the sidebar, then enter your Mac account password. Click the + button, then select New Shared Group. Enter a group name and add members. Group members must be running macOS Sonoma, iOS 17, or iPadOS 17.

Now, select the password you want to share by checking the box to the left of it. When you have selected each password you want to share, select it Move. If you want to add more passwords later, click System Settings > Passwordselect your group, then select + > Move Password to Group.

This makes the password accessible to anyone in the group, saving everyone time. To stop sharing passwords, go to your group, select I button, then select Drop-down menu next to Groups. Instead of your group name, select My Passwords > Move to My Passwords.

Game mode

Game mode for macOS Sonoma

The Mac gaming star is on the rise right now, with our reviewer dubbing it the newest one The 14-inch MacBook Pro is a “decent gaming laptop” and more and more AAA games are moving to macOS. To help address this new status quo, Apple has introduced new features to macOS Sonoma that provide improvements.

It’s called Game Mode, and the idea is to improve performance by stabilizing frame rates and prioritizing your gaming over other tasks. It’s activated whenever you launch a full-screen game — whether it’s in exclusive full-screen mode, a maximized window, or something else — so there’s not much you need to do in that regard.

However, sometimes you may want to disable or enable it manually. To do this, make sure Game Mode is running by searching Game controller icon in your menu bar while a full screen game is running and selecting it. Then select Turn off Game Mode. Your preferences are remembered, so Game Mode will remain disabled the next time you run the game.

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