Learn macOS 10.12 Sierra with Mac expert and former Macworld editor Scholle McFarland!

Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course

Scholle McFarland

You can head off into the wilds of Sierra with confidence when you’re equipped with Mac expert Scholle McFarland’s detailed what’s new list. She also teaches you new Sierra features like Siri, app tabs, Desktop and Documents folder syncing, Optimized Storage, Universal Clipboard, and Picture in Picture. Still, our favorite chapter is Discover the Little Things in Sierra, which covers the tiny changes that make a big difference.

This product has been discontinued.

Head into the wilds of Sierra with confidence with the detailed “What’s New in Sierra” list found this this Crash Course. You’ll also learn about big new Sierra features like Siri, app tabs, Desktop and Documents folder syncing, Universal Clipboard, and Apple Pay in Safari. Particularly important is the book’s discussion of Optimized Storage, which can save a lot of space on a Mac with a small drive, but should be enabled only when you understand its implications.

Our favorite chapter is “Discover the Little Things in Sierra,” which explains keeping folders on top of file listings, new text shortcut features, link and video previews in Messages, Picture in Picture, and the somewhat involved steps for setting up Auto Unlock with an Apple Watch. Also, don’t miss Scholle’s troubleshooting advice, which covers a wide range of misbehavior, from a frozen app to a frozen Mac.

You’ll also benefit from the book’s coverage of core Mac topics. Thanks to a magazine-like layout with lots of steps, lists, and screenshots, you can find just the info you need, whether it involves understanding iCloud Drive, managing your menu bar effectively, configuring Notification Center to be useful, getting the most out of your Finder window’s sidebar, dealing with the Dock, pinning tabs in Safari, or any of a myriad of other helpful subjects.

Whether you want to browse for a few tips or go deep, you’ll learn about…

  • The hidden trick to getting your Mac to respond to “Hey, Siri!”
  • All the things Siri can do for you on the Mac
  • Improving your writing with Sierra’s new text shortcuts
  • How to watch a video—even from YouTube!—while you pretend to get work done
  • The steps necessary to set your Apple Watch up to unlock your Mac automatically
  • Using Apple Pay with an iPhone—while shopping online in Safari on your Mac
  • How to sort folders on top of files in Finder windows… Or not.
  • The best ways to work with Sierra’s new tabs in apps beyond Safari and the Finder
  • Using Handoff to move a task from your Mac to your iPhone, or vice-versa
  • Moving data between your Apple devices with Universal Clipboard
  • Understanding where your Desktop and Documents folders go when synced
  • How you access synced Desktop and Documents folders from other devices and older Macs
  • How to set up Finder window sidebar favorites, and where to find those same favorites in a Save dialog
  • What to do if your Mac won’t turn on, if you get the spinning beachball of death, or if you need to repair your disk—and how to easily find out if your Mac still has AppleCare
  • And much more!

Crash course? As part of our Crash Course series, this book splits the first-rate content you expect from us into short chunks so you can dip in and read quickly. Take Control Crash Courses have a modern, magazine-like layout in PDF while retaining a reflowable design in the EPUB and Mobi versions.

Scholle McFarland

About Scholle McFarland

Scholle McFarland has been covering the Mac since 1996 as an editor at MacUser magazine and then Macworld. During that time, she witnessed Apple transform from everyone’s favorite “doomed” company to everyone’s actually favorite company and is still amazed by the whole thing.

When she’s not working, Scholle (“Sholly”) likes to hang out with her family, friends, and many animals in beautiful Portland, Oregon.

Version 1.1 of this book adds chapters about several Sierra-related topics:

  • Spotlight: Find More Faster with Spotlight provides a refresher on how to use the Mac’s built-in search engine and looks at When to Use Siri Instead.

  • Menu bar: The menu bar has been on the Mac since the beginning, but Apple is still tweaking how it works. Learn about new and old features in Master the Menu Bar.

  • Mission Control: Explore Apple’s Mission Control system for quickly moving among and organizing your windows in Command the View.

  • Finder window sidebar: This sidebar can help you reach your files and folders more efficiently, both in the Finder and in the Open and Save dialogs. Learn all about it in Customize the Finder Window Sidebar.

  • Notes: The Note Your Thoughts chapter provides a guide using Notes, including a look at the new collaboration feature in New! Share Notes with Others.

  • AirDrop: Back by popular request, this chapter reviews system requirements and helps you share files and data with other Apple users (or among your own devices). See Share Files with AirDrop (and More).

You’ll also find the following bits of new information:

  • The Safari chapter now includes a sidebar, Bring Back a Minimum Size for Safari Text, about how to set a minimum text size for Web pages—a feature that Apple removed in Sierra to the chagrin of all of us with limited vision or old eyes.

  • New instructions for how to Filter Your Email with Mail’s new preset filters.

  • The topic Store files from Desktop and Documents folders in iCloud Drive is expanded to include more advice and information. In particular, see the bullet point, “From another Sierra Mac” and the warning about Dropbox and iCloud syncing (hint, don’t mix them on the same folders).

  • A mention of the new Download Attachments pop-up menu in Mail that lets you choose to keep only recent attachments locally—see Store Fewer Attachments Locally. Plus, the book now describes this setting’s relationship to the Optimize Storage feature.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Yosemite Quick Start
  • What’s New in Yosemite?
  • Take Control of Yosemite’s Look
  • Cut Clutter with Finder Tabs
  • Get Organized with Finder Tags
  • Find More Faster with Spotlight
  • Keep Current with Notification Center
  • Update Your Safari Smarts
  • Do More with Mail
  • Keep Connected with Messages
  • Stay Up to Date with Calendar
  • Navigate iCloud Drive
  • Move Easily between Devices with Handoff
  • Turn Your Mac into a Speakerphone
  • Share Files with AirDrop
  • Avoid Problems with User Accounts
  • Get Help from OS X Recovery
  • About This Book
  • Sierra Users: Don’t Edit PDFs in Preview

    Posted by Josh Centers on January 4, 2017

    macOS 10.12 Sierra has been plagued with PDF problems. First, there were problems with PDFs created using ScanSnap scanners, but those issues turned out to be relatively mild and Apple addressed them in the 10.12.1 update.

    Unfortunately, 10.12.2 Sierra ushered in even more troubling issues with PDFs. Developers have reported a number of PDFKit problems, most notably the OCR text layer being deleted when manipulated by apps using PDFKit, including Preview. The main takeaway is that you shouldn’t use Preview to edit PDFs until these issues are resolved, hopefully in 10.12.3. In the meantime, if you have to edit a PDF, either work only on a copy, just in case, or consider investing in Smile’s PDFpen, which annotates and edits PDFs independent of Apple’s PDFKit.

    For more about this problem, read the TidBITS article Sierra PDF Problems Get Worse in 10.12.2.

    [Fixed? In the release notes for the 10.12.3 Sierra update, which were made available on January 23rd, Apple says that the update “fixes an issue that prevented the searching of scanned PDF documents in Preview.” Other PDF-related problems appear to remain in Preview, so continue to work with caution even after you install this update. See Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.3, iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1, and watchOS 3.1.1, in TidBITS, for more information. —Tonya, 1/24/2017]

    October 6, 2016 — Now that we've published version 1.1 of this book, adding 39 pages of content and even more thoroughly describing 10.12 Sierra, we are hoping that the title won't need another update.

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