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The 12 best features of MacOS Mojave

Dark mode, desktop stacks, Safari favicons and more.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

I haven't gotten my mitts on Mojave yet, but here are the new features that caught my attention at the MacOS Mojave portion of WWDC 2018.

Dark mode

MacOS High Sierra lets you turn your Mac's menu bar and Dock dark, but that still leaves a lot of bright screen in between the darkened top and bottom edges of your Mac's display. With MacOS Mojave, you can put the entirety of your desktop in dark mode, including your desktop wallpaper and the apps running on top of it. In the demo at WWDC, dark mode allowed photos to pop in the Photos app:

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

and Xcode looked super cool in dark mode:

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Apple's own apps will include dark mode designs, and developers can use Apple's API to create dark modes for their own apps.

Dynamic desktop

Dynamic desktop piggybacks on the dark mode concept and is more for show than anything particularly useful. But what a show! Dynamic desktop will change the lighting of your desktop wallpaper throughout the day, giving you a shot of the Mojave desert in the warm morning light, the bright afternoon light, and the cool evening light. I'll update this post once I figure out how many times dynamic desktop changes your desktop per day (the demo showed three) and how many desktop wallpapers get the dynamic treatment.

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Apple

Stacks

Are you guilty of littering your beautiful Mac desktop with files upon files upon files? So many icons! If your file organization method leaves something to be desired, then Mojave will feel like a cleaning service that picks up your mess and organizes it into tidy, little stacks. Stacks will take all of the icons strewn across your desktop and put them into -- you guessed it -- stacks. You can organize stacks by file type, date, tags and more. You can expand a stack to find a file contained within, but you can also quickly scrub a stack to locate a file to then drag into an app or attach to an email.

Apple

Gallery view for Finder

Finder has had four views -- Icons, List, Columns and Cover Flow -- seemingly forever. Mojave adds a fifth in the form of Gallery. It looks to be particularly useful for browsing photos in Finder because the preview pane shows a file's metadata and offers customizable quick actions that let you, say, rotate a photo without needing to import it to the Photos app, create a PDF, or add a watermark.

Markup tools in more places

Mojave adds Markup tools to Finder, Quick Look and screenshots, making it easier to sign a PDF or annotate a photo or screenshot. I think I'll be using Preview with less frequency with Mojave.

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New screenshot tool

Speaking of screenshots, Mojave delivers a new screenshot tool. Similar to the new screenshot workflow introduced to your iPhone ($1,829 at Apple) with iOS 11, screenshots in Mojave now give you an immediate thumbnail preview for quick annotations and sharing options. There are also new video capabilities for recording parts of your screen.

Safari finally gets Favicons

This was a throwaway line from Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, but it might become my favorite feature of Mojave. I use Chrome instead of Safari chiefly because Safari does not have favicons -- you know, those tiny icons that show up on your tabs and bookmarks bar that make the browser more visually interesting and, more importantly, act as a great aid in keeping track of which tabs are what. At the end of the MacOS Mojave portion of WWDC 2018, Federighi mentioned favicons are coming to Safari. I, for one, will greatly rejoice when they arrive.

Four iOS apps ported over to Macs

Federighi strongly denied that Apple wanted to merge iOS and MacOS, but said Apple is embarking on a multiyear project to make it easier to port apps from the iPhone to the Mac. As proof of concept, Apple brought iOS stalwarts News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home to MacOS Mojave.

Group FaceTime

FaceTime can now be PartyTime with up to 32 people on a FaceTime call.

Continuity Camera

Mojave introduces a Continuity feature. Continuity Camera lets you use your iPhone to snap a photo or scan a document and have it added directly added to a document on your Mac. You initiate the photo-taking or scanning on your Mac, your iPhone springs to life, and the photo or scan then gets added to your document. It looks to be faster than AirDrop, which it should be noted is not a slow way of importing photos and files to your Mac from your iPhone.

Under-the-hood security improvements

You can't have a tech demo in 2018 without mentioning privacy and security. Safari was hardly mentioned (aside from the aforementioned favicons), but Apple said Mojave will block ad trackers on Safari that allow an annoying shoe ad to stalk you from site to site because you spent 30 seconds looking at a pair of sneakers during your lunch break. Mojave will also make it more difficult for companies to identify your Mac based on its configuration and the fonts and plug-ins you've installed. Apple wants your Mac to look like anyone else's.

In addition, Mojave will make apps ask for permission to use your Mac's camera and microphone, like it already does for location, contacts and photos. Mojave also extends permissions to your mail database, message history, Safari data, Time Machine backups, iTunes device backups, Locations and Routines and system cookies.

Redesigned Mac App Store

The Mac App Store gets a fresh coat of paint with Mojave. And new tabs -- Discover, Create, Work and Play -- to help you find your way. Long-awaited apps are making their way to the redesigned Mac App Store, including Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Systems' Lightroom and BareBones' BBEdit editor.

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