Is it worth it to upgrade to Monterey from Big Sur?

macOS Monterey is the latest version of Apple’s desktop operating system that was first made available to the public in October 2021. It is the successor to macOS Big Sur, which was released in 2020. Monterey introduces a variety of new features and enhancements to improve the overall user experience on Mac computers. Some of the key features in Monterey include Continuity Camera, Live Text, Universal Control, a redesigned Safari web browser, and more. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of Monterey’s new additions and discuss whether it’s worth upgrading from the previous version, Big Sur.

macOS Big Sur represented a major visual redesign for the Mac operating system with a refreshed aesthetic and customization options. It also brought improvements like widget support, a new Control Center, faster performance, and better integration with other Apple devices. However, Big Sur was light on major new features compared to previous macOS releases. With Monterey, Apple has focused more on introducing compelling new capabilities for users.

Performance Improvements

One of the biggest improvements in macOS Monterey is faster performance, especially at launch and resume times for apps and the overall system [1]. Apple focused on optimizing how apps launch by preloading some information to make them open instantly. For example, Safari launches over 50% faster now. The system overall is much more responsive as well. Users mention up to 2x faster wake from sleep times [2].

Monterey also improves power efficiency compared to Big Sur, getting better battery life especially during video playback and other graphics intensive tasks. Apple optimized the way the OS handles GPU scheduling and memory so it doesn’t waste power on background operations. Users can expect to get at least an hour or two more during typical use from a full charge [3].

Continuity Camera

One of the biggest new features in macOS Monterey is Continuity Camera, which allows you to use your iPhone as a webcam for your Mac [1]. This enables the high-quality cameras on the iPhone to be leveraged for video conferencing, live streaming, and more on the Mac.

To use Continuity Camera, your iPhone needs to be near your Mac, locked, stable, positioned with the rear cameras facing you unobstructed, and in landscape orientation [1]. Both devices also need to be signed into the same Apple ID with Handoff enabled.

Once set up, any app that uses the Mac’s webcam like FaceTime, Zoom or Skype will automatically switch to using the rear iPhone cameras. A key benefit of this is Center Stage, where the ultra-wide camera automatically pans and zooms to keep you in frame as you move around [1].

Overall, upgrading to Monterey enables seamless use of the iPhone’s excellent camera system as a webcam on the Mac. This provides a much better video conferencing experience compared to most built-in Mac webcams.

Universal Control

One of the most exciting new features in Monterey is Universal Control, which allows you to use a single mouse/trackpad and keyboard to control multiple Macs and iPads at the same time ( This makes it easy to move between devices without having to switch peripherals back and forth. For example, you can be working on your MacBook, then seamlessly slide your cursor over to control and type on your nearby iMac or iPad without missing a beat.

To set up Universal Control, make sure all your devices are signed into the same Apple ID through iCloud and are on the same WiFi network. You’ll then enable Universal Control in System Preferences on each device. Once configured, you’ll be able to move your pointer from one screen to another as if they were connected. The keyboard follows the pointer, so you can start typing on one device and finish on another. Files can also be dragged and dropped between devices.

Overall, Universal Control makes using multiple Apple devices together feel more cohesive. It’s especially great for creative workflows where you want to move content seamlessly between your Mac, iPad, and iPhone ( For those with an existing Apple ecosystem, it’s a compelling reason to upgrade to Monterey.

AirPlay to Mac

One of the biggest new features in macOS Monterey is the ability to use your Mac as an AirPlay receiver to stream content from your iPhone or iPad directly to your Mac display (1). This allows you to stream videos, photos, music, and more to your Mac without any wires.

To use AirPlay to Mac, you first need to make sure the feature is enabled on your Mac. Go to System Settings > General and enable AirPlay Receiver (2). Once enabled, your Mac will show up as a target option when using AirPlay from an iOS device.

To stream content to your Mac, simply swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone or iPad to access the Control Center. Tap on the AirPlay icon, then select your Mac from the list of available devices. Anything playing on your iOS device will now stream directly to your Mac’s display (3).

AirPlay to Mac is a convenient new continuity feature in Monterey that makes it easy to share content from your iPhone or iPad. No longer do you need to rely on wires or third-party apps. Just enable AirPlay receiving on your Mac and start wirelessly streaming videos, photos, presentations, and more in seconds.

Safari Redesign

One of the biggest changes in Monterey is a complete redesign of Safari. The new version features a streamlined new tab page and new tab grouping capabilities for easier organization.

The new tab page now has a clean design that simply shows your background image, frequently visited sites, and Siri suggested sites. Apple got rid of the old Favorites view. You can still access your Bookmarks by clicking the bookmarks icon in the toolbar.

Safari also adds a useful new Tab Groups feature that lets you save and organize tabs into groups. You can name the groups, assign color icons, and quickly access the tabs later. Tab Groups sync across your Apple devices so you can easily pick up where you left off. This is great for juggling multiple projects and topics.

Live Text

Live Text is a powerful new feature in Monterey that allows you to interact with text in photos. You can copy text directly from an image and paste it elsewhere. This is useful for extracting text from screenshots, photos of documents, signs, whiteboards, and more.[1]

To use Live Text, open an image in the Preview app and hold your pointer over the text. You’ll see the text become highlighted. Then you can drag to select the text and copy or look up the selected text. Looking up text will launch a web search, opening Safari to show you relevant information about whatever you selected.

Live Text makes text in images editable and actionable. You no longer have to manually type out text you see in a photo. With a simple click or drag, you can copy text as if it was digital content. This speeds up workflows and eliminates tedious retyping.[2]

Visual Lookup

Visual Lookup1 is a new image recognition feature in Monterey that allows you to learn more about objects, landmarks, pets, plants, and other things in your photos. When you right click on an image in Finder or Photos, you’ll see the option to Look Up. Selecting this will open a sidebar with information identifying what’s in the picture.

For example, if you use Look Up on a photo containing the Golden Gate Bridge, it may identify the landmark and provide a short description and history. The same goes for recognizing dog or cat breeds, types of flowers and trees, logos, artwork, and more. Visual Lookup leverages machine learning to quickly provide details about photographed items and scenes.

This can be helpful for learning more about vacation photos, figuring out an unfamiliar plant or animal, or just SATISFYING YOUR CURIOSITY about objects around you. It allows you to extract more value from your pictures. Overall, Visual Lookup makes it easy to identify and learn about things you’ve photographed on your Mac.

Shortcuts App

One of the most useful new features in macOS Monterey is the new Shortcuts app. Shortcuts allows you to automate tasks and workflows on your Mac using a simple drag-and-drop interface 1. You can easily create powerful automations to streamline your work and save time.

For example, you can create a shortcut to open your most commonly used apps and documents at the start of your workday with just one click. Or automate complex multi-step workflows like uploading images to your website or posting to social media. The possibilities are endless.

Another great aspect of Shortcuts on the Mac is that it syncs seamlessly with the Shortcuts app on iOS. This allows you to access all your shortcuts on iPhone and iPad directly on your Mac. You can continue working on shortcuts started on iOS, or use shortcuts created on your devices seamlessly on your Mac. This brings the power of iOS automation to the desktop.2

Overall, the Shortcuts app is a major upgrade for power users and automation workflow in macOS Monterey. It saves you time on repetitive tasks and lets you take your iOS automations even further on your Mac.


Monterey offers several noteworthy improvements and new features compared to Big Sur that make upgrading worthwhile for many users.

Key highlights include performance enhancements through the use of on-demand memory and SSD storage, Continuity Camera for using iPhone as a webcam, Universal Control for seamless control of multiple Apple devices, AirPlay to Mac for effortless wireless streaming, and a redesigned Safari with new tab design. Monterey also introduces innovative capabilities with Live Text, Visual Lookup, and an updated Shortcuts app.

For Mac users still on Big Sur, upgrading to Monterey is recommended to take advantage of the meaningful updates in overall system performance, continuity features with other Apple devices, and intuitive new capabilities for tasks like live text extraction and quick information lookup. The redesigns and improvements make Monterey a worthwhile upgrade for most Big Sur users.