Apple released the second major update to Monterey on 13 December 2021. macOS Monterey 12.1 brings a selection of new features including SharePlay, Apple Music Voice Plan, Digital Legacy, new options in Memories in Photos, and some bug fixes. Read on to find out more, including whether you should install it.

macOS 12.1 is here now!

macOS Monterey 12.1 arrived on Monday 13 December alongside iOS 15.2 which adds many of the same new features.

Can't see macOS 12.1?

A bug was preventing M1 Macs from seeing the macOS 12.1 update. We explain what to do if you can't see it here: Bug prevents M1 Macs from seeing macOS 12.1 update.

How to update to macOS 12.1

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Software Update.
  3. Your Mac will spend a minute of so checking for updates, if an update is available for your Mac you'll have the option to click on Upgrade Now and then download the installer for the update to macOS.
  4. While the installer is being downloaded you will be able to continue to use your Mac. Once the installer has downloaded you can click to install the new update.

You can also set your Mac to automatically update. For details of how to do that, and more information about updating macOS, read: How to update macOS.

What's in macOS 12.1?

The macOS 12.1 update brings some of the previously announced features that didn't initially make it into Monterey to Mac users, of which there are a few.

However, not all the new features Mac users are waiting for have arrived in this update. One of the most eagerly awaited and as yet unavailable features is Universal Control, which will make it possible to use the same mouse or trackpad to select your Mac screen, type on your Mac with the keyboard, and then select your iPad screen with the same mouse and type there. Apple had said that feature would arrive "this fall/autumn" but now it has officially delayed Universal Control until the spring of 2022.

However, there are some exciting new features in macOS Monterey 12.1:

Shareplay

Shareplay makes it possible for a group of people to watch series and movies together on their different devices and at their different locations.

SharePlay works with Apple TV and Apple Music and support for other services is expected, although third-parties will be responsible for adding it.

TV app

Changes to the TV app will let users browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place.

iCloud+ Hide My Email

Another new feature that appears in macOS 12.1 relates to iCloud+.

When sending an email you will be able to hide your own email address. Instead the iCloud server will creates an alias for you so you don't need to share your address. If the recipient responds to such an anonymized mail, iCloud will automatically forward the email to the original address.

iCloud subscribers will be able to use Hide My Email from within the Mail app on their Mac following the update.

Legacy contacts

It will be possible to specify contacts who will be able to access your accounts in the event of death. This will make it so much easier for relatives or friends to access digital photographs and other personal content.

It will also possible to specify who should be able to help access an account in the event of a forgotten password. This feature is called Account Recovery Contacts.

Photos

Apple has made some changes to the Memories tools in Photos. These now have a more interactive interface, new animation and transition styles, and multiple image collages. There are also new Memory types including additional international holidays, child-focused memories, trends over time, and improvements to pet memories.

Apple Music Voice Plan

Apple announced a cut price version of Apple Music back in October, but until now there was no sign of it. That's now changed - the service is now available. It's half the price of the usual subscription to Apple Music at £4.99/$4.99 per month, but there are some limitations and you'll be completely reliant on Siri to control playback. You can expect this subscription service to arrive with the next update to Monterey.

Child safety

There are a couple of changes with child safety in mind. In the Messages app new communication safety setting allow parents to enable warnings if children receive or send photos that contain nudity.

Also changes to Siri, Spotlight and Safari Search aim to keep children stay safe online.

Bulk rename or delete tags

It will be possible to rename or delete all your tags in the Reminders or Notes app.

Graphics card support

macOS Monterey 12.1 adds support for AMD's Radeon 6600XT GPU.

Bug fixes

Apple has also fixed some bugs in existing functions. For example, saving the Safari extensions locally did not work for some extensions, and some people were experiencing YouTube crashes while playing HDR video. Both of these issues are addressed in the update.

The update also address a MagSafe charging problem experienced by some new MacBook Pro owners, and an issue with charging a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro when connected to an external display. An issue with an unresponsive trackpad is also addressed.

Those who have a 14in or 16in MacBook Pro will find that items in their menu bar are no longer obscured by the notch.