OS X Yosemite hidden feature series – Part 4

The next part in this series, will focus on calling and messaging features. Remember, I am calling these ‘hidden’ features since they may not be obvious how to access them, may not be easy to understand what they do, or just not well documented directly by Apple.

New Feature 1: FaceTime iPhone Calls

What is it?

OS X Yosemite, along with iOS 8, supports Mac users making and receiving phone calls using an iPhone’s cellular connection.

No longer do you have to scramble around to find your phone when someone is calling you, you can answer the call via the FaceTime app on your Mac. You can even initiate calls from your Mac using your iPhone’s cellular connection.

How does it work?

As with most features, there is a hardware and software requirement.

Mac requirements:

  • Your Mac must be running OS X Yosemite 10.10 or later
  • Signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID as the iPhone (Check iCloud System Preferences)
  • Signed in to FaceTime using the same Apple ID as the iPhone (Check FaceTime application Preferences)
  • Connected to the same Wi-Fi network and router as iPhone to make and receive calls

iPhone requirements:

  • Your iPhone must be running iOS 8 or later.
  • Signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID as the Mac (Check Settings > iCloud)
  • Signed in to FaceTime using the same Apple ID as the Mac (Check Settings > FaceTime)
  • Connected to the same Wi-Fi network and router as the Mac

Once you have the requirements sorted, there’s just a single setting on both the Mac and iPhone to enable and you’re all set!

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > FaceTime > turn on iPhone Mobile/Cellular Calls.
  • On a Mac, open the FaceTime app and go to Preferences > Settings and tick the iPhone Cellular Calls option. You’ll be required to verify the device with a four digit code sent to your iPhone.

As long as you have done everything listed above, you can now start calls from your Mac simply by clicking the phone icon next to a phone number in Contacts, click on the phone number in Calendar, or in Safari you can highlight the number, click the drop down arrow that appears and then select ‘Call using iPhone’.

  • To receive a call, simply select Accept when the call notification appears on your Mac. You can also choose to decline the call or respond with a quick message.
  • Incoming calls will show the caller’s name, number and profile picture if stored in your Contacts.

If you start a call on your Mac, but wish to continue the call on your iPhone, you can do that too! Just tap the green bar at the top of your iPhone to transfer the call to your iPhone.

If you wish to disable this feature, just turn off iPhone cellular calls as follows:

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > FaceTime > turn off iPhone Mobile/Cellular Calls.
  • On a Mac, open the FaceTime app and go to Preferences > Settings and un-tick the iPhone Cellular Calls option.

Let’s now see it in action!

So now we know how it works, let’s see how to do it!
The following was performed using a MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012) running 10.10.2 and an iPhone 5 running iOS 8.2.

Setting up FaceTime iPhone Calls:

Step 1: Enable iPhone Cellular Calls on the iPhone (Settings > FaceTime > turn on iPhone Mobile/Cellular Calls):

setting up iphone facetime calls

Step 2: Enable iPhone Cellular Calls on the Mac (FaceTime app Preferences > Settings and tick the iPhone Cellular Calls option):

Enable iPhone Cellular Calls on the Mac

You’ll be required to verify the device with a four digit code sent to your iPhone.

Answering FaceTime iPhone Calls:

Step 1: Once a phone call has been sent to your iPhone, a notification window should appear at the top right of your screen as shown below:

Answering FaceTime iPhone Calls

Step 2: Simply click on “Accept” when the notification appears to answer the call on your Mac or “Decline” to cancel the call.

You can also click the drop down arrow to reply with a message or receive a notification reminder later so you can call the person back:

reply with message options

Making FaceTime iPhone Calls:

Step 1: To start calls from your Mac, simply click the phone icon next to a phone number in the Contacts application, or you can click on the phone number itself in Calendar. In Safari, you can highlight the number, then click the drop down arrow that appears and then select ‘Call using iPhone’:

making facetime phone calls from your mac

Step 2: Click ‘call’ to confirm and dial the number:

click call to make this call

Step 3: Select ‘Mute’ during the call so the other person can not hear you, selecting ‘End’ once the call is complete:

select mute during the call

Note: You can also start making a call directly in the FaceTime app by simply typing the number into the FaceTime search field:

make call directly from facetime app

I love this feature, it’s so useful when my iPhone is on charge in another room from where I’m sitting with my Mac!

Useful Info about FaceTime iPhone Calls

Having issues getting it to work?

Check the requirements listed above to ensure that everything is configured correctly. Also check the FaceTime settings in Notifications System Preferences to ensure you receive the notifications for incoming calls.

Want to change the FaceTime’s ringtone when receiving calls?

There are quite a few ringtone choices as you can choose any found in iOS 7 or iOS 8, there’s also a “classic” tones option from earlier versions of iOS too!

To change the Ringtone, open the FaceTime application and then open its Preferences. In the Settings tab you can choose a different tone by opening the Ringtone drop down list at the bottom:

ring tone preferences ios os x

Need to enter numbers using a telephone keypad?

If you’re using your Mac to make or receive a call and need to enter information “using your telephone keypad”, for example when calling a bank, you can simply use your Mac keyboard whilst in the FaceTime app and it will send the keyboard response to your iPhone cellular call!

You should hear the standard Dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) tones. (Just make sure you click on the call window at the top right corner of your Mac to make sure the call window is the chosen element before typing).

Do you dislike ‘floating windows’?

You’ll be pleased to hear that you can turn the floating call window into a regular window just by dragging the window away from the corner. (It will also now have the traffic light close and minimize options too!)

Apple support documentation on this feature can be found here.

New Feature 2: SMS via Messages

What is it?

The Messages app in OS X Yosemite has been updated with a few nice features.

The first to mention is the ability to work with standards text messages (SMS). Now you are not just limited to sending and receiving iMessages on your Mac, you can now text those people who chose the dark side and are using Android! 🙂

You can also start a message conversation from your Mac by clicking a phone number in apps like Safari, Contacts or Calendar.

How does it work?

Again, there is a hardware and software requirement.

Mac requirements:

  • Your Mac must be running OS X Yosemite 10.10 or later
  • Signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID as the iPhone uses for iMessage.
  • Connected to the same Wi-Fi network and router as iPhone to make and receive calls

iPhone requirements:

  • Your iPhone must be running iOS 8 or later.
  • Signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID as the Mac
  • Connected to the same Wi-Fi network and router as the Mac

Once you have the relevant requirements confirmed, there’s just a single setting on your iPhone to enable and you’re all good to go!

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages > select Text Message Forwarding, then turn on the switch alongside the name of your computer.

Let’s now see it in action!

So now we know what it does, let’s show you how it’s done!
Again, this demo was performed using a MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012) running 10.10.2 and an iPhone 5 running iOS 8.2.

Step 1: Enable Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone, (Settings > Messages > select Text Message Forwarding, then turn on the switch alongside the computer name of your Mac):

Enable Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone

Step 2: As long as your Mac and iPhone are using the same iCloud account and are on the same Wi-Fi network, you should be able to open the Messages application and start sending messages to any mobile number regardless of whether the recipient has an iPhone or not.

Either select a person in the previous history to continue an existing text chat or click the ‘Compose’ icon  to start a new conversation, selecting a person in your Contacts or entering their mobile number manually.

As with the iPhone Messages app, iMessages you send will appear in Blue, standard texts in Green.

Useful Info about SMS via Messages

The only issue I have found with this feature is that texts sometimes fail as my Mac and iPhone may auto join different Wi-Fi networks that are in range if I’ve connected to more than one in the same building. Thus the texts will not send! So just make sure before you start a text that your 2 devices are on the same network.

If you wish to disable this feature, simply turn off Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone:

Open the Settings app, go to Messages, select Text Message Forwarding, then turn OFF the switch alongside the computer name of your Mac.

New Feature 3: Voice Messaging via Messages

What is it?

Another new feature in the Messages app in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 is the ability to send short Voice clips to other iMessage users.

How does it work?

This feature is linked to iMessage, therefore an Apple ID must be signed into the Messages application.
Simply go to Messages and sign in to iMessage with your Apple ID credentials. If you do not receive the setup assistant, go to Messages Preferences > Accounts and select the iMessage account and sign in.

As long as your Microphone is enabled in Sound System Preferences, (select Internal Microphone from the Input tab), you can simply click on the Microphone icon  to the right of the iMessage text window to capture sounds and make them part of iMessage conversations.

Let’s now see it in action!

Let’s see a quick demo of how it’s done! The following was again performed using a MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012) running 10.10.2 and an iPhone 5 running iOS 8.2.

Step 1: Verify correct configuration of your internal Microphone in Sound System Preferences, (select Internal Microphone from the Input tab). Also verify iMessage setup within the Messages application by going to the Messages Preferences > Accounts and select the iMessage account.

Sign in if you are not already with your Apple ID and ensure correct details are entered into the ‘You can be reached for messages at’ and ‘Start new conversations from’ options. Full details of configuration can be found at here.

Step 2: Once you are setup, simply click on the Microphone icon to the right of the iMessage text window to capture your Microphone sound:

voice messagin ios osx

If the icon is missing, you have either not configured your Microphone or iMessage correctly, or more likely you are trying to message someone who does not have iMessage (for example, someone who has an Android phone and not an iPhone). Notice the lack of the Microphone icon below when I try and text my Mum as she has a Samsung phone!

imessage an android

Step 3: Speak into your microphone and click the red button to finish recording:

record imessage voice

Step 4: Your voice message is then compressed to make sending and receiving quicker. Once it’s ready to send the ‘Send’ button will appear, click ‘Send’ and you’re done:

send voice message osx

Useful Info about Voice Messaging via Messages

As handy as this little feature is, it only records a short piece of audio and then allows you to send it or cancel it. There is no option in between to listen to the recording before sending. So you have to assume what you said was picked up OK and was what you wanted to say!

New Feature 4: Messages Details

What is it?

OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 added another nice new feature to the Messages app. You can now view much more information about a chat participant and directly respond back to participants. For example, you can now view all images sent within a conversation between a chat participant and yourself.

How does it work?

It’s very simple. Once you have selected a chat participant in the Messages sidebar, you can click the ‘Details’ button at the top right of the chat window and a pop-out window appears providing options to interact with the recipient such as screen share, FaceTime and making a phone call.

You can also toggle ‘Do Not Disturb’ from here so that notifications from this conversation are muted, and even better, this Details window will show you all the attachments sent and received within this conversation.

Let’s now see it in action!

As before, to demonstrate this I will be using a MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012) running 10.10.2 and an iPhone 5 running iOS 8.2.

Step 1: Open the Messages app on your Mac and wait a few seconds for your accounts to log in and update any messages made with another Apple device (such as your iPhone or iPad).

Step 2: Select a chat participant’s name from the left hand sidebar to load up all conversations made between yourself and that person based on any contact details in your Contacts app. (If this person has multiple messaging accounts and phone numbers stored in your Contacts app, these are usually merged into one conversation window).

Step 3: Click on the ‘Details’ button at the top right of the chat window to open a pop-out window:

message contact details

Step 4: You should now have a list of info and options. Depending on whether the chat participant is using an Apple device and is an iMessage user or not will determine which options are available. Some may be greyed out if not available (such as FaceTime and Screen Sharing):

view contacts messages details

Step 5: If supported, you can click on the 2 overlapping squares to initiate screen sharing either by inviting the chat participant to share your screen, or asking them to share their screen:

invited to share screen os x

Step 6: You can also click on the FaceTime icon to open FaceTime and start a video chat, or click on the Phone icon to choose which phone number from the chat participant’s Contacts card to call.

As mentioned above, you can tick the box next to ‘Do Not Disturb’ so that notifications from this conversation will be muted.

Step 7: You can also view all the attachments sent and received within this conversation.
Control-clicking/Right-clicking on any of these attachments brings up some options such as ‘Open’ to open an image in Preview or perhaps a movie or audio file in QuickTime, and ‘Delete’ to remove the item from the conversation:

do not disturb phone calls osx

Useful Info about Messages Details

Nice little feature this, but I have found that if you have received an audio or video file, the preview image shown in this Details window is the generic iTunes musical note icon. You therefore have to Control-click/Right-click the attachment and open it in QuickTime before you can find out what it was.

New Feature 5: Group iMessaging Details via Messages

What is it?

Similar to Feature 4, OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 has also incorporated the Details feature into Group chats.

Group iMessage conversations also now have the Details button with a collection of nice features. All the features from a single chat conversation are there for each person in the chat: Screen Sharing, FaceTime and Phone calling, plus the ‘Do Not Disturb’ and attachment previews.

An addition for group chats is that you can share your locations with others in the group chat by leveraging the ‘Find My Friends’ service. You can therefore see a map displaying where all the participants of the chat are located!

There’s also a nice feature whereby you can give the group chat a group chat name to make it easier to remember what the chat was all about!

However, notably the best addition here for group chats is the ability to control your interaction during group conversations. As well as the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature if you no longer wish to receive notifications from an ongoing group conversation, you can also now click ‘Leave this Conversation’ to be removed entirely from the group chat.

How does it work?

This works pretty much the same as Feature 4 apart from the fact that you are viewing a group chat instead of an individual chat.

Once you have selected a group chat in the Messages sidebar, you can click the ‘Details’ button at the top right of the chat window and a pop-out window appears providing options to interact with the group recipients such as screen share, FaceTime and making a phone call.

There’s also the toggle for ‘Do Not Disturb’ so that notifications from this conversation are muted, the list of all the attachments sent and received within this conversation.

As mentioned above, group chats also have the following features : Participant location sharing, ‘Group Chat’ name and option to completely leave the group conversation.

Let’s now see it in action!

To see how this feature works, most of the steps will be the same as for Feature 4.
Once again, I was using a MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012) running 10.10.2 and an iPhone 5 running iOS 8.2 to complete this demo.

Step 1: Open the Messages app on your Mac and wait a few seconds for your accounts to log in and update any messages made with another Apple device (such as your iPhone or iPad).

Step 2: Select a ‘Group Chat’ from the left hand sidebar to load up all conversations made between yourself and all persons invited into the group chat.

Step 3: Click on the ‘Details’ button at the top right of the chat window to open a pop-out window:

grou message via imessage

Step 4: You should now have a list of info and options. Depending on whether each chat participant is using an Apple device and is an iMessage user or not will determine which options are available. Some may be greyed out if not available (such as FaceTime and Screen Sharing):

untitled group chat

Step 5: Notice right at the top of this ‘Details’ window there is an option for you to give the group chat a group chat name so you can remember what the conversation was supposed to be about!

Underneath the Group Name option, there is a map section which will attempt to locate where all the group participants are.

Remember, this will need ‘Find My Friends’ enabled on iOS and ‘Location Services’ must be also enabled for the Messages app, either in Settings > Privacy on iOS or in the Privacy tab of Security & Privacy System Preferences on OS X.

I have ensured in my demo that this feature was disabled so I would not advertise where all my colleagues were! 🙂

Step 6: You can then choose to interact directly with just one of the group participants. If supported, you can click on the 2 overlapping squares to initiate screen sharing either by inviting the chat participant to share your screen, or ask them to share their screen.

You can also click on the FaceTime icon to open FaceTime and start a video chat, or click on the Phone icon to choose which phone number from the chat participant’s Contacts card to call.

Select ‘Add Contact’ to invite a new person into the group chat.

To remove someone from the chat, you can Control-click/Right-click on their name in the list and select ‘Remove from Conversation’:

remove from imessage group chat
Notice you can also send them a Private text message or email if their Contact card in your Contacts app has the relevant mobile number or email address field configured. You can also directly switch to their Contact card in the Contacts app by selecting ‘Show Contact Card’.

Step 7: Ticking the box next to ‘Do Not Disturb’ will ensure that notifications from this conversation will be muted. This is very useful if you are involved in a group chat but need to focus on something else for a while and don’t want to keep getting the notifications every time someone replies.

As well as the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature, you can now click ‘Leave this Conversation’ to be removed entirely from the group chat:

mute notifications for this conversation

Step 8: All attachments sent and received within this conversation will be displayed at the bottom of the Details window.

Control-clicking/Right-clicking on any of these attachments brings up some options such as ‘Open’ to open an image in Preview or perhaps a movie or audio file in QuickTime, and ‘Delete’ to remove the item from the conversation.

Useful Info about Group iMessaging Details via Messages

These changes to Messages in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 have certainly made conference messaging much more flexible and easier.

I do like the ability to use the group details to start a new individual phone call, chat, or FaceTime session. The ability to add or remove participants and then carry on the chat without having to create a new chat is great, plus the location feature is a nice way to see where people are if you then want to come together and meet up in person.

If I had to give any negative feedback about this feature, it would be that as great as it is that you can leave a conversation, you cannot rejoin it later. You have to create a new conversation and add in the same participants.

Well, that’s all for now!

I hope you have found this blog and the rest of the current series useful. Even though most of these ones are not technically ‘hidden’, they are not always easy to understand or discover and I felt they therefore needed some attention.

Again, there are plenty more features out there that I have not had the time to get around to posting yet.

Don’t forget, Apple has a good overview of the main new features of OS X Yosemite on their website should you wish to see what else is out there.

Read parts 1, 2, and 3 in this series.

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

These features were tested using OS X Yosemite v10.10.2 and iOS v8.2 which were the latest Mac OS and iOS releases at the time of writing.

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