macOS home app

The macOS Home app lets you control lights and other HomeKit-compatible smart devices from your computer. Although the app is similar to the iOS version, it does have a critical limitation that could make it less than optimal for some users. Here’s how to use it.

macOS Home app

With the macOS Home app, you can control your existing HomeKit-enabled accessories from one location. What you cannot do is add new accessories to your Wi-Fi connection using the app. Instead, you must do this using the Home app for iOS or the accessory’s iOS app.

No doubt, Apple will eventually remove this limitation. For now, however, it’s something important to consider.

The first time you launch the Home app for Mac, you need to give permission to connect to iCloud. Once this occurs, all the HomeKit accessories on your network will show up on the app.

The macOS Home app is divided into three main sections: Home, Rooms, and Automation. At the top left of the app, you’ll notice a pull-down box that’s represented by a House icon. Click on this to see list other rooms in your home.

In the example below are the following rooms: Basement, Bedroom, Foyer, Kitchen, Living Room, and the Default Room.

Home and Room selections

Under Home for the Default Room, you’ll see boxes representing y0ur Favorite Scenes and Favorite Accessories. Until Rooms, you’ll see Scenes and Accessories.

Scenes are typically groups of lights that are installed on your home network. Depending on the type, each Accessory is marked as On, Off, and No Response.

Right-clicking on any of the boxes will bring up specific information about each item. In the following examples, you can see more details about a scene and accessory, respectively.

Settings vary by the type of scene or accessory. However, most contain at least the following parameters:

  • With Test This Scene, you can demo a Scene and see how it looks.
  • Add or Remove Accessories is where you can add and remove.
  • The Include in Favorites toggle allows you to add accessories to the Favorite Accessories list on the Default Room.
  • There’s also the ability to Delete Scene.

On each of the Rooms, although you can’t add new accessories to the macOS Home app, you can add new Scenes by clicking on the “+” at the top right hand of the screen and choosing “Add Scene.”

These Scenes are contingent on the type of accessories.

Here’s an example of adding a Scene:

Siri

As you can do with the iOS version, you can use Siri with the macOS Home app. In doing so, you can use the voice assistant to control lights, thermostats, and other accessories and scenes.

Depending on your accessories, here are some things you can say to Siri:

  • “Turn off the lights” or “Turn on the lights.”
  • “Dim the lights” and then say “Set brightness to 55 percent.”
  • “Is the hallway light on?”
  • “Set the temperature to 68 degrees.”
  • “Did I lock the front door?”
  • “Close the garage door.”

If you set up rooms, scenes, or more than one home, you can say things like:

  • “I’m home” or “I’m leaving.”
  • “Turn down the kitchen lights.”
  • “Turn on the fan in the office.”
  • “Set my reading scene.”
  • “Turn off the lights in the Tahoe house.”

Note: Use Siri with the macOS Home app like you would with other Mac apps.

Automation

Under Automation, you can have your accessories react to changes at home. Click the +” at the top right-hand side of the screen and choose “Add Automation.”

Once again, the type of Automation you select is based on the kind of Accessories you’re using in your home. In the example below, you can choose lighting-based Automation where accessories turn on/off based on your physical location, time of day, or more.

Is this useful?

As a long-time HomeKit user, I’m glad to see Apple introduce a macOS Home app. Nonetheless, it feels like a half-baked product in its current form, and I wonder if it’s even necessary.

Isn’t it easier and more convenient to use the Home app for iOS where things are mobile? I believe that it is. Perhaps in time, this will change.