​How to get started with the Apple Home app for macOS

Control the smart home with your Mac

How to use the Home app for macOS
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Apple Home is one of the apps making the leap from mobile to desktop with the arrival of iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 Mojave. The beta software is out now for everyone to try, otherwise you'll get the update later this year.

So how does the smart home control system work on the macOS desktop? What exactly can you do with it? Here's how to get up and running and use your Mac instead of (or as well as) your iPhone to control your HomeKit-enabled devices.

Before you start, you need to be signed into both iOS and macOS with the same Apple ID. On top of that, head to iCloud in System Preferences on your Mac and make sure the Home option is ticked so everything gets synced across.

Getting started with HomeKit

Apple's Home apps for iOS and now macOS let you control anything that has the HomeKit seal of approval—you can find a full and current list here.

We're not going to run through all of the ins and outs of setting up and running a HomeKit system in this particular article, so if you're starting from the very beginning we'd recommend reading our complete guide to HomeKit. It includes how to set it up, everything you can do with it, and more.

How to get started with the Home app for macOS

With Mojave still a few weeks from its official roll out, Apple may well add or tweak features in the meantime. Something you can't yet do in the desktop app is add new accessories—so you'll need to get them all configured on an iPhone or iPad first—and there are other features missing too, like managing a HomePod.

That caveat aside, the Home app is a lot like the one on iOS, so if you're familiar with that then you'll be right at 'home' here too. If you can't see it in your Dock or Launcher, hit Cmd+Space to launch Spotlight then type "home" to bring up the link.

Finding your way around

The three screens in the Home app for macOS match the three tabs on the Home app for iOS—Home, Rooms and Automation—and you can click through the title headings at the top to switch between them.

Under the Home heading, you should see all of the accessories you've added in iOS, as well as any scenes you've previously set up. Depending on the devices you've set up, and the default room you've set, you might see some readings displayed here, as on the Home tab in iOS: temperature and humidity from an environment sensor, for example.

How to get started with the Home app for macOS

Switch to Rooms to see the rooms you've configured in the iOS app—another feature missing at this stage is the option to create a room, but you can move between rooms configured on an iPhone or iPad with a two-finger swipe on the trackpad to the left or right, or by picking a room from the View menu.

Finally, the Automation tab, as you would expect, lets you view automations, provided you've got an iPad or Apple TV set up as a hub. You can create automations from your Mac: just click the plus button to the top right and choose Add Automation, then pick your scenes, timings, and devices accordingly.

Controlling smart home devices

Controlling devices works the same as it does with the Home app on iOS, though there are some idiosyncrasies to get your head around. In the case of a smart lightbulb, for instance, just click once to switch it on and off.

For more detailed settings (so to change the brightness or the colour in our lightbulb example), you need to Ctrl+click on a device, then choose Quick Controls (it's the same as a 3D Touch on your iPhone). The same menu lets you access a device's settings, so you can rename it, change the room it's in, and so on.

How to get started with the Home app for macOS

If you want to create new scenes, this can be done right from the Mac app. Click the plus button (top right), then Add Scene. Choose a suggested scene (like leaving home) or create a custom one, then add the accessories you want to configure when the scene's enabled.

So, for example, you might create a leaving home scene, select all of your smart devices, and put them all in an off state. The same detailed controls can still be accessed inside these dialogs, so you would Ctrl+click on a device to access temperature settings on a thermostat, for example.

Using Siri with the Home app

With the arrival of Home on macOS comes Siri control as well—Apple's voice assistant has been on the desktop since macOS Sierra launched in 2016, and it lives up on the right of the menu bar. If you can't see it, open up Siri from System Preferences, and tick the box marked Show Siri in menu bar.

In some ways Siri gives you easier access to your Home devices than the rather rudimentary app. As well as commands like "turn on the porch light" or "set the house to 30 degrees", you can launch scenes: just say the name of the scene, or tell Siri "I'm home" or "I'm leaving", for example.

How to get started with the Home app for macOS

You can also check up on the status of devices without opening the Home app—so you could try "did I lock the door?" or "is the porch light on?" depending on the devices and the setup you've got.

If you notice something missing or not working as intended, remember this is still a beta. When macOS 10.14 Mojave rolls out in full later in the year, it should have everything included in the iOS apps for iPhones and iPads.

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