Think of your favorite gourmet restaurant. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes to create your exquisite meal. The chef is the mastermind, directing everything from the appetizers to the desserts, ensuring that each course complements the others and delivers a memorable dining experience. That’s what macOS does: it’s the unseen chef in your Mac, creating a smooth, user-friendly, and tasty experience for every user.
macOS is the operating system for Apple’s Mac computers. It’s like the computer’s brain, managing software and hardware, providing services for apps, and creating a user-friendly interface.
- macOS 10.13 High Sierra (September 25, 2017)
- macOS 10.14 Mojave (September 24, 2018)
- macOS 10.15 Catalina (October 7, 2019)
- macOS 11 Big Sur (November 12, 2020)
- macOS 12 Monterey (October 25, 2021)
- macOS 13 Ventura (October 24, 2022)
- macOS 14 Sonoma
MacOS Examples – In-depth
macOS 10.13 High Sierra: An Unseen Yet Significant Upgrade
If we think of macOS as a mountain, High Sierra was a time when Apple wasn’t looking to increase its height, but rather dig deep, strengthening its core and polishing its rocks. Released on September 25, 2017, macOS High Sierra wasn’t about a flashy exterior makeover. Instead, it was about improving the foundational elements. Let’s hike through the features that made this macOS version an unheralded champion.
A New File System: The Heart of High Sierra
Imagine your computer is like a massive library. All your files are like books, stacked neatly on shelves. But what if the library starts to get cluttered? And the librarian is getting old, unable to sort and find books as quickly? That’s what was happening with the old file system, HFS+. In comes APFS, the Apple File System, as the new, sprightly librarian. With a knack for efficient organization, it dramatically improved the speed of common tasks like copying files or finding your documents, making your library browsing smoother than ever.
Improved Video and Graphics: The Sierra Scenery Upgrade
Ever watched a beautiful landscape video only to be interrupted by buffering or jumpy visuals? Annoying, right? Well, High Sierra made great strides to address this. It introduced support for High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265. This is like going from standard-definition TV to high-definition. It offered up to 40% better compression than the previous system, meaning your videos looked better, loaded faster, and used less storage.
And it wasn’t just video. High Sierra also took graphics to a whole new level with the introduction of Metal 2, a technology that’s like the master artist behind every visual on your Mac. From rendering everyday tasks to empowering developers to create the gaming landscapes of our dreams, Metal 2 made everything look and run better.
Polishing the Gems: System App Improvements
You know how sometimes the smallest enhancements make the biggest difference? Apple did exactly that with High Sierra. They took staple apps – Photos, Safari, Siri, and more – and gave them a tune-up.
Photos, the beloved picture library, saw new editing tools. It was like upgrading from a basic set of crayons to a full artist’s toolkit, giving your images the vibrant life they deserved. Meanwhile, Safari, your trusty internet guide, learned new tricks like blocking autoplay videos, making your online journey more pleasant.
The Mountain’s Solid Foundation
Like a steadfast mountain, macOS 10.13 High Sierra may not have drastically changed the landscape, but it provided a solid, more secure foundation. It was about going beneath the surface, strengthening the core, and polishing the gems, making Mac computing smoother, faster, and more efficient than ever. This is why High Sierra, while not the most glamorous update, still stands tall in the macOS mountain range.
macOS 10.14 Mojave: An Oasis of New Features in the Apple Desert
Released on September 24, 2018, macOS Mojave was like a rejuvenating rainstorm hitting the dry desert. It was about introducing new features and enhancements that made the Mac experience more dynamic and user-friendly. Let’s go on an expedition to unearth the treasures Mojave brought to the Mac landscape.
Dark Mode: The Night Sky of the Mojave Desert
Imagine you’re camping in the desert under a sky full of stars. The darkness is soothing, the stars bright, and you’re immersed in the serene night. That’s the kind of feeling Mojave’s Dark Mode introduced. Instead of the traditional bright screen, Dark Mode turned the Mac interface into a darker, more subtle color scheme, making it easier on the eyes and allowing your content to truly shine, like the stars against the night sky.
Dynamic Desktop: The Changing Shades of the Desert
Imagine watching the desert as the day progresses: the bright morning sunshine, the warm afternoon hues, and the serene twilight. Mojave introduced a similar feature to the Mac desktop called Dynamic Desktop. Just as the desert changes its shades, the Dynamic Desktop would alter its look based on the time of day. It was a small touch, but it added a new, charming dimension to your Mac’s personality.
Stacks: A Neat Camel Carrying Your Load
Every desert traveler knows the importance of a well-organized pack on a camel’s back. In the digital world, that’s your desktop, often cluttered with files, pictures, and documents. Enter Mojave’s Stacks, acting like a highly-efficient packing guide. It neatly organized your scattered files into related groups, decluttering your digital workspace and making it easier to find what you’re looking for.
Finder Enhancements: The Desert Guide
Your Mac’s Finder is like your guide through the vast digital desert, and with Mojave, it became even more skilled. A new Gallery View made it easier to browse through files visually, like a photographic journey. Also introduced were Quick Actions, simple shortcuts for common tasks, making your digital exploration faster and more efficient.
The Oasis of Mojave
macOS 10.14 Mojave was more than just an update; it was a refreshing rainstorm in the arid desert of technology. With features that touched every aspect of the Mac experience, from the visual appeal of Dark Mode and Dynamic Desktop to the organized convenience of Stacks and Finder enhancements, Mojave was a testament to Apple’s commitment to continuous improvement and user satisfaction. With Mojave, the Mac landscape was forever transformed, becoming an oasis of fresh, user-friendly features in the vast desert of technology.
macOS 10.15 Catalina: Sailing Towards a Seamless Digital Experience
Unveiled on October 7, 2019, macOS Catalina was akin to a grand ship embarking on a voyage towards uncharted territories of the digital ocean. With Catalina, Apple introduced new features and enhancements that expanded the horizons of Mac computing. Let’s climb aboard and explore the novelties Catalina brought to the Apple ecosystem.
Breaking Up iTunes: The Crew Members of Your Ship
Imagine a ship with a single crew member doing everything—navigation, cooking, cleaning—it would be overwhelming, right? That was iTunes: your one-stop-shop for music, videos, podcasts, and device syncing. With Catalina, Apple decided to break up iTunes into three separate apps: Music, Podcasts, and TV, each focused on delivering a specific service in a more streamlined way. It’s like having specialized crew members, each handling their tasks proficiently.
Sidecar: Your Sidekick on the Voyage
Imagine you’re on a ship and have a smaller boat tied to it, expanding your exploration capabilities. That’s what Sidecar did. It allowed you to use your iPad as a secondary display or a high-precision drawing tablet for your Mac, enhancing productivity and offering new ways of interacting with your applications. Sidecar made your digital voyage more flexible, dynamic, and creative.
Voice Control: The Captain’s Commands
Every great ship follows the captain’s commands, and Catalina took this concept to the heart of Mac computing with comprehensive Voice Control. More than just a convenience, it was a stride towards inclusivity, allowing individuals with motor impairments to navigate and interact with their Macs using only their voices. It’s like having a hands-free helm, making the sailing smooth for everyone aboard.
Project Catalyst: Charting the Course to App Diversity
Project Catalyst was like the captain’s map and compass, leading the way towards a more diverse application landscape. It made it easier for developers to port their iPad apps to Mac, resulting in an influx of applications and a richer, more diverse app ecosystem for Mac users. With Catalyst, the destination was clear: a unified and consistent Apple ecosystem.
The Voyage of Catalina
macOS 10.15 Catalina was more than an upgrade; it was a journey to redefine the Mac experience. From the breaking up of iTunes to the introduction of Sidecar, the comprehensive Voice Control, and the promising Project Catalyst, Catalina set sail towards new horizons. The voyage brought about change and expansion, showing the world the potential that lay ahead in the vast digital ocean, further cementing macOS as a pillar in the world of desktop operating systems.
macOS 11 Big Sur: An Aesthetic Voyage through the Apple Universe
On November 12, 2020, macOS Big Sur rolled out, marking a significant point in Apple’s journey. It was akin to traversing the panoramic vistas of Big Sur, California, with its breathtaking cliffs and sparkling blue waters. Big Sur wasn’t just about introducing new features—it was about transforming the Mac’s look and feel, making it more streamlined, elegant, and in harmony with the iOS and iPadOS aesthetics. Let’s journey through the scenic landscape of Big Sur.
Redesign: The Dramatic Cliffs of Big Sur
Imagine standing on the edge of a cliff, the fresh sea breeze on your face, and the endless ocean spread out before you. It’s refreshing, it’s liberating—it’s a new perspective. That’s what the redesign in Big Sur brought to your Mac. A floating dock, a sleek new system sounds, translucent menu bars, and fresh, vibrant icons gave your Mac a cleaner, more spacious, and visually delightful interface, as refreshing as the sea breeze.
Control Center and Notification Center: The Big Sur Lookout Points
Think of Control Center and Notification Center as two lookout points in the Big Sur landscape. The new Control Center, borrowed from iOS, provided quick access to frequently used settings—it’s like the binoculars at the lookout point, giving you a clear, quick view of essential controls. Meanwhile, the revamped Notification Center brought notifications and widgets together in a single column, offering a more organized and visually appealing overview, much like a well-structured tourist information board.
Safari: Your Fast and Versatile Guide
Safari on Big Sur became faster and more customizable, much like a skilled tour guide with a brand-new all-terrain vehicle. The start page could be customized with your own photos and integrated with iCloud Tabs. Privacy Report gave you an overview of trackers Safari prevented from profiling you, like a guide warning you about potential risks. Also, the addition of translation capabilities in Safari opened new doors of understanding, breaking down language barriers.
Support for Apple Silicon: The Path to the Future
With Big Sur, Apple began a transition from Intel CPUs to its own Apple Silicon chips in Macs, marking a new path in the computing landscape. Think of it as Apple crafting its own vehicles for the Big Sur journey, promising better performance, higher efficiency, and tighter integration between software and hardware. This marked a significant moment, not just for Big Sur but for the future of the Mac itself.
The Voyage through Big Sur
macOS 11 Big Sur was more than a new version of Apple’s operating system—it was an aesthetic revolution that elevated the Mac experience. From the comprehensive redesign to the powerful Safari improvements, the helpful Control and Notification Centers, and the pioneering support for Apple Silicon, Big Sur reshaped the Mac landscape. It was a journey as breathtaking and transformative as the Californian coastal stretch it was named after, offering a renewed, harmonized, and future-ready Mac experience.
macOS 12 Monterey: A Harmonious Symphony in the Apple Orchestra
Unveiled on June 7, 2021, macOS Monterey was like a master conductor taking the stage to orchestrate a symphony of features that promoted better harmony between all Apple devices. This was not just an update to the Mac; it was about strengthening the entire Apple ecosystem, allowing for a more seamless and interconnected user experience. Let’s unpack the rhythm of Monterey’s innovations.
Universal Control: The Maestro’s Baton
Imagine if a maestro’s baton could instantly move and interact across all the instruments in an orchestra. That’s what Universal Control brought to the Apple ecosystem. With a single mouse and keyboard, you could control your Mac, iPad, and other Macs, moving files and content between them as if they were one single device. It’s a level of interactivity and seamless integration that’s akin to a well-conducted symphony.
Shortcuts: The Sheet Music for Efficiency
Every musician knows the importance of a well-written sheet music to guide their performance. Shortcuts on Monterey served a similar purpose, automating daily tasks to save time and effort. It’s like having your own assistant arranging your notes, allowing you to focus on creating beautiful music— in this case, being more productive and efficient.
Focus Mode: The Solo Performance
In an orchestra, sometimes one instrument takes the center stage for a solo, with all other distractions fading into the background. That’s what Focus mode did. It allowed you to filter notifications based on what you’re doing, keeping distractions at bay and letting you concentrate on your “solo performance,” whether it’s work, personal time, or a hobby.
FaceTime Enhancements: The Symphony’s Encore
FaceTime got its own encore with Monterey, introducing spatial audio for more natural conversations, and Portrait mode to keep the focus on you. New features like SharePlay let you share music, videos, or your screen during a call, creating a shared experience. It’s like being at a concert with friends, enjoying the music together, even if you’re physically apart.
The Monterey Symphony
macOS 12 Monterey was not just a software update; it was a symphony of features, aiming for a seamless and harmonious Apple ecosystem. From Universal Control’s innovative integration to the efficiency of Shortcuts, the concentration-friendly Focus mode, and the social enhancements of FaceTime, Monterey orchestrated a symphony of improvements. It marked a new phase in Apple’s journey, one where all devices worked together in perfect harmony, creating a seamless, delightful user experience.
As we’ve navigated through the landmarks of macOS High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur, and Monterey, we’ve witnessed an ongoing journey of innovation, enhancement, and harmony. Each version has marked a unique milestone in Apple’s quest to offer a powerful, user-friendly, and interconnected digital environment.
From simple refinements to groundbreaking features, Apple’s macOS has consistently evolved, striving to enhance the user experience, maintain robust security, and foster seamless synergy among all Apple devices. As we anticipate the next chapter in this saga, it’s clear that the landscape of macOS is as vibrant and dynamic as ever, offering an exciting frontier in the realm of computing.
How to stay safe online:
- Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
- Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
- Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
- Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions.
Why does Apple name its macOS versions after Californian landmarks?
Apple decided to name its macOS versions after Californian landmarks as a tribute to its home state and to represent the beauty and complexity of their operating systems. Each release name carries a theme or message related to the key features or philosophy of that specific version.
What is the significance of macOS Big Sur being version 11 instead of 10.x?
macOS Big Sur being designated as macOS 11 represents a significant shift in Apple’s operating system. Not only did Big Sur introduce a comprehensive redesign that made macOS resemble iOS and iPadOS more closely, but it also marked the start of Apple’s transition from Intel CPUs to its own Apple Silicon chips.
Can I upgrade my older Mac to the latest macOS?
The ability to upgrade depends on your Mac model and its hardware specifications. Each macOS version has specific system requirements, and older models may not support newer versions. It’s always recommended to check Apple’s official compatibility lists before attempting an upgrade.
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
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