Apple releases macOS Big Sur

macOS Big Sur, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is now available to Mac users as a free software update. Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign and is packed with new enhancements for key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, as well as new privacy features. And Big Sur has been engineered, down to its core, to take full advantage of all the power of the M1 chip to make the macOS experience even better for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. The combination of Big Sur and M1 truly takes the Mac to a whole new level with incredible capabilities, efficiency, and more apps than ever before, while maintaining everything users love about macOS.

macOS Big Sur, unveiled at WWDC20, introduces a beautiful redesign and new features in Safari, Messages, and Maps.
macOS 11 Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign and new features in Safari, Messages, and Maps.

Refreshed Design: Focused and Familiar

Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips. From the curvature of window corners to the palette of colors and materials, the thoughtful design will benefit everyone from first-time Mac owners to the most demanding pros. Dock icons retain their Mac personality while also appearing more consistent across the Apple ecosystem for a more cohesive look and feel. And a new design for apps makes it easier for users to stay focused on their content and interact with apps. Buttons and controls appear when needed and recede when they are not — reducing visual complexity and bringing the most relevant content to the forefront.

The all-new Control Center gives users quick access to controls for Do Not Disturb, displays, keyboard brightness, and more, right from the menu bar. Users can see more relevant information at a glance in the updated Notification Center, including interactive notifications and redesigned widgets.

Safari: Faster, More Personal, and More Private

The biggest update to Safari since its original launch in 2003 makes the world’s fastest browser even faster while maintaining industry-leading battery life. Safari’s JavaScript engine helps it outperform other browsers on Mac and PC, and loads frequently visited sites an average of 50 percent faster than Chrome. And on new Macs with M1, Safari is now up to 1.5x speedier at running JavaScript and nearly 2x more responsive. Streaming on popular platforms is more vivid and clear with the addition of both YouTube and Netflix in 4K HDR. Redesigned tabs make navigating Safari faster and more efficient by showing more tabs onscreen, revealing page previews when hovering over tabs and displaying favicons by default for easy identification.

Safari offers an even more personal experience while browsing the web, including a new customizable start page where users can add a personal background image, Reading List, iCloud Tabs, and more. With built-in translation, Safari can detect and translate entire web pages from seven languages, and new Safari extensions are easily discoverable for download through the Mac App Store with categories including editorial spotlights and top charts.

Tabs in Safari have been redesigned to display more tabs onscreen, show favicons by default, and provide a preview of a webpage by hovering over the tab.
Tabs in Safari have been redesigned to display more tabs onscreen, show favicons by default, and provide a preview of a webpage by hovering over the tab.

Building on the browser’s pioneering user privacy features, Safari comes with an innovative new Privacy Report that gives users an instant snapshot of trackers Safari prevents from profiling them on the web. New tools like data breach password monitoring keep an eye out for saved passwords that may have been compromised — all without revealing a user’s account information, not even to Apple. And to prevent extensions from having access to the websites users visit, the tabs they have open, and, in some cases, even what they type, Safari prompts users to choose when and which websites can work with a Safari extension.

With an incredible boost in performance, amazing efficiency, new customization options, and enhanced privacy features, Safari delivers the best browsing experience on the Mac.

Messages: An Even More Engaging, Expressive Experience

Messages on the Mac offers new tools to help users manage their favorite group conversations and fun, engaging ways to express themselves. Users can pin conversations to the top of their Messages list for fast access, and search has been completely redesigned to help users quickly find links, photos, and matching terms. Messages for Mac also works seamlessly across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, so conversations stay in sync.

Users can now pin their favorite conversations in Messages at the top of the list for fast access.
Users can now pin their favorite conversations in Messages at the top of the list for fast access.

Fun effects enable Mac users to add personality to their messages with balloons, confetti, and more. Users can even create and customize Memoji right on the Mac, and express themselves with automatically generated Memoji stickers that match their mood and personality. And with a new photo picker and #images, users can easily share images, GIFs, and videos.

New group messaging features streamline interactions with family, friends, and colleagues. Inline replies give users the ability to respond directly to a message in a thread. Users can also send a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name, and choose to receive notifications only when their name is mentioned. And users can assign a photo or emoji to a conversation to further personalize their group messages.

macOS Big Sur brings a new photo picker and #images to Messages, making it easy to quickly share images, GIFs, and videos.
macOS Big Sur brings a new photo picker and #images to Messages, making it easy to quickly share images, GIFs, and videos.

Maps: Discover the Next Adventure

Maps has been entirely redesigned and brings exciting new features for exploring the world on the Mac. Users can discover places to visit and things to do with Guides from brands they trust, as well as create custom guides of favorite restaurants, parks, and vacation ideas to share with friends and family. Look Around provides an immersive 360-degree view of a destination, and new detailed indoor maps help with navigating major airports and shopping centers. And for the first time, cycling and electric vehicle trips can be routed on a Mac and sent directly to iPhone to have when on the go.

Maps gets completely redesigned in macOS Big Sur, bringing new features like Guides from trusted resources to help users discover new places and things to do.
Maps gets completely redesigned in macOS Big Sur, bringing new features like Guides from trusted resources to help users discover new places and things to do.

Privacy: Greater Transparency and User Control

Privacy is at the core of the Mac experience, and Big Sur expands on its industry-leading privacy to bring new levels of transparency and give users more control over their data. Coming later this year, the Mac App Store will include a new section on each product page showing a developer-reported summary of the privacy practices of an app. Inspired by the convenience and readability of food nutrition labels, the information offered includes the types of data the apps might collect — such as contact information, or location — and whether they are shared with third parties for tracking.

Developers: Bringing More Apps Than Ever to the Mac

With Big Sur, Apple’s community of more than 28 million developers have access to the tools they need to create amazing experiences for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Developing apps is now even easier, as macOS provides a range of incredible technologies to simplify the transition to Apple silicon. Xcode 12 makes it easy for developers to update their existing Mac apps to Universal 2 application binaries, adding native support for both M1- and Intel-based Macs within a single app. Universal apps are quite simply the fastest, most powerful Mac apps available, with access to the full power of the M1 chip. And with the Neural Engine now coming to the Mac, developers have new opportunities for amazing machine learning apps.

Rosetta 2 enables existing Intel apps not yet upgraded to Universal to run seamlessly on Macs with Apple silicon.
Rosetta 2 enables existing Intel apps not yet upgraded to Universal to run seamlessly on Macs with Apple silicon.

Rosetta 2 is the new technology in Big Sur that enables existing Intel apps not yet upgraded to Universal to run seamlessly on Macs with Apple silicon. With the power of Metal and M1, developers will see some of their most graphically demanding apps perform even better under Rosetta 2 than they did running natively on previous Macs with integrated graphics. Developers can also choose to make their iPhone and iPad apps available to Mac users without doing any extra work, so users get access to a greater range of apps than ever before. And the foundations of Big Sur are optimized to unlock the power of M1, including developer technologies from Metal for graphics to Core ML for machine learning.

When Mac Catalyst debuted with macOS Catalina last year, developers were able to easily bring their iPad apps to the Mac. Now, Mac Catalyst apps automatically inherit the new design of Big Sur, and developers get access to powerful new APIs for greater control over the look and behavior of their apps. SwiftUI also gets a major upgrade, enabling developers to write entire apps and widgets with shared code across all Apple platforms and easily add custom Mac features.

Availability

macOS Big Sur is available today as a free software update. For more information, including compatible Mac models, visit apple.com/macos/big-sur.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, it’s snappy!

macOS Big Sur-compatible Macs:

• 2013 and later MacBook Air
• 2013 and later MacBook Pro
• 2013 and later Mac Pro
• 2014 and later Mac mini
• 2014 and later iMac
• 2015 and later MacBook
• 2017 and later iMac Pro

15 Comments

    1. Also, if I view Big Sur in the Mac App Store, when I scroll down to compatibility, it says that Big Sur will work on this iMac, which is a late-2013 27″ iMac.

      … some contradictions Apple has to clarify and clean up.

      1. UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Apple. No matter what the web pages say, if you go to Big Sur on the Mac App Store and scroll down to compatibility, if it says (e.g.,) “Works on this iMac,” as it does for me – you are good to go. The App Store app is able to scan your hardware and confirm compatibility.

        1. FOLLOW-UP: I have not been able to upgrade thus far. When seeking to update, I get the error message in Software Update: “Update not found, The requested version of macOS is not available.”

          I do not know if this is due to Apple’s reported Big Sur server problems (their web site says this has been resolved), or if I simply cannot upgrade the iMac to Big Sur, even though the App Store says I can. I applied the latest Catalina update to see if it would make a difference, but I get the same error if I try to update to Big Sur.

          1. FINAL UPDATE: I spoke with Apple. Despite what the Mac App Store says (that I can use Big Sur—likely a glitch in the App Store’s criteria when checking hardware), the error indicates that I definitely cannot upgrade my late-2013 27″ iMac to Big Sur. The support person could not say what the hardware incompatibility is. I have read that it is likely the GPU not being able to process certain Big Sur code.

            Sorry for all the posts—I just wanted to close off this issue with all the information that I have been given.

            1. Actually I’m in pretty much the same boat as you-

              iMac 27″ Late 2013
              3.5 GHz quad core i7
              32 GB 1600 DDR
              NVIDIA GTX 780M 4 GB
              3 TB fusion

              Odd thing is you look at all the 2014 iMacs that are eligible and some don’t have near the horsepower (21″ base had Intel HD Graphics)

              Soooo….I may put Big Sur on a stick from my Air and use a patch.

  1. Does anyone know if Big Sur allows the latest iteration of Pages to do multi-page ( 4-page, 6-page, etc.) layouts? If I’m right, Pages ’09 was the last version to support that. Any help will be appreciated.

  2. Sadly my old original retina MBP will not be supported. I will try anyway to see if that has changed. It is a shame since that machine is still going strong. Otherwise it will remain on the current system.until I can upgrade to the new 16 inch silicon Mac.

      1. Same. Won’t download.

        Plus, my Mac spontaneously installed a Catalina supplemental update first. Thought I was getting Big Sur, but no dice.

        Hopefully Sur will download soon!

        1. I can’t install Big Sur either. Download started and ran about halfway with lots of stalls, then I got this message: “Installaion failed, an error occurred while installing the selected update.” On subsequent attempts to download, the same message pops up immediately.

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