macOS 11 Big Sur is now available to the general public. The Big Sur update can be downloaded to a compatible Mac via the Software Update section of System Preferences. Like all Mac updates, the macOS Big Sur update is available free of charge. The update is also available in the Mac App Store.
The macOS Big Sur update is compatible with the following Macs:
- 2015 and later MacBook
- 2013 and later MacBook Air
- 2013 and later MacBook Pro
- 2014 and later Mac mini
- 2014 and later iMac
- 2017 and later iMac Pro
- 2013 and later Mac Pro
The update brings a number of new features to the Mac, including a refreshed interface, widget support, a new Control Center, and big changes to Apple’s flagship browser, Safari.
Big Sur delivers a new interface, designed to make navigation easier. Apple has changed the curvature of window corners, as 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.
Apple says the Safari update is the biggest since it originally launched in 2003. The new version of the browser brings improved speed and battery life, and loads sites an average of 50 percent faster than Chrome.
Safari tabs have been redesigned to make navigation faster by displaying more tabs on-screen, while favicons allow users to more easily identify open tabs, while giving users a preview of a page by hovering the mouse pointer over a tab.
The new version of Safari also brings start page customization, with a background image as well as sections like iCloud Tabs and Reading Lists. Safari’s built-in translation features can detect and translate entire webpages from seven languages with just a click.
Improved support for extensions is available, and privacy is improved by the ability for users to choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with. The new version also offers privacy tools like data breach password monitoring.
The new Mac Messages app offers users the ability to pin favorite conversations to the top of their messages list for fast access, and search has been entirely redesigned with the organizing of results into links, photos, and matching terms.
Message effects now include balloons, confetti, and more. Users can now create and customize their Memoji on the Mac, and express themselves with Memoji stickers to match their mood and personality. A new photo picker allows easy sharing of images, GIFs, and videos.
New group messaging features are designed to streamline interactions with friends, family, and colleagues. Inline replies enable users to respond directly to a message, and now they can direct a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name. Users can now set a photo or an emoji for their group conversation that’s shared with all members of the group.
The Maps app has been completely redesigned in macOS Big Sur, with new discovery and guides features. Guides are available from trusted resources, or users can create custom guides of favorite restaurants, parks, and vacation spots that can be shared with friends and family.
Look Around offers a 360-degree view of destinations, while detailed indoor maps of major airports and shopping centers are also available. Cycling and electric vehicle trips can now be routed on a Mac and sent directly to your iPhone.
Mac App Store Privacy
macOS Big Sur offers users more transparency and control over their data. New privacy information, coming later this year, detailed in the Mac App Store will help users understand the privacy practices of apps before downloading them, including the types of data the apps might collect — such as usage, contact information, or location — and whether that data is shared with third parties for tracking.