macOS Big Sur
|A version of the macOS operating system|
macOS Big Sur's desktop in "light appearance"
|Source model||Closed, with open source components|
|November 12, 2020|
|Latest release||11.2.2 (20D80) (February 25, 2021 )|
|Latest preview||11.3 beta 3 (20E5196f) (March 2, 2021 )|
|Update method||Software Update|
|Kernel type||Hybrid (XNU)|
|License||Proprietary software with open-source components and content licensed with APSL|
|Preceded by||macOS 10.15 Catalina|
|Part of a series on|
macOS Big Sur (version 11) is the 17th and current major release of macOS, Apple Inc.'s operating system for Macintosh computers, and is the successor to macOS Catalina (version 10.15). It was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 22, 2020, and was released to the public on November 12, 2020.
macOS Big Sur brings a user interface redesign. It is also the first macOS version to support Macs with ARM-based processors. To mark the transition, the operating system's major version number has been incremented from 10 to 11, for the first time since 2000. The operating system is named after the coastal region of Big Sur in the Central Coast of California.
Providing some indication as to how the pre-release operating system was viewed internally at Apple during its development, documentation accompanying the initial beta release referred to its version as "10.16", and when upgrading to the beta release using the version referred to was "10.16". To maintain backwards compatibility, macOS Big Sur identifies itself as 10.16 to software and in the browser user agent.
Unlike macOS Catalina, which supported every standard configuration Mac that Mojave supported, Big Sur drops support for various Macs released in 2012 and 2013. Big Sur runs on the following Macs:
- MacBook: Early 2015 and newer
- MacBook Air: Mid 2013 and newer
- MacBook Pro: Late 2013 and newer
- Mac Mini: Late 2014 and newer
- iMac: Mid 2014 and newer
- iMac Pro
- Mac Pro: Late 2013 and newer
- Developer Transition Kit
macOS Big Sur refreshes the design of the user interface, described by Apple as the biggest change since the introduction of Mac OS X. Its changes include translucency in various places and a new color palette. All standard apps, as well as the Dock and the Menu Bar, are redesigned and streamlined, and their icons now have rounded-square shapes like iOS and iPadOS apps. Compared to iOS, Big Sur's icons include more shading and highlights to give a three-dimensional appearance. Its aesthetic has been described as "neumorphism", a portmanteau of new and skeuomorphism. System sounds are redone as well.
The new OS also brings further integration with Apple's SF Symbols, enabling easier use by third-party developers as UI elements for their applications through AppKit, SwiftUI, and Catalyst, which makes it possible to unify third party applications with the existing Apple-made design language.
An interface with quick toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness and system volume has been added to the menu bar. This interface is functionally and visually similar to Control Center on iOS and iPadOS.
The Notification Center is redesigned, featuring interactive notifications and a transparent user interface. Notification Center also features a new widget system similar to that in iOS 14, displaying more information with more customization than previously available.
Support for Apple silicon
macOS Big Sur is the first release of macOS for Macs powered by Apple-designed ARM64-based processors, a key part of the transition from Intel x86-64-based processors. The chip mentioned in demo videos, and used in the Developer Transition Kit, is the A12Z Bionic. On November 10, 2020, Apple announced the first Mac Apple silicon chip, the Apple M1, in the Late 2020 Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Apple has said that it will support Intel Macs "for years to come", and most software that has not been ported to run on ARM Macs can use Rosetta 2, an update of a compatibility mechanism developed for the PowerPC-to-Intel x86 transition.
Support for iOS and iPadOS applications
On Macs based on Apple silicon, macOS Big Sur will run iOS and iPadOS applications natively and without any modifications needed from developers. The first Macs that will be able to do this are the late 2020 MacBook Air M1, the 2020 Mac Mini, and the late 2020 MacBook Pro M1 (two ports).
Signed system volume
Software updates can begin in the background before a restart, thus requiring less downtime to complete. Because system files are cryptographically signed, the update software can rely on them being in precise locations, thus permitting them to be effectively updated in place.
Spotlight, the file system indexing-and-search mechanism introduced in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, is faster and the interface has been refined. Spotlight is now the default search mechanism in Safari, Pages, and Keynote.
Time Machine, the backup mechanism introduced in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, can now back up to APFS-formatted drives, in addition to HFS+-formatted drives.) Apple's macOS 11 beta release notes document says, "New local and network Time Machine backup destinations are formatted as APFS by default. Time Machine will continue backing up to existing HFS backup volumes."
macOS Big Sur supports encryption at the file level. The prior version of macOS supported encryption only at the level of entire volumes. As of June 2020, this capability is known to be compatible with Macs based on Apple silicon; it is unclear whether it is compatible with Intel-based Macs.
- Bilingual dictionaries in French–German, Indonesian–English, Japanese–Simplified Chinese and Polish–English
- Better predictive input for Chinese and Japanese users
- New fonts for Indian users
- The "Now Playing" widget has been moved from the Notification Center to the Menu Bar
- Podcasts "Listen Now" feature
- FaceTime sign language prominence
- Network Utility has been deprecated
- macOS startup sound is enabled by default (it had been disabled by default in recent releases of macOS), and an option in System Preferences was added to enable or disable this functionality.
- a new customizable start page
- improved tab design
- built-in web page translation in English, Spanish, German, French, Russian, Chinese and Portuguese. The feature is currently in beta and will not be available in macOS Catalina and Mojave.
- new privacy features such as "Privacy Report"
- password monitoring, which notifies the user of compromised passwords
- better performance and power efficiency
- extension privacy management
- support for WebExtensions API
- page previews
- importing passwords from Chrome
- support for 4K HDR content from Netflix on Macs with an Apple T2 chip
- support for VP9 decoding, allowing for playback of 4K and HDR content from YouTube
- support for WebP image format
- Conversation pinning for up to nine conversations that sync across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.
- Message searching
- Name and photo sharing
- Group chat photo logos
- Mentioning individuals
- Replying inline
- Memoji stickers and editor
- A new photo picker
- Localized message effects for users in India
Refinements and new features of the Mac App Store include:
- A section dedicated to the privacy information of an app
- A new Safari extensions category
- Third party Notification Center widgets
- Family sharing of app subscription
- Collapsible pinned section
- Quick text style and formatting options
- Scanning enhancements
- New editing capabilities
- Improved Retouch tool
- New zooming feature in views
- "Look Around" interactive street-level 360° panoramas, first implemented in the iOS 13 version of Maps, have been incorporated into the macOS version of Maps.
- Availability of directions for cyclists.
- Electric vehicle routing, based on proximity to charging stations and monitoring of battery levels (on selected car models).
- Guides for exploring new places.
- Calculator Notification Center Widget
- Ability to remove menu bar clock
- Support for Adobe Flash Player
- Option to toggle Font Smoothing in System Preferences
- Ability to add Siri results to the Notification Center
- Ability to use ⌘+L in Spotlight to jump to the dictionary result, and ⌘+D to lookup the term in Dictionary.app
The rollout of Big Sur came with several problems. Upgrading to Big Sur has bricked some computers, rendering them unusable. Many of these were on 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pros, though problems were also observed on a 2019 MacBook Pro and an iMac from the same year. The initial rollout also disrupted Apple's app notarization process, causing slowdowns even on devices not running Big Sur. Users also reported that the update was slow or even might fail to install. macOS Catalina and Big Sur apps were taking a long time to load because of Gatekeeper issues.
The ongoing issues with the COVID-19 pandemic meant it was hard for users to visit an Apple Store to get their machines fixed. Shortly afterwards, Apple released a series of steps explaining how these Macs could be recovered.
Certain Apple applications running on Big Sur have been reported to bypass firewalls, which increases the risk of injecting malware onto the Mac. This was addressed with the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2, which removed the whitelist for built-in programs. Conversely, security experts have reported that Big Sur will check an application's certificate every time it is run, degrading system performance. There have been reports that the operating system sends a hash back to Apple of every program run and when it was executed.
Some users have reported problems connecting external displays to Macs running Big Sur 11.1 and 11.2.
In 2021, there were reports of two malware codes that infected macOS and include both x86-64 and ARM64 code. The first one was detected in early 2021. The second one, Silver Sparrow, was detected on nearly 30,000 Macs in February 2021.
The public release of Big Sur began with 11.0.1 for Intel Macs. Version 11.0 was preinstalled on Apple silicon Macs, and Apple advised those with this version to update to 11.0.1.
|Previous release||Current release||Current developer release|
|Version||Build||Date||Darwin version||Release notes||Notes|
|11.0||20A2411||November 17, 2020||20.1.0
|N/A||Preinstalled on 2020 M1 MacBook Air, 2020 M1 MacBook Pro, and 2020 M1 Mac Mini|
|11.0.1||20B29||November 12, 2020||20.1.0
|Security content||Initial public release|
|20B50||November 19, 2020||Available for all Macs except Late 2013 and Mid 2014 13" MacBook Pros|
|11.1||20C69||December 14, 2020||20.2.0
|11.2||20D64||February 1, 2021||20.3.0
|11.2.1||20D74||February 9, 2021||Security content|
|20D75||February 15, 2021||Fixes bug where installation with insufficient free space could cause data loss - exclusive to the full installer|
|11.2.2||20D80||February 25, 2021|
|11.3 beta 3||20E5196f||March 2, 2021|
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- macOS Big Sur – official site
macOS 10.15 (Catalina)
| macOS 11 (Big Sur)