Not sure what is the best Mac OS version? This guide is for you!
There is no doubt that Mac OS is among the best-operating systems available. While many customers tilt towards Windows and other operating systems, Mac OS has its own charm.
Its highly responsive and accurate feedback, feature-packed design, fluid performance, and user-friendly interface are worth noticing.
As a part of the Apple community, you might be aware of the debate regarding the best Mac OS version available. Many myths around Mac devices can keep you guessing, but this is why we are here.
Simply put, when it comes to your Mac device, the one it supports is the best Mac OS for it. Every year, Apple launches a newer, more refined version of the previous mac OS. So, the latest Mac OS launched is arguably the best Mac OS version accessible.
In 2021, Apple introduced the Mac OS Monterey, which is the most improved version of Mac OS since its launch. Other popular Mac OS versions are available that can get the job done as well. For instance, Mojave is considered the best Mac OS version if you like using 32-bit applications.
Similarly, Mac OS Sierra is also deemed reliable in the community since Apple is actively releasing security patches for this version.
If you want to find out more about the best Mac OS version to date, then continue reading this article.
In this article
- 1 How to Tell Which Mac OS You are Running
- 2 What Version of OS Can My Mac Run?
- 3 Which OS is Best For My Mac?
- 4 Should I Upgrade to Mac OS Catalina or Big Sur?
- 5 How to Know if an Application is 32-Bit or 64-Bit
- 6 Which Mac OS Should I Use?
- 7 Snow Leopard Myth
- 8 How to Update to the Latest Version
- 9 Mac OS Comparisons: Features, Requirements, and Compatibility
- 10 FAQ
- 11 Final Thoughts
How to Tell Which Mac OS You are Running
Before you figure out the best Mac OS version, it’s essential to know which version your Mac uses. To find out, do the following:
- Select on the Apple icon located on the left of the menu bar.
- Once the dropdown appears, click on ‘About This Mac.’
- An Overview Tab will appear, displaying the current mac OS version that your Mac is using.
What Version of OS Can My Mac Run?
Remember that newer Mac OS versions can’t run on every Mac device. This is simply due to hardware limitations because the old Macs don’t have enough capacity to run the latest OS.
For example, you cannot install Mojave on your MacBook Pro if it’s older than the 2012 midyear model. Likewise, old Macs using PowerPC CPUs cannot run operating systems meant for intel-based computers.
Which OS is Best For My Mac?
The latest Mac OS version available is undoubtedly the best option for your Mac, provided that it supports it. If you have a newer MacBook model that supports the latest Mac OS version, you should consider upgrading it.
This is because the latest Mac OS is optimized to utilize the latest Mac device hardware fully.
However, a few Mac users deliberately reject the idea of upgrading to the latest Mac OS version on their machine. This might be because they wish to utilize some specific highlighted features of their current Mac OS version.
To shed more light on the best Mac OS version, we have listed them down along with their highlighted features.
Mac OS Monterey (12)
- Features streamlined Safari tab bar
- FaceTime SharePlay
- Live Text
- Universal Control with drag and drop feature
- Airplay to Mac
Mac OS Big Sur (11)
- Updated design
- Now supports ARM processors
- Better maps
- Time Machine support for Apple File System (APFS)
Mac OS Catalina (10.15)
- Sidecar to use your iPad as an external display for Macs
- Music, Podcasts, and TV apps replaced iTunes
- 64-bit app support
Mac OS Mojave (10.14)
- Dark Mode
- Uses Screenshot app instead of Grab app
- FaceTime Group for chatting with multiple people (up to 32 people)
Mac OS High Sierra (10.13)
- Apple File System (APFS) introduced
- iCloud support
- Mail app utilizes 35% less storage
Mac OS El Capitan (10.11)
- System Integrity Protection
- Performance optimizations: PDF files open 4x faster, 40% faster app launching, Mail is twice as fast
Mac OS Yosemite (10.10)
- New user interface
- Handoff and Continuity features are available
- Photos app replaced by iPhoto and Aperture
Mac OS Mavericks (10.9)
- Compressed Memory
- Timer coalescing to minimize CPU usage
- App Nap feature
Mac OS Mountain Lion (10.8)
- Introduced new apps such as Notes, Messages, Notification Center, Game Center
- Airplay feature
- Apps can be updated from App Store
Mac OS Lion (10.7)
- AirDrop support
- Apple push notification Service
- Emoji support
- Mac App Store
Should I Upgrade to Mac OS Catalina or Big Sur?
We always recommend opting for the latest Mac OS version that your Mac supports. If you are caught between choosing Catalina or Big Sur, we would recommend Big Sur.
Why? Because it’s the latest Mac OS version launched after Catalina, with several improvements and new features.
Mac OS Big Sur created a stir in the Apple community due to numerous reasons:
- It arrived with a completely new design.
- It offered support for ARM processors.
- It promised upscaled Safari performance.
- It introduced Time Machine support for APFS and redesigned maps for better navigation.
However, it’s not all good news for the Big Sur. Here are a few issues that Mac OS Big Sur users face:
Apple designed the Big Sur OS as a transitional software to allow them to switch from intel chips to their ARM processors. While this transition initially showed a lot of promise in terms of performance improvements, it caused many compatibility issues.
Various apps that worked flawlessly on the older Catalina were no longer usable. An example is the VMWare Fusion 11 app which users reported as unusable after the upgrade.
No Support for 32-Bit Applications
Keeping the modern trends in mind, Apple introduced Big Sur and Catalina with 64-bit app compatibility. But this gave rise to many problems. Popular apps such as uTorrent became unusable after the upgrade. Because these apps were only compatible with 32-bit operating systems, they stopped working altogether.
Therefore, before you consider upgrading to Mac OS Big Sur or Catalina, make sure that there aren’t any 32-bit applications on your Mac.
How to Know if an Application is 32-Bit or 64-Bit
Here are a few simple steps to figure out which apps on your Mac are 32-bit and which ones are 64-bit.
- First, tap the Apple icon located on the menu bar.
- Select the option ‘About This Mac.’
- Now, tap the ‘System Report’ button in the Overview tab.
- Go to the ‘Software’ section and then select Applications.
- Search for your app and click ‘kind’ to see its type.
Which Mac OS Should I Use?
Before you opt for a Mac OS on your machine, be mindful to identify your Mac’s model. Older models of Macs might not be eligible for an upgrade to the latest version of Mac OS.
This is due to hardware and software limitations of older models that disable them from using the latest operating system.
But if your Mac is not old enough, we suggest upgrading to Mac OS Sierra or High Sierra because:
- Mac OS Sierra is not outdated, and Apple is actively releasing security patches for this operating system.
- It supports the latest system of APFS files, which is better than its predecessor HFS+ in terms of speed, size, and security.
- It also supports Siri.
- It promises major security enhancement to protect user data from being compromised.
Another thing to note while choosing any Mac OS is its ability to receive security updates. By checking the release date of the latest security patch for a Mac OS, you can identify when it became obsolete.
Take OS X Yosemite, for example. It received its last security patch on 12 September 2017. Similarly, the final security patch for OS X El Capitan was back in 2018, and its end of service was confirmed to be in August 2018.
Snow Leopard Myth
Several users in the Apple community believe that Snow Leopard was probably the best Mac OS version rolled out by Apple.
But this is just a myth.
After some digging, we found out that Snow Leopard was filled with bugs at the time of its launch. However, this Mac OS was finally made bug-free with frequent updates and improvements.
No one remembers the disastrous launch of Snow Leopard. Soon after, it was revealed in refined form; it became the ‘best Mac OS version’ of that time.
How to Update to the Latest Version
It is easy to update your Mac’s OS to the newest version that supports it. There are two ways to do this:
- Through direct updates in the system preference tab
- Through a downloadable link
Using Software Update
Using the software update option in the system settings is one of the best ways to update your Mac OS version. However, be mindful that this option is only available for users who are using Yosemite and newer OS on their Mac.
If you have turned on the ‘Automatic Update’ feature, your Mac will notify you of any available updates. This way, you can choose to download the latest Mac OS version automatically.
Or you can update your Mac OS manually by opening System Preferences, navigating to ‘Software Update,’ and then clicking on the ‘Update Now’ button.
In addition, this procedure is also effective in figuring out if you have the latest operating system installed on your Mac.
Remember that only the compatible Mac OS version will be available for download. If you own an old 2012 model Mac, the latest Mac OS that you will be able to download is Mojave.
Using Download Links
If you have an older system, the best way to get the newest Mac OS version is through download links. These download links provide you with a separate installation program in DMG format, known as ‘disk image.’
This installer also allows you to downgrade to an earlier version of Mac OS. When the installer is downloaded, launch it and wait for further instructions. Always make sure to back up your data before updating.
Mac OS Comparisons: Features, Requirements, and Compatibility
Before choosing the best Mac OS version for your Apple device, it’s essential to have information on the existing options.
Here are some of the latest Mac OS versions, including their requirements, features, and compatibility.
Mac OS Monterey (12)
Mac OS v12, code-name Monterey, is currently the latest mac OS version to date. This operating system arrived with a handful of features on 25 October 2021. Mac OS Monterey requires a minimum of 4 GB RAM, while it’s only compatible with 64-bit apps.
It has Apple’s new and improved signature Safari browser with several enhancements. Among those improvements is the addition of a sleek tab bar. You can also decide to change its theme color, open group tabs, or take shortcuts. Plus, the tabs now move upwards to leave more room for viewable content.
Moreover, the FaceTime app also received several improvements, including a background blurring option. Plus, you can view people in Grid view and Portrait Mode.
Apple has also included a Universal Control feature in this latest Mac OS version. With this feature, you can move documents between MacBook and iPad.
Furthermore, Live Text now enables you to take screenshots and parse texts. Mac also got AirPlay allowing its users to stream videos on their Mac using a phone. Plus, the new ‘Power Save’ mode ensures extended battery life.
Mac OS Big Sur (11)
Mac OS v11, code-name Big Sur, was released on 13 October 2020. It was the first one to support ARM technology and M1 chips. It also came with significant improvements in performance, stability, and user interface.
With its arrival, Big Sur introduced a completely new outlook of Apple’s operating systems since the Mac OS X. It also came with multiple improvements in the Safari browser, adding more to its stability and fluidity.
Additionally, Big Sur has the following features:
- Time Machine that supports APFS volume backup,
- Translation of upto 7 languages with a single click,
- Redesigned maps for better navigation.
4 GB RAM is the minimum hardware requirement for this operating system, and it only supports 64-bit applications.
Mac OS Catalina (10.15)
Mac OS Catalina arrived with a handful of features focused on making the interface more user-friendly. With a minimum hardware requirement of 4 GB RAM, this operating system worked flawlessly on older Macs.
It was the first Mac OS version to introduce SideCar, enabling Mac users to make the iPad an external display. It also divided the iTunes app into separate TV, podcasts, and music apps. Also, ‘Find My Mac’ and ‘Find My Friends’ became a single app for ease.
Unfortunately, this Mac OS version offered no support for 32-bit apps.
Mac OS Mojave (10.14)
Mac OS Mojave is probably one of the most popular operating systems that Apple has introduced to date. It is mainly because of its high compatibility and light hardware requirements while being reliable and bug-free.
It only requires 18.5GB storage and 2GB RAM to run. Plus, Mac OS Mojave fully supports 32-bit apps for added user convenience.
However, the best feature of this operating system was the all-new ‘dark mode.’ This feature was quite popular among users who felt that the bright user interface was too straining on the eyes.
Moreover, Apple replaced its old Grab app with the Screenshot app. Meanwhile, FaceTime introduced a group feature that can have 32 people at a time. Also, apps like Voice Memos, Stocks, News, and Home apps got ported to Mac OS.
We have provided answers to some common questions related to what makes the best Mac OS version!
What is the Fastest Mac OS?
The latest Mac OS Monterey is the fastest operating system that Apple has introduced. Because of its superior software optimization, it fully utilizes your Mac’s hardware potential. It is specifically designed for the newer Mac devices that use the latest hardware, making it more fluid and responsive.
Is Mojave Better than Catalina?
Mac OS Mojave has been the go-to option for Apple users when using legacy apps like Wine and uTorrent. While Mojave offers 32-bit app compatibility, you don’t find this luxury in Catalina, which can be a deal-breaker for many users.
Is the M1 Chip Better than the i7?
According to standardized benchmarks, Apple’s M1 chip is better than Intel’s i7 processor. The M1 chip’s latest architecture makes it outshine its rival in terms of performance, power usage, and development cost.
Can I go back from Catalina to Mojave?
Yes, you can revert from Catalina to Mojave. However, this process can be a pain. To downgrade to Mac OS Mojave, you’ll need to wipe your Mac’s primary drive and then reinstall Mojave using an external drive. You can download the latest Mac OS Mojave version via download links.
Is it Worth Updating to macOS Catalina?
Upgrading your operating system to Mac OS Catalina is worth it. Apart from actively receiving Apple’s security updates, Catalina offers a handful of new features and improvements. It also provides more stability, performance improvements, and enhanced security to protect user data.
Opting for the latest Mac OS version is a no-brainer for Apple users. While many Mac OS versions are available, the latest versions have more to offer. These operating systems provide enhanced performance, stability, and other improvements to boost user experience. Plus, they are constantly being updated with new features, security patches, and quality of life improvements.