Unlike last year's macOS Monterey, Ventura doesn't confront you with a major overhaul to the interface. Instead, it improves the operating system's look, feel, and security, and it adds flexible new features like a family-shared photo library in Photos. Ventura continues Apple's push to integrate iOS and macOS.
The most enjoyable and productive OS there is.
- Apple macOS Ventura review from PCMag.
- Works smarter. Plays harder. Goes further.
- macOS Ventura: Everything We Know on MacRumors.
- Stage Manager and Continuity Camera crown a list of upgrade on Tom's Guide.
- macOS Ventura security and privacy guide from SecureMac.
macOS Monterey is more of an incremental upgrade. It acknowledges the new dependence upon virtual connectedness in our lives with the focus on updates to FaceTime like watching movies together, screen sharing and grid view. Audio enhancements improve your online experience.
Monterey is an incremental upgrade to the already-polished macOS rather than a radical change. It adds plenty of security, collaboration, and convenience features.
Apple's move to the M1 chip now includes the Mac Studio starting at $1999 (connect up to four Pro Display XDRs and one 4K TV). The M1 Ultra has truly amazing power (starting at $3999). Keep in mind that these devices are not user upgradable after purchase.
If you want power, the Apple Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra chip brings it in spades, elevating the elegant desktop PC with truly impressive processing and graphics.
There are far more apps built with M1 processors in mind, but if your only option is an Intel-based app, you'll need to install Rosetta on your M1 Mac.
- Apple macOS Monterey review from PCMag.
- macOS Monterey, latest version, features and problems.
- These are the top features in macOS Monterey on Wired.
- macOS 12 Monterey: New features, compatibility — 114 'macOS Monterey' stories.
- How to create a bootable USB macOS installer (Macworld).
macOS 11 Big Sur
macOS Big Sur included some of the biggest changes to macOS since the release of Mac OSX. It has more of an iOS look and feel, but with features unique to macOS.
macOS Big Sur upgrades the Mac's interface in dozens of subtle and substantial ways that make it easier and more convenient to use than ever. And new security features lock down the system even more effectively against malware.
macOS Catalina continued to move much iOS functionality onto the Mac, including the ability to port iPadOS apps. iTunes is gone, replaced with Music, TV and Podcasts. iOS backup is now in Finder and Sidecar turns supported iPads into a secondary monitor.
If you've got an older Mac that you're still happy with, you have some options. You can continue to run Mojave or Catalina, depending on which version you’re happiest with.
Apple typically supports the previous two versions of macOS with security updates and new Safari versions, so Mojave should be supported for another year and Catalina should have two years of patches left.
— Ars Technica
32-bit Apps Deprecated
Catalina is the last macOS version that will support 32-bit software.
The end of support for 32-bit apps in macOS 10.15 is probably most significant for legacy users more likely to be using 32-bit apps.
Mac hardware and macOS made the jump from 32 bits to 64 bits a long time ago, but Catalina will be the very first version of macOS that is totally unable to run 32-bit software.
Legacy System Extensions Deprecated
Catalina will be the last version of macOS to use legacy system extensions. Most active vendors have already made this change, but it may require you to pay for an upgrade. An example of the warning:
Help & Information
The Internet is the best source for help with your challenges other than Mac user groups.
- macOS. It's why there's nothing else like a Mac.
- Mac Basics: Everything you need to get started.
- Use your Apple Keyboard in Windows with Boot Camp from Apple.
- Apple — the place to start for Mac products and information.
- Apple Services Status — status of Apple services in the cloud.
- 20 Apple keyboard shortcuts business users need to know.
- A complete beginner's guide to macOS: Get started in just 1 hour.
- How to create a bootable USB installer for macOS (Apple).
Buying a Mac
High-end Mac laptops (e.g., the M1 MacBook Pro or M1 Ultra) can be quite pricey, but are aimed at those that need the extreme performance in a laptop.
[T]here's a simple reason to buy a MacBook. They last twice as long.
- 10 tips to help you decide which Mac to buy.
- Old Macs seem to last forever. Here's why. (video).
- What MacBook should I buy in 2022? (video).
Moving to an iPad Pro
The iPad Pro is a very powerful device (more powerful than legacy Macs). If you're considering replacing your Mac with an iPad Pro, your success will depend upon how you use your computer and the apps that are available. There are other potential issues.
Switching to a Mac
Should you switch?
The Mac provides a stable platform for those that dislike the direction Microsoft has taken with Windows 11 or is your current computer won't upgrade to the next version of Windows.
Many think of Macs as expensive compared to Windows computers.
That's true for budget level computers, but no so much for high end Windows-based ultrabooks which are priced near (or even above) similarly equipped MacBooks and MacBook Pro machines.
The integration with iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad make it even more attractive if you run those devices.
The switch from Windows to OS X has really paid off for me from a reliability standpoint. Sure, the Mac ecosystem is far from perfect, and there are still plenty of annoyances to contend with, but I'm wasting a lot less time hand-holding systems these days.
Resources for Windows Users
These online resources and books can help you in the transition.
- 7 Advantages you probably don't know about switching to Mac from PC.
- 13 macOS tips for Windows users.
- How to move from PC to Mac from Macworld.
- How to switch from PC/Windows to a Mac as painlessly as possible.
- Move your data from a Windows PC to a Mac from Apple.
Amazon has several books about switching from a PC to a Mac.
News & Tips
These news sources will keep you informed about what is new and upcoming regarding the Mac.
- iMore for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch content.
- Computerworld Apple news.
- Accelerate Your Macintosh!
Looking for tips on how to do something or to work more efficiently?
- How to clean a MacBook screen and Mac accessories.
- MacPaw How To has hints on dealing with lots of issues.
- Lifewire's Mac How-Tos.
- 62 OS X El Capitan tips and tricks.
- How to replicate the best Windows 10 features on a MacBook.
- How to make your Mac look like Windows 10.
Try searching for hints and how-to tips or see if you can't get help from an online forum.
- Info-Mac the original Mac online community.
About Older Macs
These are sites don't appear to be maintained but still contain useful information if your Mac is older:
- FAQs.org — Macintosh — various FAQs for the Mac (last updated 1995).
- apple-history.com provides information on Apple computers and products by date, family and processor type (last updated 2015).
- Info-Mac Archive (last updated 2007).
Feeling nostalgic or curious about early Macs?
- The history of the Apple Macintosh.
- Mac in time: 35 years of Apple's legendary Macintosh.
- History of Macintosh.
Macs are very reliable, but sometimes things go wrong.
- MacIssues — how to use, troubleshoot, and repair your Mac.
- MacIssues on Twitter (@mac_fix_it) has news and troubleshooting for Macs, OS X, iPods, iPhones, & more.
- Apple Apps Support — all the topics, resources, and options you need for Apple apps.
- If you cant send or receive email on your Mac.
- Diagnose problems with your Mac.
- Word for Macintosh.
Apple has a Force Quit option for programs that don't respond to a normal shutdown request. This should be your last resort option.
Traditionally, the only option for a hard drive was a spinning magnetic platter. Today, SSDs have changed that but you need to be aware of the risks and benefits of each choice.
- Mac Fusion Drive vs SSD vs hard drive: Buying guide.
- How to recover data from damaged Mac or external drive.
Backing Up Your Mac
If your hard drive fails, you'll lose all your data and perhaps the information necessary to recover your computer.
Backing up your Mac stores that information so that you can recover. You might want to read a bit about backups to fully understand the main concepts and risks.
- Back up your Mac with Time Machine.
- Restore items backed up with Time Machine.
- How to restore Mac files from Time Machine.
- How to back up Mac — the four best data backup methods for Mac users.
- The best backup software for Mac — alternatives to Time Machine.
Backing Up Your Email
- How to back up your Mac OS Mail folder.
- Restore mailboxes and their content.
- How to recover files using Time Machine, including email.
- How to back up or copy your Mac OS X Mail Address Book.
This Mac software listing is not extensive but provides some basic apps. Try these resources:
- Apple downloads page lists Apple's products.
- The The Apple Store app (download via iTunes) provides a more secure source for software. If given the choice, look there for apps.
- MacUpdate provides ratings and discounts.
You need to be running security (antivirus) software on your Mac. The effectiveness of security programs varies. Not all products are as effective.
Many macOS security products adversely affect system performance. These reviews may help you decide:
I continue to use Kaspersky Total Security on my Mac (and now on my PCs).
macOS's built-in firewall provides only inbound protection.
- Little Snitch provides both incoming and outgoing firewall protection and includes a network monitor.
Photo & Graphic Design
Affinity products are extremely powerful and very reasonably priced with no subscription fees.
- Affinity Photo (CA$69.99, no subscription) is professional photo editing software for the Mac. In the works for 5 years, it has an incredibly intuitive interface. System requirements.
- Affinity Designer (CA$69.99, no subscription) is professional graphic design software for the Mac. Affinity Designer won the 2015 Apple Design Award, “honoring outstanding design and innovation.” System requirements.
- Safari Browser is the macOS default web browser and supports the latest standards and features.
- Firefox Browser is available for macOS 10.12 and later.
- iCab Browser. This alternative browser for the Mac is highly customizable and includes image filtering, which eliminates banner ads.
- iCloud includes email, calendar and more. Minimum OS Lion 10.7.2 or iOS 5 or better. Recommended macOS Ventura 13, iOS 16.
- Mozilla Thunderbird is available for macOS 10.12 and later. Not recommended for large amounts of mail. Installing Thunderbird on Mac.
- Spark: Love your email again is probably the easiest and most innovative free email client. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch.
- Postbox (US$59 per user) may provide a Thunderbird alternative to those looking for something similar but with more features.
- Spark for Teams US$7.99/month/team member adds the ability to share and discuss email with your teammates to Spark.
- AirMail is designed with performance and intuitive interaction in mind. Many of Airmail's features are free to use on Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
- Best Email Clients for Mac — SoftwareHow.
- What’s the best email app for the Mac? — 9to5Mac.
- Best email app for Macs — Macworld.
- The 5 Best Free Email Clients for Mac — Lifewire.
- FileZilla (free) is the recommended FTP client for casual users. macOS 10.13.2 or newer.
- FileZilla Pro (US$19.99) is a professional FTP/S, SFTP client. macOS 10.13.2 or newer. Heavily optimized for speed, it can also connect with many cloud servers.
Manager is free accounting software. Requires macOS 10.14 or later.
- The Desktop edition is a full-featured accounting program for one user.
- It includes modules such as cashbook, invoicing, receivables, payables, taxes and comprehensive financial reports.
- If you need multiple users to access your accounting file at the same time, you need the cloud edition (CA$63/mo). Compare.
- VLC media player is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols. macOS 10.7.5 or later.
LibreOffice is Free and Open Source Software.
I strongly recommend LibreOffice because it is better maintained and more frequently updated than OpenOffice. It provides everything most people need.
This section discusses the requirements for LibreOffice on Linux. For more general information about LibreOffice, please see the Recommended Software page.
System Requirements for macOS
LibreOffice runs on macOS 10.12 or later.
- Intel or Apple silicon processor (via Rosetta - native Apple silicon support is being developed).
- 512 MB RAM.
- Up to 800 MB available hard disk space.
- 1024x768 graphic device with 256 colors (higher resolution recommended).
- For certain features of the software - but not most - Java is required. Java is notably required for Base.
- Due to an issue, there are the following restrictions with Java: on macOS 10.10 and newer, JRE isn't found, JDK is required
- LibreOffice 4.3 can still run on OS X 10.6+, but please understand that this support ended when 4.3 was retired on May 27, 2015.
See Oracle's Java Downloads for All Operating Systems page for information specific to macOS (10.7.3 or later).
- Able2Extract Professional is a powerful professional PDF program that allows you to do almost anything with PDFs. Strongly recommended. See my review of Able2Extract Pro 12 for details and full system requirements.
- A full licence costs US$199.95.
- Upgrade your old Able2Extract to latest version US$49.50.
- PDF Expert is a feature-packed PDF program that allows you to do most things that Adobe Acrobat DC can do.
- A premium plan costs CA$199.99 or CA$103.99/yr.
HTML & Text Editors
The macOS has a built-in editor but you might find one of these products more suitable for your requirements.
- BBEdit ($49.99 USD) is an excellent HTML text editor. BBEdit is available in the Mac App Store on a subscription basis.
- TextWranglers now BBEdit — and still free! It's time to switch.
- iA Writer for macOS ($49.99) requires OS X 10.9 or later, 64-bit processor.
- Best writing apps for Mac.
Your Mac has utilities built in that do much of what is done by these third-party utilities, but sometimes they simplify the process.
When deleting files, be careful to avoid system files and files related to programs as they may not run properly (or at all) if you do). Duplicate files on the system may be named the same but used for different purposes.
- CCleaner for Mac protects your privacy and makes your Mac faster and more secure.
- CleanMyDrive 2 is a lightweight drive manager for Mac. It cleans up files which are otherwise hard to get rid of such as service files created by macOS and Windows that corrupt your external drive's compatibility with other devices.
- AVG Cleaner tracks down forgotten duplicate files.
- AppCleaner is a small application which allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps.
- StuffIt Expander opens compressed StuffIt files and ZIP archives, as well as RAR, TAR, GZIP, BZIP archives files.