Apple continually rolls out new operating system updates. Unlike how the company functioned a handful of years ago, modern OS updates are free. So, if your computer is compatible, you can download the latest Mac OS updates through the App Store when they become available. If your computer isn't compatible, you will not be given the update option. You should always use the latest operating system as it comes with special improvement features and improved security designed to fully take advantage of your computer system.
What Is Mac OS?
Mac OS is the operating system of Apple computers. It doesn't matter if you have a Mac, Macbook Pro, Mac Pro or Macbook Air; if you're running the latest operating system, it will function the same. With a Windows machine, the manufacturer usually provides additional features and applications that come pre-installed. Some of these are useful, while others are considered ‘bloatware.' By contrast, Apple builds all of its computers. This ensures users have the same operating system, apps, and overall user experience. This way, you can move from one Mac to the next without any problems.
The most current version of Mac OS is known as Majove. It is a variant upgrade of Mac OS X. Apple is still using its 10th operating system version, so every addition that comes out is essentially a patch to the previous version. Apple hasn't had a truly new operating system in years, which is why even if you go back a decade the OS will feel similar (only with some slightly different icons and performance features).
When a new operating system update is available, you will receive a system update notification of this directly through the Apple computer. When you click on the notification, the App Store will load and guide you to the new OS. You don't need to download this right away. In fact, it may be in your best interest for you to wait some (depending on the applications you use). Before moving forward with any download, educate yourself on the previous versions that have come from Apple.
Mac OS Versions
Mac OS X has been around since 2000. In terms of length of time for an OS without a significant update 18 years is an incredibly long time. But that's right in line with Apple in general. Most of the computers have not received substantial facelifts or shifts in design in decades either. Apple likes to keep the design of its devices clean, elegant, and familiar. This makes it easier for someone to move from one computer to the next without the intimidation factor.
The very first Apple, the Apple I, did not have an operating system. So the first OS came with Apple II, known as Apple DOS. Apple eventually went to a system known as Apple ProDOS and then Apple GS/OS. At the time, most computers used a command-line interface. This kind of interface is similar to the shell in Windows, in that users type in commands at a prompt in order to direct the computer to do something.
By the time the Apple III came out, Apple had developed Apple SOS. The famous Apple Lisa used the Lisa OS and then the MacWorks XL. This operating system came out in April of 1984. This was a generic design by modern standards, but it was revolutionary. It was the first operating system to use a mouse and icons. Even if you look back at its appearance, there are some similar features to those you'll see in the modern Mac OS releases. This also became the very first use of the term “Mac” in the operating system.
Classic Mac built on top of the previous operating systems. The Classic Mac OS 1 came out before the MacWorks XL and then lasted through the end of 1984 before System 2 came out. Apple continued to release system updates, each building a little more on the tech features of the time. By the time you reached Mac System 8 (or Mac OS 8) you could see many of the features used today. At this time you had the early design of the dock, the window display controls, and the Trash Can in the lower right-hand corner.
By the time Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Mac OS 9 was in its development stage. It also was the last “Classic Mac” version. Steve Jobs redesigned the entire operating system following OS 9. At the time, the OS still shared many of the same features of the early Windows operating systems. In 1999, when Mac OS 9 came out, it felt dated when compared to the latest Windows operating systems.
OS 9 represents pre-Steve Jobs and OS X represents his return. The first version of OS X still shares many of the same look features as what you'll find on a current Mac, including the dock and the control features at the top of the screen. This represented a massive shift in the design of the operating system.
OS X 10.0 was the beta version of the operating system and was not publically available. Instead, it was designed for software manufacturers to create programs specific for the new OS. When Apple moved from the Beta to the official 10.0 Cheeta version, it came out right along the same time as Windows XP.
Since 10.0 Cheetah, there have been 14 new OS updates, with one coming out about once a year or so. These major OS updates include:
Following version OS X 11.11, Apple re-branded its operating system as Mac OS, instead of Mac OS X. The first version of Mac OS is 10.12 Sierra (2016), followed by 10.13 High Sierra (2017) and currently Mac OS 10.14 Mojave (2018).
Which One Is Better?
When it comes to Mac OS versions, you may want to know which one is “better.” In reality, better depends on what you're looking for. In general, the best operating system is the most recent one. This is because Apple doesn't typically remove too many features but instead builds on top of the existing ones.
With that said, you may not like certain application updates. One of the most classic complaints is what Apple has done with Final Cut Pro. The video editing software once served as one of the major editing platforms for professionals. In recent years Apple has shifted it to be more of a personal video editing platform and made it more along the lines of a supercharged iMovie. This has caused many professionals to move the way of Adobe Premier or to invest in the hardware of Avid.
Beyond the application updates though, you'll typically want the latest Mac OS versions your computer can handle. This is because the OS will have security updates the older operating system doesn't have. If you remain using the older OS, you might put yourself in harms way for potential viruses and other problems. In the past, this was not an issue as a vast majority of viruses were written for Windows based PCs. But with the recent popularity of iPhones, iPads, and other apple products, virus makers have grown more inclusive.
The first thing you'll need to determine is whether your computer is even compatible with the operating system update. If your computer isn't, then there isn't much you can do. In order to run the latest Mac OS on a MacBook, you'll need to have one from 2015 or newer. If you have a MacBook Air, you'll need one from 2012 or sooner (the same with a Mac Mini, MacBook Pro and iMac). If you have an iMac Pro you must have at least a 2017 version to run the new OS. The Mac Pro can handle many of the newer Mac OS versions. This is because of the internal hardware installed in these systems.
Ideally, you should wait some before updating to the latest Mac OS versions. While you can update your computer to the most recent operating system the applications you use may not be up to date yet. This means if you rely on one particular program, if you update your OS and the application hasn't been updated yet, it may not be useable. Another reason to wait at least a little while is that updates sometimes contain bugs that aren't apparent until a week or so after they've crashed everyone else's computer.
It is best to first wait at least a few weeks (if not longer). You should then backup your computer using Time Machine and then perform the update. You can also check online to see when your desired applications have been updated to the latest Mac OS versions.
It is almost always best to go with the most recent among Mac OS versions as it will give you the best features and access to the most recent security protection.