macOS Mojave was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2018. This is the first recent macOS update not to be named after a mountain or mountain range; instead, taking its name from the California desert.
Here are a few of the key features we think you will appreciate.
Mojave vs High Sierra
#1: APFS is arriving
One massive improvement coming to Mojave, in comparison with macOS High Sierra, is that the new Apple File System (APFS) will work with this new operating system. APFS, a new file system announced with High Sierra, wouldn't work with Fusion Drives and traditional hard drives. This was somewhat embarrassing and another example of Apple announcing a cool new feature, something people need, and then not delivering, or taking a long while for anything to happen.
APFS is a modern successor of the traditional Hierarchical File System (HFS+), which has been how Apple files have been organised since 1998. When this was rolled out for iOS 10 users, the ways files were organised gave users back some extra space, which Apple is hoping - along with a lot of other features - will happen when it is released with Mojave later in the year.
#2: Improved Dark Mode
In macOS High Sierra dark mode, made the Dock and menu bar turn dark and … not much else. In Mojave, dark mode is a system-wide feature that darkens your icons and applications, and even changes your background image to fit in with the theme.
Apart from personal preference between light and dark, with both versions looking slick and clear, dark mode is particularly useful when using your Mac in a dark environment so as not to cause eye strain. It also makes colours and images look more vibrant, which is great for photographers, designers, and anyone working closely with media.
#3: Gallery View in Finder
Dark mode's muted background against images also serves to make Finder's new Gallery view really stand out. It replaces High Sierra's Cover Flow view, which has been an option on Macs since 2010, with a much larger preview image. There's also a sidebar to display each file's metadata, so in Mojave you have the best of both worlds: Attractive scrolling through your files (useful if you can't remember what you named the file you're looking for) as well as handy info like size, date created, and last edited if several files look similar from the preview.
By pressing the spacebar, you can also take a Quick Look at image-based files, including PDFs, and directly from the Finder make simple edits like cropping, rotating, or even adding a signature. Not having to open other applications for tweaks that take a few seconds is a major plus for Mojave.
#4: Easier to organize your desktop: Stacks
Apple recognized that files can quickly accumulate on a user's desktop, and so in macOS Mojave, they’ve introduced Stacks. These are automatic piles of files organized by type, so you can select to group your desktop documents by whether they're an image, PDF, spreadsheet, screenshot, or another file type. MacOS High Sierra doesn't have this feature.
Stacks are only available for files on the desktop, which is unfortunate since it would have been a handy feature to have throughout the system. Since most files are pinned to the desktop for easy access, this may not work out for users who want to have a file immediately available rather than clicking through a Stack, but the extra step may be worth it to declutter the desktop.
#5: Edit screenshots more easily
Just like the spacebar has reduced the need for opening other applications to edit files in Finder, Apple has adapted the screenshot function to be much more user friendly — in fact, to be much more like the screenshot function on iOS. Instead of opening the file and editing the screenshot in another application such as Photoshop, as in High Sierra, when you take a screenshot in Mojave a small preview will appear on the right-hand side of the screen. Select it to immediately make edits such as cropping and rotating.
#6: Improved Safari private browsing
Safari on High Sierra was touted as the world's fastest browser, but it was also updated to reduce one particular annoyance on the web, autoplay videos, as well as limiting tracking cookies.
There are no major overhauls, but Mojave goes even further in making the internet more enjoyable to use by allowing you to block the clamour of social media add-ons. It also prohibits cookies and digital fingerprinting, so that one Mac looks like anyone else's, making it difficult for companies to track users between sites.
#7: New apps
Not new exactly, since these apps are imported from iOS, but in Mojave it's the first time we'll be seeing them on macOS. News will bring Top Stories, Trending Stories, and personalized content to your desktop, and frankly it's been a long time coming.
The Home app will also be available on Mojave, and it makes sense to have the app for controlling all of your HomeKit available on the Mac: if you’re working and need to change the lighting, there's no need to start reaching for your phone.
The Voice Memo app is also coming to macOS, and while it's unlikely to prove as popular on the Mac as on the iPhone for logging quick memos, it does mean there will be more efficient syncing across devices. So, a memo recorded on your iPhone on the way to work can be seamlessly synchronized with your Mac when you log on, so the memos are right where you need them.
#8: Improved App Store
According to Apple, the Mac App Store is getting a major overhaul in Mojave.
Many Mac users are tired or struggling to find apps and navigate the store, often needing to search for something online and download direct through an app’s website or a third-party service, even when you know the app should be somewhere in the App Store.
Apple is also giving developers free, limited-time, trials of paid-for apps, as a way of encouraging consumers to buy apps after using them for a trial period. Currently developers can’t do that through the App Store, so this should, developers hope, encourage higher download and conversion rates, since people won’t avoid the ones with a price tag if they can download and try for free.
In theory, with iOS apps coming to macOS, this should reinvigorate the Mac app market. This should also make it easier for developers to create apps for Mac, since they can create similar or in time, the same versions for macOS and iOS; although, as with many Apple announcements, they aren't promising this will definitely be ready in time for Mojave going live in the autumn.
#9: No more 32-bit app support
High Sierra the last macOS to support any apps that are 32-bit. Here is a useful article to check if any apps you’re using are going to struggle switching over (or simply won’t work) in Mojave. Apple considers this good news for developers and consumers, since this means 64-bit apps will make better use of 4GB of RAM, ensuring apps are higher quality and deliver an improved user-experience.
Our summary: macOS High Sierra vs Mojave
Although Mojave isn’t a huge leap forward from High Sierra, we can see a lot of decent new features that people are going to benefit from. In particular, Dark Mode and Desktop Stacks, the new file system and Quick Look are going to be useful. Providing you don't still need 32-bit apps you should enjoy the transition over to Mojave and the new features it offers.
Why you shouldn’t download macOS Mojave right now
Although in theory, this new operating system sounds like what we need to improve the Mac experience, you should wait a while before downloading and installing. Right now, it is only available in Public Beta mode, which means Apple is expecting bugs to appear and problems that will need solving before the final version is launched later in the year.
Also, depending on the age of your Mac, it may not be able to support all of the capabilities. It might be better to wait until the complete version is ready, make sure everything is backed up and your Mac is clear of clutter, and then download macOS Mojave in the fall.
When you are ready to upgrade, make sure you do the following first:
- Backup your most important data.
- Remove junk from system folders — CleanMyMac X does it fantastically
- Update all your apps (by clicking Check for updates in the Mac App Store).
- Delete large & old files to free up drive space.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!