macOS Sonoma

The newest version of the Mac operating system, launching this fall.

By MacRumors Staff
macOS Sonoma

macOS Sonoma

macOS Sonoma is the newest version of macOS, the operating system that runs on the Mac. The update is named after Sonoma, an area in Northern California's "Wine Country" that is known for its wineries.

sonoma desktop wwdc

With the update, Apple brings interactive widgets to the desktop, moving them out of the Today view and making them both more prominent and more useful. Widgets can be found in the widget gallery, and placed in convenient locations right on the desktop. When not in use, widgets are designed to blend seamlessly into the wallpaper.

Widgets are interactive, and can be used to do things like check off reminders, play and pause media, control smart home devices, take notes, and more, all without having to open up the associated app. With Continuity, you can also see and interact with your iPhone widgets on your Mac.

For those who use video conferencing frequently, there is a new Presenter Overlay video effect that displays their avatar on top of the content that is being shared. There is a new Screen Sharing picker that makes it easier to share apps during calls, and a Reactions feature adds balloons, confetti, hearts, and more to video calls based on hand gestures.

When Screen Sharing, there's a new high performance mode that allows for more responsive remote access to pro workflows. It features low-latency audio, high frame rates, and support for up to two virtual displays and reference color. Apple says that with this mode, pros can access their content creation workflows from anywhere.

sonoma feature summary

Safari's Private Browsing mode is more private than ever, locking behind Touch ID when you step away from the computer. It also has enhanced tracking and fingerprinting protections to keep websites from monitoring your browsing activity across the web. Safari search is more responsive with more relevant suggestions. With profiles in Safari, work-related web browsing can be kept separate from personal browsing, or profiles can be created for different topics.

Each profile has separate cookies, history, extensions, Tab Groups, and Favorites. The same site can be signed into with both work and personal accounts, and swapping between them can be done with a click. For your favorite websites, there's now the option to save them as a web app that works like a normal app. Web apps can be added to the desktop or the dock, and it's an easy way to launch your most-used websites quickly. Web apps also have a simplified toolbar for easier browsing.

One-time verification codes in the Mail app now autofill in Safari for easier logins without having to swap apps, plus Mail prioritizes travel-related emails and supports big emoji. The Messages app supports a new stickers experience, and all emoji are now considered stickers and can be used like stickers. Custom stickers can be created from Live Photos as well, and used in Messages chats. There are also improvements to Messages search with filters, and for group chats, there's an option to go right to where you last left off in an ongoing conversation.

In Photos, the People album can recognize pets, and Visual Lookup now works with videos, plus it can recognize food and suggest similar recipes. AirTags can be shared with other people in the Find My app, and Activity History in the Home app lets you see when the door was unlocked or locked. The Music app will soon support collaborative playlists, and for AirPods, muting can be done with a press on the stem and switching between devices is quicker.

New Sensitive Content Warnings prevent you from being exposed to unsolicited sensitive images and videos in Messages, AirDrop, FaceTime messages, and incoming calls. Communication Safety for children has improved to encompass AirDrop, the Photos picker, incoming calls, and FaceTime messages in addition to the Messages app.

Shared Passwords and passkeys are available through the Passwords section in Settings, so you can share important passwords with friends and family members. Passwords are stored in iCloud Keychain and are end-to-end encrypted, and all users can add and edit passwords to keep them up to date.

The Notes app supports inline PDFs and document scans in full width, plus there are linked notes for connecting multiple related notes together. You can also start a project in Notes and then transition to the Pages app through the Share button. Improved PDF functionality allows AutoFill to be used to fill in forms, and there are smart recipient recommendations. The Reminders app can organize the groceries on your list into categories with sections, and sections can be used for deeper organization in custom lists as well. There's also a new column view that gives Reminders a new look.

There are new Apple TV-like screen savers in macOS Sonoma that feature slow-motion videos of worldwide locations like the Hong Kong skyline, Monument Valley in Arizona, and Sonoma in Northern California. There are Landscape, Earth, Underwater, and Cityscape themes to choose from, and the screen savers flow into desktop wallpapers when the Mac is awakened. To accommodate the new screen savers, Apple moved the login window to the bottom of the display from the middle.

Activating Siri no longer requires the "Hey Siri" command, and instead, you just need to say "Siri". Autocorrect has been overhauled with more accurate corrections, and there's an option for inline completions for entire sentences. Apple has improved dictation too, introducing better speech recognition.

For gamers, there's a Game Mode that works on Macs that have Apple silicon chips. Game Mode provides an optimized gaming experience by prioritizing games on the CPU and GPU, which means gamers can expect smoother and more consistent frame rates. Game Mode also lowers audio latency with AirPods and reduces input lag with game controllers from Xbox and PlayStation with a doubled Bluetooth sampling rate. Game Mode works with any game.

There are new accessibility features such as an option to connect Made for iPhone hearing devices to Macs for calls and media consumption, and Live Speech to allow nonspeaking users to vocalize their thoughts during calls and conversations. Phonetic suggestions show up when dictating and editing text with Voice Control on Mac, and there are options to pause animated images in Messages and Safari.

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macOS Sonoma is compatible with Macs from 2018 and later in most cases, with a full list available below.

  • iMac - 2019 and later
  • iMac Pro - 2017 and later
  • Mac mini - 2018 and later
  • MacBook Air - 2018 and later
  • MacBook Pro - 2018 and later
  • Mac Pro - 2019 and later
  • Mac Studio - 2022 and later

Release Date

macOS Sonoma is available to developers for beta testing purposes at the current time. Apple plans to make a public beta available in July, and a public launch will follow this fall.

macOS Sonoma Timeline