The next version of macOS, Sonoma, named after the Californian wine region, is now available. Among the new features coming to Macs in Sonoma (aka macOS 14) are changes to widgets, a new Game Mode, the ability to easily turn web pages into web apps, and fun additions to video conferencing apps. Read on for the lowdown on all the new features and further improvements coming later in 2023.
macOS 14 Sonoma: Release date
The final version of macOS 14 was released to the general public on Tuesday, September 26. The update became available around 10 am PT, 1 pm ET, and 6 pm BST. If you haven’t seen it yet it may just be necessary to wait a little longer as it can take a while before it starts to show up on all Macs.
September 26 was the earliest macOS release date since 2018.
Go to System Settings (System Preferences in older versions of macOS).
Click on General.
Click on Software Update and your Mac will search for the update. If it’s the day that Sonoma arrives, you may have to wait a while before it shows up.
Click on Upgrade Now and wait for the macOS installer to download.
Once the installer has downloaded click on Install and wait while the software is installed on your Mac (during which time you won’t be able to use the Mac.)
macOS 14 Sonoma beta: Latest version
Even after macOS Sonoma arrives, Apple will continue testing a developer version and a public version of the beta. This is how Apple will test new features that will come later in 2023 and throughout 2024.
The most recent beta of Sonoma is Release Candidate 2, which arrived on September 21. Now that the full version of macOS 14 Sonoma has released to the public, Apple will likely start seeding betas for macOS 14.1 this month.
macOS 14 Sonoma: How to install and remove the beta
If you are a beta tester you may want to stop receiving beta updates once the full version of Sonoma arrives. In which case you can go to Software Updates, click on the (i) beside Beta updates and turn them off–that way you shouldn’t receive any more beta versions of the software and will be able to update to the full version of macOS 14. This process is a little more complicated if you want to downgrade from the iOS 17 beta to iOS 16, or from a subsequent beta of iOS 17 to the original version. If you then want to uninstall the beta, we have a guide for that: How to remove macOS Sonoma beta.
If you haven’t been part of the beta but want to join, installing the beta is simple, especially since Apple changed the beta process in macOS 13.4. It used to be necessary to download the Beta Access Utility for every device, but now you only need to register your Apple ID for the beta program to install betas on every Apple device that is signed into that account.
Then when you go to Software Update, you’ll see a new tab for Beta Updates, which will list the beta versions that are available to you. If you want to install the public beta, select macOS 14 Public Beta.
Just remember: betas are not as stable as the official version–features may be implemented and then withdrawn, or they may not work properly, UI can change, and third-party app compatibility isn’t guaranteed.
These are the Macs that are able to run macOS Sonoma.
iMac from 2019 and later
Mac Pro from 2019 and later
iMac Pro from 2017
Mac Studio from 2022 and later
MacBook Air from 2018 and later
Mac mini from 2018 and later
MacBook Pro from 2018 and later
When Apple released macOS Ventura, the following Macs could run it:
MacBook models from 2017 or later
MacBook Air models from 2018 or later
MacBook Pro models from 2017 or later
Mac mini models from 2018 or later
iMac models from 2017 or later
iMac Pro (all models)
Mac Pro models from 2019 or later
Mac Studio (all models)
There is always the possibility that a Mac may be compatible with macOS 14, but some of the new features won’t run on older Macs on the list. Some new features may also require Apple chips and not run on Intel-based Macs.
You’ll be able to add more Widgets from the Widget Gallery and place them anywhere on the screen. Apple has gone to lengths to make sure they aren’t distracting, they will essentially fade into the background.
This new mode will ensure the game gets the highest priority on GPU and CPU, which should help with playability. It will, Apple says, make gaming on Mac “more immersive.” There are also changes that should reduce latency with controllers and improve in-game responsiveness. These sound like improvements that could help improve gaming on the Mac, but it may just be too little too late.
Apple described how when you share your screen during a presentation your presence can get lost. To fix this issue Apple has devised a new video effect called Presenter Overlay which will overlay your face over the presentation, separating you from the background. This can appear like the picture above, or be a smaller bubble with your face in (which may cover less of the presentation).
Other new features include the ability to add a reaction to your video to show how you feel about something. For example, if you show two thumbs up a fireworks animation will play. These features can also be used as video effects with other video conferencing apps, so it’s not tied to FaceTime.
More updates are coming to WebKit, including new typography. Private browsing will get a new feature that will block private browsing windows when you aren’t using them. It will be possible to share Passkeys and Passwords with family members, This will be end-to-end encrypted via iCloud Keychain. You will be able to create Safari Profiles so you can separate accounts between work and home/school profiles.
It will be easy to make a website you use a lot into a Web App. Just open the webpage and choose File > Add to Dock to add a webpage to the Dock as an icon and open it to get an app-like appearance for that web page that opens outside of Safari. Learn how to make and manage Web Apps in macOS Sonoma.
PDFs and Notes
AutoFill will make it easy to fill out PDFs faster and securely. You will also be able to view PDFs in Notes, link related notes, and open a Note in Pages to update it there.
The AutoFill for PDFs is a feature coming later in 2023.
Changes to the keyboard will include improved Autocorrect and typing predictions. But this is a feature coming later.
Coming later in 2023.
You can expect improved Search of the Messages app, being able to refine your search as you go.
There will also be warnings about potentially sensitive videos and photos before you open them.
A new Sticker drawer, catchup for group conversations and improvements to Messages in iCloud will also come later.
Some features coming later in 2023.
Improvements to Lockdown Mode will help protect against cyber attacks.