There are many occasions when you might be required to find out what version of Mac OS X you're running. If you're buying a new game or downloading a new app, for example, you'll need to check that your Mac is compatible. In this article, we show you how to quickly and easily find out what operating system your Mac (including iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, Mac Pro and new MacBook).

What is Mac OS X?

Mac OS X is the name of the operating system that runs on Apple's Mac computers. It's pre-installed on your Mac, so when you're interacting with your computer you're getting the experience Apple's software team has designed.

Apple launches major updates to OS X yearly, and we're expecting the next version, which will be OS X 10.11, to be shown off in June at Apple's WWDC 2015 event.

There are also regular minor updates, which bring tweaks, fixes and improvements that might not be quite as obvious as the major updates but are still very important, and can sometimes make the all difference when it comes to the compatibility of applications.

Read on to find out how to tell which version of OS X you're using on your Mac, including both the major and minor updates so you'll know exactly what features your Mac has and whether it's compatible with the program you're trying to run.

See also: OS X Yosemite vs OS X Mavericks comparison

How to tell which version of OS X you're using

There are some tell-tale signs that indicate what version of OS X you're using, such as the design and features including the Mac App Store and the Notification Centre, but it's much quicker and easier to have your Mac tell you exactly what version its running by following these simple steps.

First, click on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen. From there, you can click 'About this Mac'.

You'll now see a window in the middle of your screen with information about the Mac you're using.

As you can see, our Mac is running OS X Yosemite, which is version 10.10.3. You might see OS X Mavericks (10.9), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), OS X Lion (10.7), OS X Snow Leopard (10.6), OS X Leopard (10.5) or even older. The number after the second point represents the number of minor updates you've downloaded and installed.

How to update to the latest version of OS X

If you find that you're running an older version of OS X than you need, you'll want to update to a newer version. You can do so by clicking the Software Update button in the About this Mac window, which will open the Mac App Store. If you're running Leopard or older (10.5 or lower), you'll require a Snow Leopard disc before you can continue. Find out how to get your hands on one here.

We'd strongly recommend making sure your Mac is backed up before you update your Mac, particularly if you're going to a completely new version (from Mavericks to Yosemite, for example).

You can find out more about updating and backing up your Mac here.

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Complete guide to System Preferences in OS X Yosemite

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Tips for using Notification Center on the Mac

How to use OS X Yosemite's Extensions