Wondering what the name of the latest macOS version is? Curious about the versions of Mac OS X that came before? Here we'll fill you in on the names of the different versions of the Mac operating system in order: from the newest macOS to the first version of Mac OS X and the codenames that Apple used for them. We'll also show you how you can check which version of macOS you are running and find out what the latest version of macOS is.

If you are wondering what the latest version of macOS is it's Monterey! Also known as macOS 12. Monterey arrived on Monday 25 October 2021. For more information read: Everything you need to know about macOS Monterey.

And if you are looking for help installing Monterey read: How to update macOS: Update to Monterey and Fixes for Macs that won't update macOS.

Mac OS X first launched more than 20 years ago on 24 March 2001. There's been a lot of change over those two decades: good and bad. From the problems with the first edition (it was slow and didn't run important apps like Microsoft Word) Mac OS X has evolved through various iterations and various designs to what we know today. We've seen tight integration with iOS devices, the incorporation of the cloud, and the arrival of excellent and helpful features including integrated Time Machine back ups, Quick Look - which lets you see a preview of a document without opening the application, and innovations like Expose and Spaces and Desktop Stacks to help you work efficiently.

In this article we will run though the long history of Mac OS X, or macOS as it is now known. 

For an overview of the features of the various versions of the Mac operating system, showing how it has developed over time, take a look at our video above. If you want to know the names Apple assigned to Mac OS X over the years, and the codenames that were used internally, read on.

List of macOS version names

Here's an overview of every version of macOS and Mac OS X Apple has released. You'll find a complete list of OS X version code names, along with internal code names (if available):

OS X 10 beta: Kodiak - 13 September 2000

OS X 10.0: Cheetah - 24 March 2001

OS X 10.1: Puma - 25 September 2001

OS X 10.2: Jaguar - 24 August 2002

OS X 10.3 Panther (Pinot) - 24 October 2003

OS X 10.4 Tiger (Merlot) - 29 April 2005

[OS X 10.4.4 Tiger (Chardonnay)]

OS X 10.5 Leopard (Chablis) - 26 October 2007

OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard - 28 August 2009

OS X 10.7 Lion (Barolo) - 20 July 2011

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (Zinfandel) - 25 July 2012

OS X 10.9 Mavericks (Cabernet) - 22 October 2013

OS X 10.10: Yosemite (Syrah) - 16 October 2014

OS X 10.11: El Capitan (Gala) - 30 September 2015

macOS 10.12: Sierra (Fuji) - 20 September 2016

macOS 10.13: High Sierra (Lobo) - 25 September 2017

macOS 10.14: Mojave (Liberty) - 24 September 2018

macOS 10.15: Catalina (Jazz) - 7 October 2019

macOS 11: Big Sur - 12 November 2020

macOS 12: Monterey - 25 October 2021

We have a full list of which Macs run which versions of Mac OS X and macOS here.

Mac OS X & macOS names

As you can see from the list above, with the exception of the first OS X beta, all versions of the Mac operating system from 2001 to 2012 were all named after big cats, from Cheetah to Panther to Mountain Lion.

But while the public-facing builds were named after big cats, internally, they were named after wines (aside from OS X 10.6 and macOS 10.13, both of which had no codename).

Even after Apple switched public-facing code-names to places in California back in 2013, it carried on naming them after wines internally until 2014. In 2015, Apple decided to change the theme of internal code-names from wines to types of apple. Original.

In 2016, Apple took the plunge to unify the branding of its operating systems by rebranding Mac OS X to macOS, which sits nicely alongside iOS, tvOS and watchOS, and paved the way for macOS 11, the successor to Mac OS X, which arrived twenty years after the first beta of Mac OS X.

What's the latest macOS?

Wondering what the latest version of macOS is? From 25 October 2021 it is macOS Monterey, also known as macOS 12. If it is compatible with your Mac you can download Monterey via System Preferences > Software Update. Read: How to update to macOS Monterey. We also address lots of the problems people typically have when updating their Mac in macOS Monterey won't install: Fixes.

Whichever version of macOS you are running you should always keep it up-to-date with Apple's latest updates and security fixes. Apple releases various updates to the OS throughout the year, so you can expect updates from time to time. Once Monterey is out we'll maintain a latest version of Monterey article.

The version of macOS before Monterey was Big Sur: you might be interested to read Monterey vs Big Sur for a comparison of features. We have a dedicated article with details of new features and security fixes in the latest version of Big Sur. You can download Big Sur here.

The version of macOS before Big Sur was Catalina, in that case we have a comparison of Big Sur and Catalina. For the latest security update information read about the latest version of Catalina here. You can Download Catalina here. Apple keeps the past three versions of macOS up to date with security fixes, so, until the new version of macOS launches, Catalina will be included in these necessary updates. 

Prior to the release of Catalina we had macOS 10.14 Mojave. Version 10.14.6 arrived on 26 September 2019. Download Mojave here. Find out about the latest version of macOS Mojave here.

macOS Mojave

Before Mojave was macOS High Sierra. High Sierra is available here.

If you want an even older version of macOS take a look at our article about getting old versions of macOS and Mac OS X.

How to tell which macOS you are running

You can tell which version of macOS you are running by clicking on the Apple logo in the top left and choosing About This Mac.

Which version of macOS am I running

How to install the latest version of macOS

If you want to update your Mac to a newer version of macOS the method will be determined by the version of macOS you are running.

Very old versions of Mac OS X came on a disk and any security updates came via Software Update. Since the arrival of the Mac App Store in 2011 (as an update to Snow Leopard) versions of Mac OS X and macOS have been available to download via the Mac App Store.

However, that changed slightly with Mojave, which arrived in 2018. Now operating system updates come in via a new Software Updates pane in System Preferences. You can still find the software in the Mac App Store, but you should just see it in System Preferences > Software Update. 

You can get to System Preferences from the Apple menu: Click on the Apple logo in the top left and choose System Preferences. You may be taken straight to the Software Update pane, if not click on the Software Update cog icon. Your Mac will search for an update and if there is one you can choose Update Now.

Some Macs will be set to update macOS automatically. If you want your Mac to update automatically follow these steps:

In Big Sur, Mojave or Catalina:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Software Update.
  3. Check the box beside Download new updates when available.
  4. Now select the box Install macOS updates.

In High Sierra or earlier:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on App Store.
  3. Check the box beside Automatically check for updates - it should have a tick in it as should the four options below that…
  4. Now deselect the box beside Download newly available updates in the background.

Read all about how to update your Mac here.