Tim Cook heralded macOS Mojave, the new Mac operating system, as "chock-full of new features inspired by Pro users, but designed for everyone" and "a huge leap forward".

In this article we explore the changes and new features. We look at Dark Mode, Finder, Quick Look and Safari; new ways to take screenshots, use the iPhone and Mac seamlessly, and port iOS apps to the Mac; a new News app and a redesigned Mac App Store. We also cover our wishlist of features that weren't added, Mojave's system requirements and its release date.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: App Store

Mojave release date

Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, has confirmed that the next version of macOS - Mojave - will be available for download on Monday 24 September.

Cook revealed the information in the iPhone launch event (find out how to watch it if you missed it here), and read about everything that was announced at Apple's 12 September Event here.

If you want to get a feel for the new operating system now you can sign up for the macOS beta, either as a developer, or as a public beta tester: find out how to get the macOS beta here. You can also read our Mojave preview and our comparison of Mojave vs High Sierra.

Prepare your Mac now for the download by following our advice in this article: How to install Mojave.

What's the next version of macOS called?

Along with a version number (the next one is macOS 10.14), Apple always gives its operating systems a name. In the past the operating system was named after big cats: Leopard, Jaguar, Lion, but in recent years the names have been borrowed from Californian landmarks.

Apple has chosen to name the next version of macOS after Mojave, the desert in southeastern California.

The name had actually been predicted in the run up to the launch - the leaked screenshots that turned up on the Apple developer site showed a new wallpaper in the background, which 9to5Mac thought looked like "mountains - or maybe sand dunes... shot at twilight", and therefore would represent the Mojave desert.

Mojave Beta versions & updates

There have been a number of beta versions released since the first developer and public betas of Mojave arrived. To update a Mac with subsequent version updates users have to go to System Preferences > Software Update, rather than going to the Apple Menu > Software Updates.

Apple made the first developer beta available on 4 June, and released the second developer beta on the 20 June.

The public Mojave beta then became available on 26 June - a day after the iOS 12 beta arrived.

On the 3 July Apple released the third beta, then a fourth on the 16 July - that beta fixed a bug that stopped Dynamic Desktop working in Dark Mode and also introduced new Solar Gradient dynamic wallpaper. The public beta update came a few days later. Beta 5 bought new wallpapers, as seen in Apple's marketing of the new MacBook Pros and also made it easier to enable eGPU support.

Beta version 6 arrived on 6 August for both public testers and developers and added some new default wallpapers to the Home app (as did the iOS update) but more significant was a change to the Windows Migration Utility that will make moving from PC to Mac even easier.

The updated tool will make it simple for Windows users to transfer whole accounts, as well as contacts, documents, emails, and third-party app data to a new Mac. Currently, the utility is able to transfer local data, such as documents and pictures, but making it possible to transfer a whole account should make the move much more streamlined.

On 13 August Apple released the seventh version of the developer beta. This time, rather than adding a feature the company took one away.

The seventh macOS Mojave beta removed the Group FaceTime feature. Apple is now indicating that Group FaceTime won't arrive until "later this fall," suggesting it won't appear in the first general release of Mojave. When it does eventually arrive, Group FaceTime should allow as many as 32 participants to join the same call. It's not clear why Apple had to remove the feature.

The eighth Mojave beta arrived on 20 August. It's not clear if any new features arrived, but a new public beta was also released.

27 August saw the ninth Mojave beta arrive.

We have details about how to sign up for the macOS beta here.

New features

There are a number of new features coming to the next version of macOS. In particular, Apple appears to have focused on enhancing the Finder and Quick Look. But other new features are welcome, in particular, Dark Mode, which we will look at first.

Dark mode

A Dark Mode is nothing new - there has been a sort of dark mode available since El Capitan, but it only changed the appearance of menu bar and Dock. There was also the Night Shift mode that toned down the colours and removed the blue light that keeps you awake. However, the new Dark Mode in Mojave is what everyone had been calling for.

In High Sierra, the unofficial Dark Mode adjusts the colour of the menu bar and dock, but little else. The Dock's translucent background becomes darker, the menu bar's drop-down menus are darker (although still translucent). As shown in the below image.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Dark Mode

Not all third-party apps offer support for the dark menu bar, and even some Apple apps, such as Safari, currently feature a bright translucent sidebar.

The Dark Mode in Mojave, shown below in the Calendar app, will be applied to all elements of the interface, in every app, system-wide. Users can choose whether to turn it on. (We have a tutorial on Using Dark Mode on the Mac here).

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Dark Mode

Showcasing the new system-wide dark appearance, Apple's Craig Federighi explained that the dark shade "extends to the windows and the chrome". Adding that it's "great not just for photography, but also if working in a dark environment."

The developers in the keynote audience got a first look at the redesigned dark mode version of Xcode.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Dark Mode

The new darker interface had been leaked prior to the keynote, thanks to some images that appeared on Apple's developer site.

Early evidence that Apple was working on a system-wide dark mode also came via code in WebKit. This particular code would adapt rendering of a website in reaction to Dark Mode settings.

Desktop

Apple showcased some changes to the Desktop that are coming in macOS Mojave.

One change that will help Mac users keep their desktop clutter-free is Desktop Stacks.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Desktop Stacks

If you tend to save everything to your Desktop (as above, surely we all do that) you probably have a desktop covered in files, images and folders. Is there even room for another document? Apple is seeking to help us keep our Desktop more organised, without having to resort to a Stuff file.

In Mojave, images, for example, will be clumped together in a stack, so you will be able to find what you are looking for. At least we hope that will be the case - if you are like us, frequently dropping something on to your desktop so you can find it to email it, or edit it, you may be wondering if shuffling it away into a stack is the solution you are looking for, but we will wait and see.

You can read about how to use Desktop Stacks, and we also have an article explaining how to get Desktop Stacks and Dynamic Desktop now.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Desktop

With regards to your Desktop, Apple also showcased a feature called Dynamic Desktop, that means the backdrop to your screen will change throughout the day to a scene that's most appropriate (an evening screen in the evening for example).

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Dynamic Desktop

Finder, Quick Look & Markup

The Finder, Apple's default file manager, is also getting a few updates in Mojave.

Apple is adding a new view in the Finder. Gallery view will show users a preview of an image along with details such as metadata that can be seen in a sidebar.

Currently you can see Finder items as icons, in a list, in columns or as Cover Flow. The new Gallery view looks like a reworking of the Cover Flow view.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Gallery View

The great news is that this new Finder view will give you more than just a preview of the picture, document, or whatever it is you are trying to fine. Apple has refined the Markup tools currently available in Preview and added then to QuickLook.

As a result, you could preview (or Quick Look at) a PDF, and using the Markup tools add your signature without even opening up the Preview app.

Similarly, you will have lots of tools at your disposal when looking at images. During the WWDC keynote Apple demonstrated these quick actions that you can use on the current photo - for example, rotating or cropping an image from inside the finder.

You will even be able to trim video from within QuickLook.

Screenshots

Another change coming in Mojave is going to transform screenshots.

Taking a screenshot will be more reminiscent of taking a screenshot on an iOS device, with a small thumbnail appearing to the right of the screen when you take a screenshot, and easy access to the tools to edit that shot (crop, etc) from within the preview.

Apple will also be adding a tool for screen capturing video. Currently, this is available via the QuickTime app, so we imagine it is going to simplify the process.

APFS on Fusion Drives

High Sierra bought with it a new file system - APFS. APFS made duplicating a file and find the size of a folder instantaneous, offered built-in encryption, and saved space. However, it still doesn't work with Fusion Drives.

The good news is that Fusion Drives - and hard drives - will get APFS in the next version of macOS. Apple confirmed as much during the keynote, and back in May 2018 Apple's Craig Federighi responded to a Mac user who asked whether APFS was ever going to make it to the Fusion Drive, saying "We intend to address this question very soon," via MacRumors.

New apps and app updates

Apple usually makes some changes to existing apps, and sometimes adds entirely new apps when it updates its operating system. And this year is no different.

News app

The News app is also coming to the Mac.

News will have all the stores you can currently read on your iOS device, including Top Stories, Trending Stories, sections that are personalised for you. A sidebar will allow users to jump straight into the channels that they follow.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: News app

Apple seems to be doing its utmost to take on Google in terms of the delivery of news.

The leaked Dark Mode screenshots mentioned above also showed a News app icon in the Dock so the news that Apple was bringing News to the Mac wasn't a surprise.

Voice memos

A popular app on the iPhone, voice memos is coming to the Mac.

The real benefit here isn't so much that you will be able to record on your Mac, but rather that a recording taken on your phone will be immediately available to listen to (and edit) on your Mac.

Home

The Home app is also coming to the Mac.

Users will be able to monitor their gadgets, including video cameras, thermostats, and the like, as well control the devices using the Siri voice assistant.

Safari

Safari had some pretty big updates in terms of privacy, the removal of troublesome ads, and autoplaying videos, in 2017. In 2018, Safari is set to become even more challenging for advertisers as Apple makes it even easier to turn off cookies.

Speaking about cookies tracking you between websites, Apple said it will be "Shutting that down."

The company also spoke about how some organisations are able to recognise your Mac because of "Fingerprinting" - your Mac is recognised because of certain characteristics and that means data companies can track your device from site to site. Apple said that it will make it "harder to track you."

The Fingerprinting technique is used to create a unique identifier for a user based on how their computer and operating system responds to particular browser actions. This can replace the need for Cookies as a means of identifying users and means it's possible to track a user when if they have Cookies turned off.

Apple will attempt to stop third parties from being able to use these techniques to identify your Mac by "a unique set of characteristics," according to Apple's Craig Federighi: "Apple will make it "more difficult for data companies to uniquely identify your device and track you".

How? The company will make your Mac look "more like everyone else Mac."

FaceTime

Apple did release a beta version of Mojave that included an update to FaceTime that would make it possible to have 32 people join a FaceTime call, however, this feature was removed from the seventh version of the Mojave beta and Apple revealed that it wouldn't be ready until "later this fall".

When it does arrive, Group FaceTime should allow as many as 32 participants to join the same call. At least Apple's indication that the new feature will arrive "this fall" (that's autumn) suggests we won't have to wait almost a year, as we did with AirPlay 2.

Mac App Store

The Mac App Store will also be getting a makeover.

According to Apple it's been "Redesigned from the ground up."

There is a new UI, videos showcasing the apps will auto play so potential buyers can see what an app is capable of doing before they download it.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Mac App Store

Users will even be able to view tutorials in Mac App Store.

Apple has high hopes: in the keynote the company said: "We think the Mac app store will inspire the next generation of apps."

iOS and the Mac

Apple is introducing some new ways in which we can utilise our iOS device when working on the Mac. It also gave developers a preview of some exciting changes that will make porting iOS apps to the Mac even easier.

Continuity

Mac users will be able to "Take advantage of having an iPhone as a content capture device," according to Craig Federighi.

Mac users will be able to choose their iPhone as a method of capturing content when they are working on their Mac. In the scenario shown in the keynote, if you wanted to add an image to a document you could choose the iPhone as a capture device, at which point the iPhone camera would light up automatically, and you could take a snap.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Continuity

The iPhone could be utilised similarly if you needed to scan a document.

The photograph or scan goes immediately to the document on the Mac.

The macOS/iOS 'merger'

This new feature isn't coming in macOS Mojave, but it is coming...

During the keynote Apple announced its plans to make it easier to port iOS apps to the Mac. The company gave developers a "sneak peek" of its strategy to give Mac developers a chance to "tap into" iOS.

While iOS and MacOS share common foundations, it's not easy to port an iOS app to the Mac because the two user interfaces are somewhat different. "Porting an app from one to the other involves some work," said Craig Federighi.

Apple will be looking at ways to adapt specific behaviours, for example, drag and drop, so that they can be translated to the other OS. In 2018 Apple will be looking at some of its own apps, and working on ways to make the transition between the two OSes smoother.

The plans to make it easier to port an app from iOS to the Mac was no big surprise. Back in January 2018 a report on Axios (by Ina Fried previously of Re/code and All Things Digital) claimed that you will be able to run iPad apps on macOS 10.14 when it launches in the autumn, as part of a secret Apple project.

While it looks like Apple has decided that it would be a mistake to try and prepare to launch such a feature in 2018, it is clear that the rumoured project to combine iPhone, iPad and Mac apps was real.

According to Bloomberg's sources in a January 2018 report: "Developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it's running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac." This project was codenamed Marzipan.

By unifying the app development it was hoped that third-party Mac apps would be updated more frequently. Currently most development funding goes to iOS apps.

This doesn't mean we can expect a merger of iOS and MacOS. Back in March 2018. Apple CEO Tim Cook repeated his views that merging the two platforms would be a mistake.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Cook said: "We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make trade-offs and compromises.

"So maybe the company would be more efficient at the end of the day. But that's not what it's about. You know it's about giving people things that they can then use to help them change the world or express their passion or express their creativity. So this merger thing that some folks are fixated on, I don't think that's what users want."

What we didn't hear about

We had a long wishlist of new features we were hoping to hear about in macOS 10.14, alongside some equally enticing rumours. Unfortunately, not all of them were announced by Apple, although that doesn't mean they won't see the light of day.

Faster waking and unlocking

We'd heard a rumour that Apple is seeking to improve waking and unlocking in macOS.

According to the Axios report mentioned earlier, Apple wants to make improvements in performance when waking and unlocking the system.

Security improvements

Apple has come under fire for issues with bugs and vulnerabilities in MacOS High Sierra (and iOS 11). As a result the company is placing special emphasis on addressing security and performance issues in the next version of macOS. All the company mentioned was in terms of the information we don't want to give away when we are surfing the internet, but we suspect that the company has a lot more to share (or not share) here.

64-bit apps

High Sierra was the last macOS release to support 32-bit apps. Apple announced back in the summer of 2017 that applications in 10.14 would be 64-bit only.

Strangely enough the company didn't even mention this in the keynote, but then Apple has been hammering the point home for some time.

In fact "New apps submitted to the Mac App Store must support 64-bit starting January 2018, and Mac app updates and existing apps must support 64-bit starting June 2018," states Apple on its developer website.

The move will force app developers to switch to 64-bit - which is good news if it means developers can deliver better software and making use of more than 4GB of RAM.

In preparation for this move, Apple started showing a warning in High Sierra 10.13 which indicates that an app is not optimised for your Mac if it is 32-bit, read more about what the warning means here.

You can be prepared for the move to Mojave by checking which of your apps are 32-bit, we explain how to do that in our guide to which apps won't work in Mojave here.

Re-designed iTunes and Apple Music

The app that needs the most work in our opinion is iTunes and we think that Apple is saving this for the next version of the macOS and iOS. In fact we think that Apple has a lot up its sleeve in regards to iTunes, which we think it in for more than just a redesign but a complete rebrand.

iTunes is often described as bloated, the issue being that it tries to do too many things. We think the real problem is the fact that much of our iTunes library was imported over a decade ago and we don't have the time to manage it in the way we did then, and as a result it just looks untidy. Apple Music helps us discover new music, but sometimes we'd just like to rediscover some of the tracks we used to listen to.

We expect some intelligent algorithms will come out of Apple's acquisition of Shazam that will help iTunes (and Apple Music) become better at playing tunes we actually want to hear.

macOS Mojave release date & new features: Wishlist

Another reason we think a big overhaul it in the works is the fact that it looks like Apple intends to start offering a Netflix-like, TV and movie subscription service. More here.

On the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV we think this will be delivered via the TV app, so we'd expect to see something like that on the Mac too.

Time Machine

We'd like to see some changes to the way Time Machine works in macOS 10.14. Users have been calling for a way for Time Machine backups to be stored in the cloud. After all, our iPhones are backed up to iCloud so why can't our Macs be?

You may already have your Mac set up to store the contents of your Desktop and Documents folders in iCloud, the Time Machine backup could be the next step in moving our data to a location where we can download it all from should our Macs be stolen or stop working.

We will mention APFS in more detail below, but in terms of Time Machine, APFS could bring some changes. Currently, Time Machine uses the older HFS+ file system.

This is because Time Machine currently relies on directories, and creates hard links to them. APFS doesn't support hard links to directories, it creates symbolic links (or aliases) instead.

So Time Machine has to use HFS+ to work right now, but in the next version of macOS, Apple could update Time Machine to use APFS snapshots for file linking, rather than hard links.

macOS Mojave system requirements

Prior to the announcement we knew that the next version of macOS won't support 32-bit apps so we predicted that would mean that a few Macs wouldn't be supported either.

Another clue as to which Macs might not be supported was Metal. We expected that Macs that don't have Metal support would get dropped after High Sierra.

We were correct in our predictions, only the following Macs support Mojave:

  • iMac models from 2012 or later
  • iMac Pro (from 2017)
  • MacBook models from 2015 or later
  • MacBook Pro models from 2012 or later
  • MacBook Air models from 2012 or later
  • Mac mini models from 2012 or later
  • Mac Pro models from late 2013 (plus mid-2010 and mid-2012 models with recommended Metal-capable GPU)

You'll notice what that last option means - no more cheese grater Mac Pro support. Apple had better hurry up and launch it's Mac Pro successor.