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 and what time Mojave will be available to download on Monday 24 September.

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. Based on previous years we expect the download to become available at around 6pm in the UK, which is around 1pm on the east coast of the US, and 10am in California.  

Cook revealed when Mojave will be released 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.

Read our Mojave preview and our comparison of Mojave vs High Sierra to find out more about what's new in Mojave. You may want to spend some time prepare your Mac for the download by following our advice in this article: How to install Mojave.

Mojave Beta versions & updates

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. While you wouldn't get much out of joining the beta program now, it will allow you to try out any updates to Mojave before the general public as Apple works on adding new features over the next few months.

And there will be updates to Mojave once it launches. One such update will bring Group FaceTime to the operating system. This will allow you to conference call 32 participlants on Macs or devices running iOS 12.

To update a Mac with subsequent version updates users will have to go to System Preferences > Software Update, rather than going to the Apple Menu > Software Updates.

What's new in Mojave

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.

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.