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Screenshot of the OS X El Capitan desktop in dark mode
DeveloperApple Inc.
Written in
OS familyMacintosh, Unix
Working stateCurrent
Source modelClosed source (with open source components)
Initial releaseMarch 24, 2001; 23 years ago (2001-03-24)
Latest release10.15.5 Supplemental Update (June 1, 2020; 3 years ago (2020-06-01)) [±]
Latest preview10.15.6 beta 4 (July 9, 2020; 3 years ago (2020-07-09)) [±]
Marketing targetPersonal computing
Available in40 languages[3]
List of languages
[as of macOS Catalina]: Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Chinese (Hong Kong), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (Australia), English (India), English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Finnish, French (Canada), French (France), German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Update method
Kernel typeHybrid (XNU)
user interface
Aqua (Graphical)
LicenseCommercial software, proprietary software
Preceded byClassic Mac OS
Official websitewww.apple.com/macos
Support status

macOS, named Mac OS X from 2001 to 2012 and OS X until 2016,[4] is an operating system (OS) for computers made by Apple Inc. These are called Macintosh computers, or Macs. It differs from other computers, as macOS is supposed to run only on Macs and not on other computers. However, people have made macOS run on computers that are not Macs. This is called Hackintosh and violates macOS' license agreement.

macOS first came out in 2001, and is completely different from the "classic" Mac OS that it replaced. Unlike the first operating system, macOS (since OS X) is based on the UNIX operating system (current versions have UNIX 03 certification[5]) and on technologies developed between 1985 and 1997 at NeXT, a company that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs created after leaving Apple in 1985. The "X" in Mac OS X and OS X is the Roman numeral for the number 10 and is pronounced as such. The core of macOS is an open source OS called Darwin, but Darwin itself cannot run macOS software.

macOS releases are named after types of big cats, or California landmarks, and has a version number that starts with 10.0, 11.0, 12.0, 13.0 & 14.0. The latest version of macOS is macOS Sonoma (14.2.1).

Development[change | change source]

Simplified history of Unix-like operating systems

Throughout the early 1990s, Apple had tried to create a "next-generation" OS to replace its classic Mac OS. The current macOS is a UNIX operating system built on technology that had been developed at NeXT from the 1980s until Apple purchased the company in early 1997. That company was also founded by Steve Jobs following his departure from Apple in 1985. There, the Unix-like NeXTSTEP operating system was developed, and then launched in 1989 (the "classic" Mac OS is much older, as it came out in 1984). The kernel of NeXTSTEP is based upon the Mach kernel, which was originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University, with additional kernel layers and low-level user space code from parts of Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). Its graphical user interface was built on top of an object-oriented GUI toolkit using the Objective-C programming language.

Versions[change | change source]

macOS version information
Version Codename Date announced Release date Most recent version
Rhapsody Developer Release Grail1Z4 / Titan1U Unknown August 31, 1997 DR2 (May 14, 1998)
Mac OS X Server 1.0 Hera March 16, 1999 1.2v3 (October 27, 2000)
Mac OS X Developer Preview Kodiak March 16, 1999 DP4 (April 5, 2000)
Public Beta Kodiak/Cheetah September 13, 2000
Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah January 5, 2000[6] March 24, 2001 10.0.4 (June 22, 2001)
Mac OS X 10.1 Puma July 18, 2001[7] September 25, 2001 10.1.5 (June 6, 2002)
Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar May 6, 2002[8] August 24, 2002 10.2.8 (October 3, 2003)
Mac OS X 10.3 Panther June 23, 2003[9] October 24, 2003 10.3.9 (April 15, 2005)
Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger May 4, 2004[10] April 29, 2005 10.4.11 (November 14, 2007)
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard June 26, 2006[11] October 26, 2007 10.5.8 (August 5, 2009)
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard June 9, 2008[12] August 28, 2009 10.6.8 v1.1 (July 25, 2011)
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion October 20, 2010[13] July 20, 2011 10.7.5 (September 19, 2012)
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion February 16, 2012[14] July 25, 2012[15] 10.8.5 (12F45) (October 3, 2013)
OS X 10.9 Mavericks June 10, 2013[16] October 22, 2013 10.9.5 (13F1112) (September 18, 2014)
OS X 10.10 Yosemite June 2, 2014 October 16, 2014 10.10.5 (14F27) (August 13, 2015)
OS X 10.11 El Capitan June 8, 2015 September 30, 2015 10.11.6 (15G1510) (May 15, 2017)
macOS 10.12 Sierra June 13, 2016 September 20, 2016 10.12.6 (16G1212) (July 19, 2017)
macOS 10.13 High Sierra June 5, 2017 September 25, 2017 10.13.6 (17G65) (July 9, 2018)
macOS 10.14 Mojave June 4, 2018 September 24, 2018 10.14.6 (18G87) (August 1, 2019)
macOS 10.15 Catalina June 3, 2019 October 7, 2019 10.15.5 Supplemental Update (19F101) (June 1, 2020)
macOS 11.0 Big Sur June 22, 2020 November 12, 2020 11.7.9 (20G1426) (July 24, 2023)
macOS 12.0 Monterey Jun 7, 2021 October 25, 2021 12.6.8 (21G725) (July 24, 2023)

Public Beta: "Kodiak"[change | change source]

On September 13, 2000, Apple released a $29.95 preview of Mac OS X to ask users what they think of the new operating system so far. Apple stopped the Public Beta in March 2001 because of the recent release of OS X 10.0.

Version 10.0: "Cheetah"[change | change source]

On March 24, 2001 Apple released Mac OS X for the first time aka OS X v10.0 (codename Cheetah), but unfortunately, it was a failure due to its many computer bugs and glitches and its slow performance. Luckily this operating system version only stayed on the market up until September when it was moved up to a "higher level".

Version 10.1: "Puma"[change | change source]

Due to many problems and complaints about Cheetah, Apple directly got to work on releasing Puma, the next big cat in Mac OS X. It was released on September 24, 2001. Apple gave 10.0 users a free Mac OS X v10.1 install CD to make up for the flawed operating system before. As of January 7, 2002, Apple said Mac OS 9 and other previous operating systems from Apple were "going in the computer scrapyard" by the end of the month (January 31, 2002) and OS X would be the default and only operating system available on all Macs.

Version 10.2: "Jaguar"[change | change source]

Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar was released on August 24, 2002 and was the first to have its codename in the version branding. The Happy Mac (which formerly appeared when a Mac was starting up) was replaced with a large gray apple logo with the startup sequence of OS X 10.2 Jaguar.

Version 10.3: "Panther"[change | change source]

Mac OS X 10.3 Panther was released on October 24, 2003 and was one of the biggest updates to OS X yet. It featured a new brushed metal interface, an updated Finder, and many more features from Jaguar the year before.

Version 10.4: "Tiger"[change | change source]

Tiger was released on April 29, 2005 and as stated by Apple, featured more than 200 new features. Among the new features, Tiger introduced Spotlight, Dashboard, Smart Folders, updated Mail program with Smart Mailboxes, QuickTime 7, Safari 2, Automaton, Voice-over, Core Image and Core Video. Apple released the first Power Intel Macs for Tiger on January 10, 2006. Tiger ran swell on these computers. It was also the last operating system to support the Aqua color scheme.

Version 10.5: "Leopard"[change | change source]

Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard was released on October 26, 2007. It was completely redesigned featuring a 3D Dock, a new purple color scheme, and over 200 new features. It had both support for PowerPC and Intel Macs too. Leopard was the last release to have support for PowerPC.

Version 10.6: "Snow Leopard"[change | change source]

Mac OS X Snow Leopard was released on August 28, 2009, and rather than featuring changes to the appearance, it featured "Under the hood" changes. Snow Leopard dropped support for PowerPC Macs too.

Version 10.7: "Lion"[change | change source]

OS X Lion was first shown to the public at the "Back to The Mac" event in 2010, announced more at WWDC 2011, and released on July 20, 2011. It featured iOS-like features such as the Launchpad, the Magic Trackpad coming to MacBooks, and a new solar system color scheme. Apple also removed Rosetta making it impossible to use PowerPC.

Version 10.8: "Mountain Lion"[change | change source]

OS X Mountain Lion was announced on February 18, 2012, and released on July 25, 2012. It adds more features from iOS 5 and 6 to the Mac such as notifications, messaging, game center, and gaming with people on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Version 10.9: "Mavericks"[change | change source]

OS X Mavericks was announced on June 10, 2013 at the 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference.[16] It adds the Maps and iBooks applications, as well as new Finder features, better multi-display support, power improvements, and a new version of Safari. It was released on October 22, 2013. It was the first macOS version that was free.

Version 10.10: "Yosemite"[change | change source]

OS X Yosemite was announced in June 2014 at the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference. It was in beta form for developers and those enrolled in the public beta programme to test until October 16, 2014 when it was released. It introduces a new flat design, following the aesthetic introduced with iOS 7.

Version 10.11: "El Capitan"[change | change source]

OS X 10.11 El Capitan was released on September 30, 2015 after being announced on June 8, 2015.[17] Similar to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Apple described this release as containing "refinements to the Mac experience" and "improvements to system performance" rather than new features. Refinements include public transport built into the Maps application, GUI improvements to the Notes application, adopting San Francisco as the system font for clearer legibility, and the introduction of System Integrity Protection. The Metal API, first introduced in iOS 8, was also included in this operating system for "all Macs since 2012".

Version 10.12: "Sierra"[change | change source]

macOS 10.12 Sierra was announced on June 12, 2016[18] and released to the public on September 20, 2016. New features include the addition of Siri, Optimized Storage, and updates to Photos, Messages, and iTunes

Version 10.13: "High Sierra"[change | change source]

The fall release of macOS 10.13 High Sierra was announced on June 5, 2017 at Apple's WWDC event. On September 12, 2017 at Apple's iPhone event, they announced its release to be September 25, 2017. Like OS X El Capitan and OS X Mountain Lion, High Sierra is a refinement-based update having very few new features. High Sierra uses the new Apple File System and includes enhancements to Safari, Photos, and Mail, among other changes.

Version 10.14: "Mojave"[change | change source]

Released on September 24, 2018. There are many additional features to the existing macOS apps. Some highlights are Dark Mode (UI theme & appearance), time shifts reflecting the hour of the day (desktop background), file stacks, edit features in quick look, continuity camera and Group FaceTime features also adds the screenshot app.

Version 10.15: "Catalina"[change | change source]

Released on October 7, 2019. This OS is included with lots of additional new features like sharing your screen to iPad (Sidecar) and is capable of running iPad apps. Catalina is the first version of macOS to exclusively support 64-bit applications. MacOS Catalina also split up iTunes into 3 apps: Music, Podcasts and Movies. Because of the removal of iTunes, syncing your devices is done in Finder.

Version 11.0: "Big Sur"[change | change source]

Released on November 12, 2020, macOS Big Sur changes the version number from 10 to 11. It now supports the ARM64 instruction set architecture (ISA), as Apple is transitioning the Mac to its own Apple Silicon based on the ARM64 platform. It brings the biggest design changes since the introduction of macOS (then called Mac OS X).

Version 12.0: "Monterey"[change | change source]

Released on October 25, 2021. macOS Monterey changes the version number from 11 to 12.

Version 13.0: "Ventura"[change | change source]

Released on October 24, 2022, macOS Ventura changes the version number from 12 to 13.[19]

Version 14.0: "Sonoma"[change | change source]

Released on September 26, 2023, macOS Sonoma brings a set of new features to the Mac. With macOS Sonoma, desktop widgets is released which unlock a new way to personalize the Mac and get more done. Stunning new screen savers, updates to video conferencing and Safari, optimized gaming, among several other useful features are also released.[20]

Architecture[change | change source]

At macOS's core is a POSIX-compliant operating system built on top of the XNU kernel, with standard Unix facilities available from the command line interface. Apple has released this family of software as a free and open source operating system named Darwin. On top of Darwin, Apple layered a number of components, including the Aqua interface and the Finder, to complete the GUI-based operating system which is macOS.[21]

The Darwin subsystem in macOS is in charge of managing the file system, which includes the Unix permissions layer. In 2003 and 2005, two Macworld editors expressed criticism of the permission scheme; Ted Landau called misconfigured permissions "the most common frustration" in macOS, while Rob Griffiths suggested that some users may even have to reset permissions every day, a process which can take up to 15 minutes.[22] More recently, another Macworld editor, Dan Frakes, called the procedure of repairing permissions vastly overused.[23] He argues that macOS typically handles permissions properly without user interference, and resetting permissions should only be tried when problems emerge.[24]

The architecture of macOS incorporates a layered design:[25] the layered frameworks aid rapid development of applications by providing existing code for common tasks.[26] Apple provides its own software development tools, most prominently an integrated development environment called Xcode. Xcode provides interfaces to compilers that support several programming languages including C, C++, Objective-C, and Swift. For the Apple–Intel transition, it was modified so that developers could build their applications as a universal binary, which provides compatibility with both the Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macintosh lines.[27] First and third-party applications can be controlled programatically using the AppleScript framework,[28] retained from the classic Mac OS,[29] or using the newer Automator application that offers pre-written tasks that do not require programming knowledge.[30]

References[change | change source]

  1. "What Is the I/O Kit?". IOKit Fundamentals. Apple considered several programming languages for the I/O Kit and chose a restricted subset of C++.
  2. "What's New in Swift". Apple Developer (Video). June 14, 2016. At 2:40. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  3. "macOS – How to Upgrade – Apple". Apple. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  4. Patel, Nilay (February 16, 2012). "Apple officially renames Mac OS X to OS X, drops the 'Mac'". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  5. "Mac OS X Version 10.5 on Intel-based Macintosh computers". The Open Group. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  6. "Apple Unveils Mac OS X". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  7. "Apple Previews Next Version of Mac OS X" (Press release). Apple. July 18, 2001. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  8. "Apple Previews "Jaguar", the Next Major Release of Mac OS X" (Press release). Apple. May 6, 2002. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  9. "Apple Preiews Mac OS X "Panther"" (Press release). Apple. June 23, 2003. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  10. "Steve Jobs to Kick Off Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2004 with Preview of Mac OS X "Tiger"" (Press release). Apple. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  11. "Apple Executives to Preview Mac OS X "Leopard" at WWDC 2006 Keynote" (Press release). Apple. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  12. "Apple Previews Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Developers" (Press release). Apple. June 9, 2008. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  13. "Apple Gives Sneak Peek of Mac OS X Lion" (Press release). Apple. October 20, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  14. "Apple Releases OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview with Over 100 New Features" (Press release). Apple. February 16, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  15. "Mountain Lion Available Today From Mac App Store" (Press release). Apple. July 25, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Apple Releases Developer Preview of OS X Mavericks With More Than 200 New Features" (Press release). Apple. June 10, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  17. "Apple Announces OS X El Capitan with Refined Experience & Improved Performance". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  18. "Apple previews major update with macOS Sierra". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  19. Chin, Monica (June 6, 2022). "Apple announces macOS Ventura with new Stage Manager organization tool". The Verge. Archived from the original on June 7, 2022. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  20. "macOS Sonoma is available today". Apple. September 26, 2023. Archived from the original on September 26, 2023. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  21. Grothaus, Michael (April 12, 2011). "Mac OS X Lion to tone down the Aqua". The Unofficial Apple Weblog. AOL. Archived from the original on August 28, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  22. Griffiths, Rob (February 2005). "Prevent Mac Disasters". Macworld. IDG. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  23. Frakes, Dan (August 2006). "Repairing permissions: what you need to know". Macworld. IDG. Archived from the original on February 19, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  24. Frakes, Dan (June 2008). "Five Mac maintenance myths". Macworld. IDG. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  25. "About the Technologies for Developing Mac OS X Software". Apple. Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  26. Zepko, Tom (November 6, 2003). "Why Cocoa?". Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
  27. "Adopting Universal Binaries on Mac OS X". Apple. February 22, 2007. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved December 15, 2008.
  28. Productions, Nyhthawk. "AppleScript: Graphic User Interface (GUI) Scripting". www.macosxautomation.com. Archived from the original on November 21, 2016. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  29. "AppleScript Introduction". whitefiles.org. Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  30. "The really simple guide to Automator in OS X on the Mac | RAW Mac". www.rawinfopages.com. Archived from the original on January 3, 2017. Retrieved January 3, 2017.

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]