All the Top New Features in MacOS Sonoma

Apple has officially announced the next version of its desktop operating system. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect and which Macs are supported.
Apple MacOS laptops and desktop
Photograph: Apple

There's a new version of macOS in town, and it's called macOS Sonoma. At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple unveiled all the new features coming to its desktop operating system, from interactive widgets and new video conferencing tools to enhancements to Safari. We break down the top features coming to Macs later this year, and whether your machine is supported or not. If you'd like to see the full list of changes, Apple has it right here.

Is Your Mac Compatible?

MacOS Sonoma, also known as macOS 14, is a free update for Apple hardware, but older devices might not be supported. To find out which Mac model you have, tap on the Apple icon in the menu bar in the upper-left corner of your screen and click on About This Mac. Here’s a list of all the models that will be able to run Sonoma. 

  • MacBook Air: 2018 and later
  • MacBook Pro: 2018 and later
  • Mac Mini: 2018 and later
  • iMac: 2019 and later
  • iMac Pro: 2017 and later
  • Mac Pro: 2019 and later
  • Mac Studio: 2022 and later
When Will MacOS Sonoma Arrive?

MacOS Sonoma is in a developer beta right now. Next month, expect Apple to launch a public beta. That means anyone will be able to download and try it out, but you may want to hold off as there might be a lot of bugs and glitches. Apple will continue to issue new beta versions and polish the experience until the fall, when it will officially launch Sonoma in September or October.  

Homescreen Widgets
Photograph: Apple

Apple introduced widgets to the Notification Center on Macs in macOS Big Sur—click on the right-hand corner of the display to see glanceable details from apps like Weather, Notes, and News. Soon, you'll have the option to bring these widgets to the desktop itself. To prevent them from cluttering up your screen and distracting you while you're working, they'll blend into the wallpaper when you have an app open. 

They're interactive too—you can play or pause media, control smart home gadgets, take notes, check off reminders, and keep track of calendar appointments, right from the desktop. If you have an iPhone, you'll be able to bring your iOS widgets to your desktop as well if your phone is on the same Wi-Fi network or nearby.

Enhanced Screen Sharing 
Photograph: Apple

Sharing your screen during work meetings is convenient—especially when you're presenting. But it's often not too intuitive—you have to awkwardly click around to turn it on, choose a screen, and then say, “Can you see my screen?” Sonoma is making it a little more user-friendly. 

A new effect called Presenter Overlay will show the screen you want to share next to your own head, almost like a weather reporter standing in front of a weather map. You can also start screen sharing by clicking a dedicated button in the top-left corner of whichever app you're using (Apple says it will work within any video conferencing app). The company is bringing Reactions to video calls too (the same as what you'll find in the Messages app). With a hand gesture, you can trigger balloons, hearts, or confetti to pop up during your call. These features are only available on Macs powered by Apple's own processors (not Intel machines).

Speaking of, Apple Macs with M-series chipsets are privy to a new mode in the Screen Sharing app that lets you get responsive remote access to your MacBook when you're away from it. That includes high frame rates and low-latency audio, with support for up to two virtual displays and support for reference color.

More Privacy in Safari
Photograph: Apple

Apple is adding more safety features to its preexisting private browsing feature in Safari (which keeps the browser from saving your history). Rather than closing your tabs when you step away, you'll be able to lock your private browsing windows whenever you walk away from the device. 

New in Safari is also the ability to separate the browser via profiles, meaning you can create one profile for work and another for your personal life. It'll separate your history, extensions, cookies, Tab Groups, and Favorites. It's easy to switch back and forth. 

You'll also be able to create web apps, which allow you to turn your favorite websites into an app-like experience that you can place in the dock. Instead of opening a browser window, these web apps will launch and act like a traditional macOS app when you click on it. You can get notifications from them, and even segment them in tools like Stage Manager. 

Additionally, Apple is making it easy to share passwords with close friends, family, and colleagues with shared accounts. When you create a group, everyone will be able to add and edit passwords and share them through iCloud Keychain (with end-to-end encryption).

Game Mode
Video: Apple

Gaming on a Mac? You'll appreciate the new Game Mode feature for graphically intensive titles. It ensures the Mac gives high priority to the CPU and GPU while playing a game, delivering a smoother experience with consistent frame rates. It'll also lower the audio latency when you're using AirPods and reduce input latency with supported PlayStation and Xbox controllers. 

New Screen Savers
Video: Apple

If you love the preloaded screensavers that come with your Mac, you'll be happy to hear that new options are coming—with slow-motion videos of locations from all around the world including Arizona, California, and Hong Kong. The login prompt has also moved to the bottom of the screen, so it'll no longer get in the way of the image on your display. 

Accessibility Features
Photograph: Apple

MacOS Sonoma will include a wide range of new accessibility features for vision, cognitive, and speech accessibility. Among the list of capabilities are phonetic suggestions that appear when dictating and editing text via Voice Control, animated images (like GIFs) that can be paused in Safari or Messages, Live Speech where users can type messages to be spoken aloud during FaceTime and phone calls, the option to customize text size on Mac apps, and the ability to connect Made for iPhone hearing devices to your Mac.