First Look: macOS Big Sur With Redesign, Safari Updates, New Messages App and More

Apple on Monday unveiled macOS Big Sur, the newest version of macOS that's going to be released in the fall. Named after Big Sur, California, renown for its scenery, the new update features a fresh, clean design along with some useful new features.


We went hands-on with macOS Big Sur in our latest YouTube video, giving MacRumors readers a first look at what the new software looks like.

macOS hasn't had a major interface overhaul for some time now, and macOS Big Sur is a welcome change, refining and improving on the existing design for a new look that's both fresh and familiar.

macosbigsurcontrolcenter
The menu bar is now more translucent and better blends with the wallpaper, and it's more customizable. There's a dedicated Control Center that provides access to WiFi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Do Not Disturb, display brightness, volume level, and more, and you can customize it to your liking.

The Control Center is a major quality of life improvement in macOS, putting most of the settings and controls that you need just a click away while also streamlining the menu bar. Also new to the menu bar is a revamped battery icon that brings back the reading of how much time remaining you have on a battery charge, something that was removed way back in macOS Sierra.

macosbigsurnotifications
Apple also added a whole new battery usage section to System Preferences so you can see how your battery has drained over the last 24 hours or the last 10 days.

macosbigsurbattery
Next to the Control Center, there's an upgraded Notification Center with new widgets that can be accessed by clicking on the right side of the menu bar. The new widgets look similar to the widgets in iOS 14, and are now available in multiple sizes and with a fresh design. Widgets are now grouped by app, which makes incoming notifications much easier to parse.

macosbigsurwidgets
Throughout the operating system, Apple has added more rounded and refined corners, full-height translucent sidebars for apps, and redesigned icons. Icons for Apple apps are all now rounded square-shapes, for a neater Dock, and buttons and controls for apps appear when needed and disappear when not needed to put more focus on content.

macosbigsurdockandicons
Nothing in macOS Big Sur looks wildly different and there's nothing to relearn, but it does offer up a clean design that's a refreshing change of pace. Notably, a lot of the sounds in macOS have been refreshed, and Apple even brought back the startup chime that many Mac users have missed.

macosbigsursidebar
Safari received a major overhaul with a new customizable start page. You can choose your own wallpaper and choose what's displayed on the page, picking from options like frequently visited sites, Siri Suggestions, Reading List, iCloud Tabs, and more.

macosbigsursafari
Apple is adding better support for extensions, which can be downloaded from a dedicated section of the Mac App Store. Extensions can be installed for every site, a single site, or a single site for a limited amount of time, giving you more control than ever over what extensions can do and see.

macosbigsursafariprivacy
Privacy was a major focus in macOS Big Sur, as usual. Along with the deeper controls over extensions, Apple has added a Privacy Report and Privacy button that provide details on the trackers that different websites are serving up so you can see the data a website is attempting to learn about you.

Safari has a built-in translation feature that can automatically translate entire websites written in seven different languages, which is a handy option that will let people abandon add-on translators. Safari is also faster than ever, with Apple adding performance and efficiency improvements.

Messages for Mac is now a Catalyst app, which means that it adopts many of the features available in the iOS version of Messages. It supports all of the new iOS 14 Messages features like pinned conversations, mentions, and inline replies.

It also now works with some older functions like Message Effects, and there's a new Memoji creator so you can create Memoji and share Memoji stickers through the Mac Messages app. An all new search interface also makes it easier to find links, photos, and text from older conversations.

macosbigsurpinnedmessages
Like Messages, Maps has been updated to bring its functionality more in line with Maps for iOS. Cycling directions and routes with EV vehicles are available, as are Guides, a new feature for finding awesome spots to visit around you.

Maps now supports Look Around, it works with indoor maps for the first time, and Maps for Mac can be used to view shared ETAs so you can keep track of when friends and family will arrive at a location from the desktop.

macosbigsurlookaround
The Photos app has new editing capabilities like a new Retouch tool, Home app improvements allow for face recognition for cameras, AirPods feature faster and more efficient automatic device switching, ‌Siri‌ can answer a wider range of questions, and there are some improvements coming to the ‌Mac App Store‌ that will make it easier to view and understand privacy policies.

There are tons of other smaller changes in macOS Big Sur, and we'll cover those in future videos and in our macOS Big Sur roundup, which will be updated with a full feature list later this week.

Big Sur is available for developers at the current time, but Apple also plans to make a beta available for public beta testers in July. macOS Big Sur will see a fall release alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7.

Top Rated Comments

StellarVixen Avatar
29 months ago
I am bothered by inconsistency in UI design. For example, why is Messages app 3D-ish, while Calendar is absolutely flat?


Either go one way or another. Looks to me like they still haven't made up their mind yet.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Salty Pirate Avatar
29 months ago
I like the look of it
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StellarVixen Avatar
29 months ago

Not so sure about the start up chime. I used to like it, but have gotten used to it not making sounds. Since I use my Mac at work and arrive a little late, people always hear when I turned on my Mac.
So, you need Apple to cover your bad work discipline?


Anyway, it can be turned off.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
roland.g Avatar
29 months ago
Battery is replacing Energy Saver? My Mac Mini and iMac run off the wall. What Battery?

And don't get us started on how the battery icon like many others is so bad and in such stark contrast to the direction most of the other UI elements are evolving.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacFather Avatar
29 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chris4565 Avatar
29 months ago
The design is controversial but I personally really like the more playful, colorful approach + the rounded corners.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.0.2 With Bug Fixes for iPhone 14 Pro Camera Vibration, Copy/Paste Issue and More

Thursday September 22, 2022 1:04 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS 16.0.2, addressing a number of bugs that iPhone 14 owners have been experiencing since the new devices launched. iOS 16.0.2 comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 16, and it follows iOS 16.0.1, an update made available to iPhone 14 owners on launch day. The update is available for all iPhones that are capable of running iOS 16. The iOS 16.0.2 update can be...
maxresdefault

Video Review: Four Days With the iPhone 14 Pro Max

Wednesday September 21, 2022 7:49 am PDT by
Apple on Friday released the new iPhone 14 models, and MacRumors videographer Dan picked one up on launch day. He's been using the iPhone 14 Pro Max non-stop since it came out, and over on the MacRumors YouTube channel, has shared his initial thoughts on the day-to-day experience with the latest iPhone. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Dan's mini review highlights...
iPad Pro Big Ol Logo

Five Features Rumored for the New iPad Pro Expected Next Month

Wednesday September 21, 2022 1:36 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will announce new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models as soon as next month. The new iPads will be the first update to the iPad Pro series since April 2021 and will be an overall incremental upgrade that brings new capabilities and functionality to the highest-end iPad. According to reports, Apple is planning an event for October to announce the new iPad Pro models, a...
ios 16 lock screen feature

Some iOS 16 Users Complain About Slow Spotlight Search and Battery Drain

Wednesday September 21, 2022 4:25 am PDT by
It's been nine days since Apple released iOS 16 to the public, bringing major changes to the Lock Screen, Messages, Maps, and more. In the days following the release, some users have encountered several issues on their iPhones, ranging from slow system performance to battery drain. In the past few days, iPhone 14 Pro users have shared specific bugs related to Apple's latest high-end iPhones, ...
Dynamic Island For Android Users Feature

Android App Copying iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island Released on Play Store

Thursday September 22, 2022 7:57 am PDT by
A copycat version of the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island has arrived on Android's Google Play Store in the form of an app called "dynamicSpot." The app, still in beta, offers customers several different experiences at the top of their smartphones. In its current form, dynamicSpot offers playback control for songs, timers, battery status, and more features coming soon, according to the app's...
facebook meta

Meta Sued Over Tracking iPhone Users Despite Apple's Privacy Features

Thursday September 22, 2022 5:12 am PDT by
Meta is facing a new proposed class action lawsuit that accuses it of tracking and collecting the personal data of iPhone users, despite features and policies made by Apple which are meant to stop that same type of tracking. In August, it was revealed that with the Facebook and Instagram apps, Meta can track all of a user's key taps, keyboard inputs, and more, when using the in-app browser....
apple watch ultra reddit 1

Lucky Customer Gets New Apple Watch Ultra Two Days Early

Wednesday September 21, 2022 2:03 pm PDT by
With millions of devices shipping out to customers with every Apple launch, there's occasionally someone who gets lucky and gets a new product ahead of schedule. This time around, Redditor playalisticadillac received an Apple Watch Ultra from AT&T two days before the official debut, sharing some images on the social media site. The images include an unboxing and comparisons to the...
new airpods pro ear tips

Apple Explains Why Second-Generation AirPods Pro Ear Tips Are Incompatible With Original AirPods Pro

Thursday September 22, 2022 3:12 pm PDT by
Apple today explained why the new silicone ear tips for the second-generation AirPods Pro are not officially compatible with the original AirPods Pro. In an updated support document, Apple said the original AirPods Pro ear tips have "noticeably denser mesh" than the second-generation ear tips. Apple did not provide any additional details, but the mesh density could result in acoustical...