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.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

(View all)
Avatar
14 weeks 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)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
I like the look of it
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 weeks 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)
Avatar
14 weeks 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)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
Deleted.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
The design is controversial but I personally really like the more playful, colorful approach + the rounded corners.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories: iOS 14 Feature Tour, 'iPhone 12 mini' Rumors, Apple Watch Band Controversy

Saturday September 26, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Things started to calm down a bit this week following last week's rush of media event, Apple Watch and iPad launches, and the release of iOS 14 and other operating updates. But that doesn't mean there wasn't still a lot of news, from digging deeper into iOS 14 to more iPhone 12 rumors to the uproar over trying to exchange band sizes on the new Apple Watch. On top of all of that, we heard...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

iOS 14: 'Phoenix 2' Space Shooter Delivers Playable Demo via App Clips

Saturday September 26, 2020 2:08 pm PDT by
One of the new features that arrived in iOS 14 is called App Clips. App Clips is described by Apple to be a "small part of your app" that can be available to users at just the right moment.App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds. Instead of requiring an App Store download, they can be loaded and run via...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...

Upcoming Xbox App Update Will Let Xbox Users Stream Games to iPhone and iPad

Friday September 25, 2020 11:58 am PDT by
Microsoft is testing a new version of its Xbox app that will let Xbox users play games remotely on their iPhones and iPads using streaming functionality. The new feature was rolled out to TestFlight users this morning. The Xbox streaming option is distinct from Microsoft's xCloud service, which it has been clashing with Apple over. xCloud is designed to stream games from Microsoft's servers, ...

Microsoft Internally Worked on a Mac OS X Aqua Inspired Windows XP Theme

Saturday September 26, 2020 10:51 am PDT by
Microsoft tested a Windows XP theme that closely resembled Mac OS X's Aqua GUI, reports The Verge. A recent Windows XP source code leak has revealed various unreleased themes that Microsoft developed in 2000, at a time when Microsoft was in heated competition with Apple regarding desktop operating systems. One of the themes, codenamed "Candy," mirrors the design of Apple's Aqua...

Video Offers Closer Look at Apple Face Mask

Friday September 25, 2020 5:25 am PDT by
YouTube channel Unbox Therapy has today shared a new video giving a closer look at Apple's reusable face masks for corporate and retail employees. Apple's own face mask was designed by the company's Engineering and Industrial Design teams amid the global health crisis for corporate and retail employees, and the boxes include Apple's famous "Designed by Apple in California" text. The...

iPhone 12 May Launch Earlier Than Usual in South Korea

Monday September 28, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 12 lineup may launch earlier than usual in South Korea, reports The Korea Herald. South Korean telecoms firms speaking to The Korea Herald have said that the iPhone 12 lineup will launch ahead of its usual schedule. Normally, the release of new iPhones in South Korea comes about one month after launch in the United States. Last year, the iPhone 11 arrived in South Korea ...

New Version of Microsoft Office Coming Next Year That Won't Require a Subscription

Thursday September 24, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Microsoft will next year offer a new perpetual release of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that doesn't require a subscription to use, according to the software giant (via Windows Central). "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021," said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange server,...

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...