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macOS Big Sur vs Catalina: Which One Reigns Supreme?

In the world of Apple operating systems, it can be difficult for Mac users to determine whether they should upgrade their existing macOS version. With macOS Big Sur, the successor to macOS 10.15 Catalina, now available for download on eligible Macs, users must weigh the pros and cons of upgrading. This comprehensive guide will help you decide whether it's worth the upgrade or stick with your trusted Catalina setup.

Macos Big Sur Vs Catalina: Which One Reigns Supreme?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the key differences between macOS Big Sur and Catalina for informed system upgrades.
  • Explore the new features and improvements in macOS Big Sur compared to Catalina.
  • Learn how macOS Big Sur and Catalina impact your Mac's performance and user experience.
  • Discover compatibility considerations and decide which macOS version suits your needs.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest macOS versions to make the most of your Mac's capabilities.

macOS Big Sur Vs Catalina: What Are The New Features Of macOS Big Sur?

Redesigned Interface And App Icons

With macOS Big Sur, Apple has introduced a complete redesign of its interface, including its app icons, menu bar, dock, and new features/layouts found in the Control Center and Notification Center. These design changes aim to make the OS feel fresher and more aligned with iOS, creating a seamless experience for users who own both macOS and iOS devices.


Control Center And Updated Notification Center

One significant addition to macOS Big Sur is the Control Center. This new feature consolidates systems controls such as display brightness, sound volume, Memoji, and other essential settings into a single, easily accessible panel. Notification Center has also received an update, combining notifications and widgets into a single view, allowing for a more streamlined and customizable user experience.


Safari Improvements And Privacy Report

macOS Big Sur brings substantial updates to the Safari browser, with performance improvements claiming to load frequently visited sites 50% faster than Google Chrome. Alongside these speed updates, the new macOS version includes a privacy report feature within Safari, providing users with a summary of the cross-site trackers Safari has blocked, enhancing the overall privacy and security while browsing the web.


Upgrade To macOS Big Sur: Compatibility And System Requirements


Supported Mac Models For macOS Big Sur And Catalina

While macOS 11 Big Sur is compatible with many Mac models from 2013 and later (such as MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and Mac Pro), users should check their specific Mac model to determine if it supports the upgrade. The list of compatible Macs differs slightly from those supported by macOS Catalina, with a few older models left behind.


Apple Silicon Compatibility

macOS Big Sur is the first operating system to accept Apple Silicon-powered Macs fully. As Apple continues transitioning from Intel processors to its in-house developed processor technology, macOS Big Sur is optimized to take full advantage of this new hardware, improving performance and battery life on the latest Macs.


Third-Party App Compatibility

When upgrading to a new macOS version, it's essential to consider third-party app compatibility issues that may arise after the update. While many developers are working to ensure their apps are supported on macOS Big Sur, it's always a good idea to check if your essential apps are compatible before upgrading.


macOS Big Sur vs Catalina: Performance Differences And Optimizations


macOS Big Sur Performance Improvements

With macOS Big Sur, Apple has focused on improving performance across the board. This includes faster opening and closing of apps, smoother animations, and more efficient power usage. For users looking for the latest and most optimized macOS experience, Big Sur is the logical choice.


macOS Catalina Compared To macOS Big Sur

macOS Catalina is a stable and reliable operating system, but it lacks many new features, visual improvements, and under-the-hood optimizations found in macOS Big Sur. By not upgrading, users will miss out on the latest functionality and performance updates available in Big Sur.


Optimizing Your Mac For The Best Performance

Regardless of the macOS version you choose, optimizing your Mac for the best performance is essential. This includes performing regular software updates, cleaning up old files and applications, managing startup items, and ensuring your Mac isn't running unnecessary apps in the background.


Is It safe To Update To macOS Big Sur From Catalina?


Backing Up Your Mac Before The Upgrade

Before updating to macOS Big Sur, it's crucial to back up your Mac first. This ensures you can quickly restore your system if something goes wrong during the upgrade process.


Checking App Compatibility Before Updating

As mentioned earlier, third-party app compatibility is essential when upgrading to a new macOS version. Users should check if their essential apps are compatible with macOS Big Sur before upgrading.


Dealing With Potential Issues After The Upgrade

While Apple has put significant effort into making the macOS Big Sur update process as smooth as possible, some users might still encounter issues after upgrading. In such cases, it's crucial to be informed about potential problems and know how to troubleshoot or seek assistance from Apple Support or community forums.

macOS Big Sur Vs Catalina FAQ:

Q: What Differences Will I Notice In Safari Between macOS Big Sur And Catalina?

A: In macOS Big Sur, Safari has received a significant update with improved performance, privacy features, and customizability. In comparison to Catalina, Safari in Big Sur offers faster page loading, improved battery life, and new privacy reports. Additionally, Big Sur includes a customizable start page and improved support for browser extensions.


Q: Are There Any Differences In The App Store Between macOS Big Sur And Catalina?

A: The App Store in macOS Big Sur has primarily retained Catalina's features, but it includes some design changes and improved app curation. Navigation is more refined, and the layout is more visually appealing than Catalina's.


Q: What Should I Know Before Updating Big Sur From Catalina?

A: Before updating to Big Sur, ensure your Mac is compatible with the new macOS version. Back up your files and data, and check for any potential software incompatibilities with your existing apps. The update to Big Sur is available through the App Store, and the installation process is straightforward.


Q: Is MacOS 11 Big Sur Better Than Catalina?

A: macOS Big Sur comes with numerous new features, an updated design, and additional functionality compared to Catalina. Big Sur introduces a revamped Notification Centre and Control Centre, redesigned icons in the dock, and enhanced apps like Messages and Safari. While personal preferences may vary, many users consider Big Sur a significant upgrade over Catalina.


Q: Can My Mac Run Big Sur Or Am I Limited To Catalina?

A: Most Macs from 2013 and later can run Big Sur, but some older devices are incompatible. To check compatibility, visit the official Apple website and look for a list of compatible devices. If your device is inconsistent, you will be restricted to using Catalina or earlier macOS versions.


Q: How Can I Update My macOS To Big Sur From An Older Version like OS X?

A: If you're running an older version of macOS or OS X, check your Mac's compatibility with Big Sur on the Apple website to ensure you can upgrade. To update, go to the App Store and search for macOS Big Sur. Follow the on-screen instructions to download and install the update.


Q: Does Upgrading To macOS 11 Big Sur from Catalina Offer New Features In The Notification Centre?

A: Big Sur introduces a redesigned Notification Centre that combines your notifications and widgets into one streamlined view. The notifications are grouped by app; you can interact with them directly from the Notification Centre. Widgets are now available in various sizes and can be customized to suit your preferences.


Q: What Are The Differences Between Big Sur And Catalina In Terms Of Design And User Interface?

A: Big Sur features a refreshed design with more spacious and modern elements than Catalina. It includes changes to app icons, window shapes, menus, and an updated dock and control center. Transparency and depth effects have been refined, and the overall appearance is more consistent across different apps and system components.


Q: Is It Worth Upgrading My macOS From Catalina To Big Sur If I have A New Mac?

A: If you have a new Mac, it's recommended to upgrade to macOS Big Sur as it introduces various improvements, additional features, and an updated design. Big Sur is optimized for the latest Mac hardware, and upgrading will provide you with the best possible experience and performance.


Q: Can My New Mac Mini Model Run Big Sur Or Am I Limited To Catalina?

A: The latest Mac Mini models are compatible with macOS Big Sur. Big Sur is designed and optimized for Apple's new M1 chip, which powers some of the latest Mac Mini models. You can easily upgrade from Catalina to Big Sur through the App Store to enjoy the updates and benefits of macOS 11.

Final Thought:

Benefits Of Updating To macOS Big Sur

Upgrading to macOS Big Sur offers new features, a refreshed interface, and performance improvements that may make the update worthwhile for many users. Additionally, ensuring you're running the latest macOS version guarantees that you have the most recent security updates and optimizations for your Mac's hardware.


Potential Drawbacks Of The Upgrade

However, some users may experience app compatibility issues, slower performance on older hardware, or other challenges post-upgrade. Assessing these risks and ensuring you're prepared to deal with potential problems can help you make a more informed decision about the upgrade.


Deciding On The Right Time To Upgrade

Ultimately, whether to upgrade from macOS Catalina 10.5 to macOS Big Sur will depend on individual priorities, needs, and expectations. It's important to weigh the pros and cons, evaluate the compatibility and performance impact, and decide based on your situation. If you feel the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks and have taken precautions such as backing up your data and checking app compatibility, macOS Big Sur might be the upgrade you're looking for to keep your Mac up-to-date and running smoothly.

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macOS 10.15 Catalina, macOS 11 Big Sur, macos big sur, macos catalina, macos update


About the author

Ravi Shah


Ravi is the head of Content Strategy at iFixScreens Corporate. With over a decade of experience writing technical content for his readers, Ravi has helped thousands of readers with helpful content, tips, and tricks. He mainly writes content related to gadget repairs, such as iPhones, Smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

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