Helping you get the most out of your Mac, iPhone & iPad

Bay mac's help desk with Steve Paris

Q: What’s new in Apple’s latest system upgrade, and should I install it on my Mac?

A: For nearly 20 years, the Mac operating system has been on version 10 (or X). Now of course this was merely a commercial gimmick, as all the .1, .2, .3, etc updates were actually major revisions worthy of a full number to themselves. But at the end of 2020, Apple did away with that convention with the release of “Big Sur”, the name for their newest version, finally bumping up the number to 11.

The changes are pretty radical both internally and externally, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. In fact, I’ve had a smoother experience upgrading to Big Sur than to Catalina (2019’s update); when that happened numerous apps which hadn’t been transitioned to the latest architecture could no longer run.

Now I can’t test all apps out there, but unlike with Catalina, all the ones I use (ranging from word processing to messaging, and video editing) work fine on Big Sur.

The biggest change is that the Mac looks much more like a phone or tablet OS. The icons are different, and the whole interface feels more compact and space-saving. There are loads of features brought over from your iPad, like a Control Centre to access your network controls, sound and display brightness, for instance.

My favourite upgrade is with Safari which actively stops commercial web sites from tracking you across the web. There’s even a privacy report informing you how many trackers have been thwarted in the last week (pic above).

If you want to stay ahead of the curve or view the new features as valuable, go ahead and upgrade – it’s free, and most Macs from 2014 onwards are compatible. Just remember to back up your computer before you do – just in case 🙂

Steve Paris is an internationally published writer, an Apple Certified Trainer, and provides consultancy, training and troubleshooting services to the Swansea area. You can email him at or contact him on 077-8866-0407.


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