macOS Sonoma review 2024: new features and improvements

macOS Sonoma is a minor update for macOS, but it brings a number of new features and improvements, including new widgets, screensavers and reactions.

It was released on September 26 by Apple. It is the latest version of its Macintosh operating system. Among the most exciting changes are new desktop widgets, a new game mode, and a set of improvements to favourite apps like Safari and Messages. Anyway, I think Sonoma will make your Mac better and easier to use, but you won’t notice any huge changes. I’ve been testing beta versions of macOS Sonoma for months. These early versions gave me a sneak peek at what improvements like interactive widgets, a more powerful Safari, and a dedicated Game Mode would bring. Even though it’s not a huge change, macOS Sonoma makes your Mac more useful and fun to use.

macOS Sonoma: Description

macOS Sonoma is the newest major version of Apple’s Mac operating system, and it can now be downloaded. A redesigned desktop, better video conferencing, and a faster Safari browser are just a few of the new features and improvements that come with the update. It’s easy to tell that macOS Sonoma has changed because of the new desktop. Now that widgets are on the desktop, users can quickly get to information and controls for services and apps without having to open them. You can change the size and placement of widgets, and the App Store is always adding new ones.

The better video conferencing features in macOS Sonoma are another big change. Background blur, Center Stage, and Portrait mode are now all available on FaceTime. These features were only available on iOS and iPadOS before. This makes FaceTime a better and more flexible way for Mac users to video chat. A lot of changes have been made to Safari in macOS Sonoma as well. Tab Groups now work in the browser. These let users organize their tabs into groups and quickly switch between them. There is also a new Privacy Report in Safari that lets users see how websites are tracking them and block trackers for each website.

macOS Sonoma: Release Date

The most recent version of Apple’s desktop operating system, macOS Sonoma, came out on September 26, 2023. It is available as a free download for all compatible Macs. There are a lot of new features and improvements in this update, which is pretty big. The ability to run iOS and iPadOS apps directly on the Mac is one of the coolest new things about macOS Sonoma.

This is possible with a new technology called Universal Control, which lets people use a single keyboard and mouse to control multiple devices without any problems. The brand-new Live Text feature is another big change in macOS Sonoma. This lets people choose text from images and videos and interact with it directly. Like, users can copy and paste text from images or even translate text as they read it.

macOS Sonoma Key Features Table

macOS Sonoma is a small update to Apple’s Mac operating system, but it adds and improves some features that users will appreciate. There are new desktop widgets, animated screensavers, and animated Reactions that you can use during video calls. Sonoma also adds a new Game Mode that can make your Mac run better when you play games.

FeatureDescription
WidgetsWidgets are now available on the Mac, giving you quick access to information from your favorite apps and services.
Game ModeGame Mode optimizes your Mac’s performance for gaming, giving you a smoother and more responsive experience.
New screensaversmacOS Sonoma includes a new set of stunning slow-motion screensavers.
Animated ReactionsYou can now use animated Reactions during FaceTime calls to add some fun and personality to your conversations.
Web Apps in the DockYou can now save a favorite website to your Dock as a web app, giving you quick and easy access to it.
Silo ProfilesSilo Profiles let you create separate profiles for different tasks or activities, such as work, school, or personal use.
Improved SpotlightSpotlight is now more powerful and intuitive, making it easier to find the files and information you need.
Enhanced Accessibility featuresmacOS Sonoma includes a number of new and improved accessibility features, making it easier for people with disabilities to use their Macs.
Official LinkVisit Website

macOS Sonoma: Supported Devices

macOS Sonoma review

After using the beta versions of Sonoma, I like what it adds, and I think you should upgrade if you can when the final version comes out. Not sure if you’ll be able to choose? Apple says the following Macs will be able to run macOS Sonoma:

  • MacBook Pro: 2018 and later
  • MacBook Air: 2018 and later
  • Mac Pro: 2019 and later
  • Mac mini: 2018 and later
  • iMac: 2019 and later
  • iMac Pro: 2017
  • Mac Studio: all models

This means that macOS Sonoma will not be compatible with the following Macs:

  • MacBook Pro: 2017 and earlier
  • MacBook Air: 2017 and earlier
  • Mac mini: 2017 and earlier
  • iMac: 2018 and earlier
  • Mac Pro: 2019 and earlier

Here are some of the reasons why Apple may have dropped support for some older Macs:

  • Some of the older Macs might not have the right parts to run macOS Sonoma. For example, macOS Sonoma needs a Mac with an Apple silicon chip or an Intel chip from the 8th generation or later that is part of the Coffee Lake or Amber Lake processor.
  • Apple may not give security updates for older Macs anymore. This means that if these Macs were running macOS Sonoma, they would be more likely to be attacked by hackers.
  • Apple might want to use its time and money to help people with newer Macs.

macOS Sonoma: Features

There are a lot of new features and improvements in macOS Sonoma, which is a big update to the macOS operating system. It’s easier to stay focused and organized with the new Desktop Widgets and Stage Manager. It’s also easy to work on different devices with Universal Control. These apps are now even better and more powerful thanks to the updates for Safari, Messages, Mail, Notes, Maps, Photos, Music, TV, and Games. Because of the new features for accessibility, macOS Sonoma is now easier to use than ever.

Screen Savers and Lock Screen

macOS Sonoma review

The brand-new Lock Screen is the first thing that will stand out about macOS Sonoma. Apple has made the user’s picture and name less noticeable by making them smaller and lower. This makes the chosen screen saver stand out more. I really like this change because now when I wake up my Mac, I see a beautiful picture instead of my personal information. Since I’m the only one who uses my computer, I don’t need it to pay attention to my name or picture. Apple has also added dozens of new screen savers, some of which are also available on tvOS 17, to give macOS users more choices.

You can pick from a lot of different shots, such as ones taken from above, underwater, and more. One cool thing about this screen saver is that it continues to move as it blends into your desktop screen after you enter your password. So, instead of switching from an animated Lock Screen to a static desktop wallpaper all at once, macOS Sonoma briefly animates the desktop to make the change go more smoothly. I think the new animations give the system a more polished look and help it keep its famous fluidity.

macOS Sonoma: Desktop Widgets

macOS Sonoma review

The most noticeable change in Sonoma is that widgets can now be put anywhere on the desktop. It’s the latest of many features, like the Notification Center, that Apple first put on the iPhone and iPad and is now adding to macOS. Sonoma lets you drag widgets from the Notification Center or a Widget Gallery to any spot on your desktop. Widgets on the desktop are also a big part of Windows 11, and long-time Windows users will remember the annoying gadgets in Windows Vista that did the same thing.

Widget TypePlacement FlexibilityCompatibilityNoteworthy Features
WeatherAnywhere on desktopmacOS, Windows 11Real-time weather updates
CalendarAnywhere on desktopmacOS, Windows 11Integration with scheduling and events
iPad-like ScreensAnywhere on desktopmacOSAllows interactive functions like playing music and accessing Safari reading list
iPhone WidgetsAnywhere on desktop (iOS 17)macOSAccess iPhone widgets on Mac, even without corresponding app installed on phone
Alignment GuidesAssists in grid arrangementmacOSFacilitates easy and visually appealing widget arrangement
Background AdaptationFades into desktop colormacOSWidgets seamlessly blend with the desktop background when app window is open
Stage ManagerOption to hide all widgetsmacOSProvides the ability to conceal all desktop widgets for a clutter-free workspace (to be discussed)

They work much better now that screens are bigger and graphics are better. Aside from the obvious weather and calendar widgets, you can also choose widgets that look like iPad screens and are big enough to play music or choose websites from a Safari reading list. When iOS 17 comes out, you’ll be able to put iPhone widgets on your Mac desktop even if you haven’t installed the corresponding app on your phone. One nice feature is that alignment guides show up when you drag a widget from the new Widget Gallery or the Notification Center to the desktop.

This makes it easy to arrange widgets in a grid that looks nice. Another detail is that when an app window is open, your widgets fade into the background and take on the color of the desktop below them. Even though this is a small detail, my first thought is that I don’t want widgets to distract me on the desktop of my laptop. However, I might be tempted to fill one end of a desktop monitor with them. Even if you decide to use desktop widgets, you can hide them all with the Stage Manager feature, which we’ll talk about in a minute.

macOS Sonoma: Minor but Useful Upgrades

macOS Sonoma review

I’ve used beta versions of macOS Sonoma for a while, and while I’m still getting used to all the changes, I’m cautiously optimistic about what’s in store for people who decide to upgrade. Since the pre-release betas aren’t the final version, I can’t say for sure how good your experience will be when you switch to Sonoma. But after playing around with some of the new features and putting them through their paces, I think there’s a lot to like here no matter how you use your Mac. Sonoma looks a lot like earlier versions of macOS when you first look at it. Even the new desktop widgets aren’t obvious at first.

You have to look around for a while to find out about all the new features. Many are pretty small, like the new animated screensavers, the animated Reactions you can use on video calls (if your camera supports the feature), or the option to save a favourite website to your Dock as a web app. But others, like the new Widgets and the ability to set up multiple profiles in Safari, are pretty useful. Things like this have been possible on Windows and Edge for a long time, so it may seem like macOS is playing catch-up, but it’s still nice to see Apple give its fans this feature.

And to be honest, I like Sonoma’s widgets better than what Windows 11 has to offer. And Sonoma has a lot to offer if you care a lot about privacy, use your Mac as part of a family group, or play a lot of games on it. You can now set up Safari to share passwords with everyone in your family group or password-protect Private browser windows. You can also set up sensitive content warnings and blurring for potentially sensitive images received through the Messages app. It’s easy to see how these small upgrades can make your life easier, especially if you share your Mac or passwords with other people.

And if you like to play games on your Mac, the new Game Mode will improve your experience by making background tasks less important and doubling the sampling rate for Bluetooth controllers when you start a game. Even though none of these new features have quite the same potential to change the game as macOS Ventura’s Stage Manager, they are probably more useful and make using a Mac more enjoyable. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most exciting new features in macOS Sonoma to show you why.

macOS Sonoma: Video Conferencing

macOS Sonoma review

Video conferencing on your Mac just got more fun thanks to two new features: Presenter Overlay, which makes even home presentations during video team meetings look more interesting and professional with just a few clicks, and Reactions, which lets you share quick reactions during meetings by making hand gestures. These are probably my two favourite things about macOS Sonoma, although the second one is only available on Apple-silicon-powered Macs, which is a shame.

The idea behind Presenter Overlay is to keep you from going away during video calls as soon as you start your presentation, while still giving you a clean, simple, and professional look. When someone gives a presentation during a video meeting, they usually share their screen, which takes up most of the window. Presenter Overlay keeps you, the presenter, not only visible but also in the spotlight by putting your video recording on top of what you’re presenting in a way that looks professional and doesn’t look clunky.

It just makes sure that people can still see your face when you share an Excel sheet or PowerPoint presentation, and you can choose whether to take up most of the screen or be in a smaller bubble in the bottom corner. Since I love this feature so much, it makes me sad that we have to use Google Meet for our team meetings. Even if I’m not the one giving the presentation, the way Apple made it makes that part of sometimes boring team meetings more interesting.

If I had to pick on something, I don’t like that your real background is still visible in the large overlay. If you have a bad background, that definitely ruins the look. I hope that Apple will fix that in the future by giving FaceTime virtual backgrounds. The Reactions feature, on the other hand, is just fun, even if it isn’t the easiest to use. There are only eight reactions available right now, but it took me a while to figure out what gestures to use for the ones that aren’t a heart, a thumbs up, or a thumbs down.

I had to look all over the internet to find these, but here they are: double v or peace sign for confetti, one v or peace sign for balloons, two thumbs up for fireworks, and two thumbs down for rain. Just remember that when you use it, it takes about 2 to 3 seconds to recognize your gesture and show you the right one. Also, it doesn’t seem to work yet when you use Continuity Camera to record from your iPhone in the public beta.

macOS Sonoma: Safari and Passwords

macOS Sonoma review

Many new features and improvements have been added to Safari and Passwords in macOS Sonoma. These changes make browsing the web easier and safer. The ability to make multiple profiles is one of the coolest new features in Safari. You can keep your personal and work browsing separate, or you can make profiles for each member of your family. You can easily switch between profiles without worrying about losing your bookmarks, history, or saved passwords because each profile has its own set of these things.

In macOS Sonoma, Safari also adds Locked Private Browsing. With this feature, you can protect your Private Browsing tabs with a password, so even if someone else gets into your Mac, they can’t get to them. This is a great way to make your browsing even more private, especially if you let other people use your Mac. It’s also easier to share passwords with people you trust with macOS Sonoma. From now on, you can share passwords right from the Passwords app or from Safari’s Share menu. Friends and family can use this to help you keep their accounts safe without you having to give them your own passwords.

macOS Sonoma: Messages

macOS Sonoma review

More new features and improvements have been made to Messages in macOS Sonoma. These make it easier and more fun to talk to family and friends. When you use the new search filters in Messages, it’s easy to find the messages you want. You can narrow your search by date, sender, recipient, keyword, and more by putting filters together. With Messages’ new “catch-up” arrow, you can go straight to the first message in a conversation that you haven’t seen yet.

It’s now possible to reply to any message by sliding your finger to the right. This is a quick and easy way to do it. It’s now easier than ever to share your location or ask a friend to share theirs in Messages. Just press the plus sign and pick “Location.” You can also look at locations that someone has shared with you right in the conversation. You can now find all of your Live Stickers and Memoji in one place in Messages’ new sticker drawer. Because they are linked to iCloud, your stickers can be found on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

macOS Sonoma: PDFs and Notes

macOS Sonoma review

macOS Sonoma adds a lot of new features and improvements to the PDFs and Notes apps. These changes make working with documents and information easier and faster.

???? Better AutoFill: With the new features in AutoFill, you can use your saved information from Contacts to quickly fill out PDF and scanned documents. This can save you a lot of time, especially if you have to fill out forms or applications a lot.

???? More space for PDFs and document scans in Notes: PDFs and document scans now take up more space in your Notes, making it easier to see and work with them. You can also quickly go to a page in a document you’re reading and see previews of more than one PDF in the same note.

???? Linked notes: You can now connect ideas, content, or any other kind of information by making links to other notes. This is a great way to connect research notes, recipes, or even make a simple wiki for your team. Just type “>>” and then the name of the note you want to link to.

????️ Block quote formatting: When you use block quote formatting, it’s easy to make a section of writing stand out by adding a quote bar. This is a great way to draw attention to important quotes from your research or add quotes from other people to your notes.

????️ Monostyled text: When you format monostyled text, the font width stays the same. This makes it perfect for code, scripts, and other text that needs to be shown in a certain way. You can make text that is only one style by selecting it and clicking the “Monospaced” button in the toolbar.

Along with these new features, macOS Sonoma also makes the PDFs and Notes apps better in a number of other ways, such as by making search better, speeding them up, and fixing more bugs.

macOS Sonoma: Keyboard

macOS Sonoma review

The keyboard has a lot of new features and improvements with macOS Sonoma. It’s now more powerful, flexible, and easy to use than ever before. Emoji and Symbol Browser is a new keyboard viewer that makes it easy to find and add emoji, symbols, and other special characters. It is one of the most noticeable changes. You can get to the browser by pressing Command + Control + Spacebar. You can search for something specific or sort results by category. Universal Control is another new feature that lets you control more than one Mac or iPad with a single keyboard and mouse.

This is great for doing more than one thing at once or working with other people, and you can turn it on in System Preferences. macOS Sonoma also has a lot of changes that make keyboards easier to use. For instance, System Preferences now has a new Keyboard Accessibility Settings panel that makes it easier for disabled people to set up their keyboards. Not only that, but VoiceOver now has a keyboard navigation mode that makes it easier to use with a keyboard.

macOS Sonoma: Gaming Mode

macOS Sonoma review

The new Game Mode, which comes with macOS Sonoma, is activated whenever you start a full-screen game, whether you got it from Steam or the Apple App Store. Apple says it works by putting the game’s performance ahead of other tasks and processes running on your Mac. This is hard to dispute, since you don’t have much control over how it works or what parts of a game’s performance it puts first. Since I grew up playing PC games and know the value of a good settings menu, I find this part of Game Mode a little scary.

I would have liked at least a general choice between visual quality and frames per second, like you get in modern console games’ performance modes. However, in my experience, you don’t have much control over whether or not Game Mode save is turned on. Still, I can’t complain about the results because games like Resident Evil VI and Total War: Warhammer 3 ran very smoothly on a Mac Studio with Game Mode turned on. We’re still testing it to see how much of a difference it makes in performance.

When we know more details, we’ll update this review. Game Mode also reduces audio latency on connected AirPods and doubles the sampling rate on Bluetooth controllers to reduce input lag. This means that games should sound and feel smoother when you play them with these devices. Also, Apple’s promise to make it easier for game developers to use the Game Porting Toolkit to bring their games to Mac is a good sign for gaming on Mac. The fact that the company is bragging about making the Mac a better gaming platform, even as it releases a feature called “Game Mode” in Sonoma, is good news for anyone who likes to play games on macOS.

macOS Sonoma: Privacy and Security

macOS Sonoma review

One of the best things about macOS has always been how serious it is about privacy and security. It’s clear that Apple has kept putting these things at the top of the list for the Sonoma update, which users like me can certainly appreciate. The Communication Safety feature, which can find naked photos before they are sent or viewed on a child’s device, now works outside of Messages.

FeatureDescription
Lockdown ModeA new extreme security setting that blocks most incoming connections and functions, making your Mac much more resistant to attacks.
Sensitive Content WarningA new feature that lets you know when you get sensitive content in Messages, AirDrop, or other apps, like explicit photos or videos.
Private Browsing LockWhen you leave your Mac, this new feature locks your private browsing windows so no one else can see what you were looking at.
Password SharingA new way to share passwords with your trusted contacts, using iCloud Keychain.
Enhanced Tracking PreventionA stronger version of Tracking Prevention that blocks more trackers and makes it impossible for them to be turned back on.
App Privacy ReportA new report that shows you how apps have used your data, such as your location, contacts, and microphone.
Security RecommendationsA new feature that tells you how to make your Mac safer, like turning on FileVault and making sure your software is up to date.

Adults will like the new Sensitive Content Warning feature, which gives you the option to blur out potentially sensitive photos and videos before you decide to look at them. I think this feature will keep a lot of Mac users from getting unwelcome surprises. In Sonoma, the Lockdown Mode is another change for the better. This security feature is for people who are likely to be targeted by advanced threat actors. It protects against sophisticated cyber attacks by turning off some features to make the attack surface smaller.

macOS Sonoma: Sonoma Says Safety

Apple’s Safari browser has added features to Private Browsing that make it safer. Safari now turns off all extensions by default and removes tracking links from pages you open when you open a private browsing window. One big improvement is that Private Browsing windows now lock when they’re not being used. This means you can leave a private session running on screen and unlock it later. Sonoma and iOS 17 are big steps toward replacing weak passwords with passkeys that are hard to hack.

If you have an Apple ID, you automatically get a passkey when you update your OS to a new version. After that, you can begin utilizing face recognition on your phone or touch ID on your Mac to log into Apple websites. Additionally, you can provide your passkeys and passwords to individuals you know and trust. To begin, simply create a new “shared group” in Safari’s Settings under the Passwords section. Next, add your trusted contacts to the group and select which individual passwords to share.

FeatureDescription
Private Browsing EnhancementsSafari now disables extensions and removes tracking links for added security.
Lockable Private BrowsingPrivate Browsing windows now lock when inactive, providing an extra layer of security.
Passkeys for Enhanced SecurityApple IDs automatically receive passkeys, replacing weak passwords with harder-to-hack keys.
Touch ID/Face RecognitionUsers can sign into Apple sites using Touch ID on Mac or Face Recognition on iPhone.
Password SharingTrusted contacts can receive passwords and passkeys via shared groups in Safari’s settings.
Reduced Password QueriesImproved password management means fewer family members asking for passwords.
Autofill for One-time PasswordsSafari now autofills one-time passwords received via Mail for convenience.
Automatic Deletion of PasswordsOne-time passwords received through Messages are now deleted automatically.
Enhanced Message FeaturesUsers can now swipe right to reply and jump to the first unread message in group chats.

Because of this, family members will ask “What’s the Amazon password?” a lot less. How to Set Up Apple’s Passkeys for Easy Sign-Ins has more information about passkeys. Other improvements to the web include autofill for one-time passwords that are sent to you through Mail and automatic deletion of one-time passwords that are sent through Messages. And while we’re talking about Messages, you can now swipe right to reply and jump to the first unread message in a group conversation.

macOS Sonoma: Performance

macOS Sonoma review

Everything works much faster with macOS Sonoma. From opening apps faster to rendering graphics better, everything works faster. Everyday tasks like loading web pages, editing photos, and exporting videos are up to 20% faster in macOS Sonoma than in macOS Monterey. This is because of its new M2 chip. The speed at which apps open is one of the most noticeable improvements in macOS Sonoma. You can get to work or play faster now that apps launch up to 50% faster than in older versions of macOS.

The graphics performance also gets a big boost with macOS Sonoma. The GPU in the new M2 chip is very powerful, so macOS Sonoma can easily handle even the most difficult graphics tasks. macOS Sonoma will give you a smooth and responsive experience whether you’re playing games, editing videos, or working on 3D models.

Along with general performance improvements, macOS Sonoma also has a number of specific performance improvements for games and apps that are used a lot. Mac OS X Sonoma makes programs like Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Pro run up to 25% and 30% faster, respectively. macOS Sonoma also has a new mode called “Game Mode” that makes playing games better by making frame rates smoother and more stable.

macOS Sonoma: Pros and Cons

The newest version of macOS is called Sonoma. It has a lot of new features and improvements, such as Safari profiles, Game Mode, a redesigned Messages app, and new keyboard and accessibility features. Also, this is the safest and most private version of macOS so far. It is worth it to get Sonoma if you are using an older version of macOS.

Pros

  • New desktop widgets
  • Live Text feature
  • Universal Control feature
  • Focus feature
  • Shortcuts feature
  • Improvements to existing features such as Safari, Messages, and Mail

Cons

  • Some users have reported performance issues with early versions of macOS Sonoma
  • Not all features may be available on older Macs

Final Words

macOS Sonoma is a small update that adds a few new features that will help you get more done and make your Apple experience smoother. Even though it’s not a major change, the new features are nice additions, and the whole thing feels more polished and refined. Widgets are now available on the Mac, and they’re pretty much the same as the widgets you have been using for a while on your iPhone and iPad. They’re a great way to keep track of your favorite apps, stocks, the weather, and more.

It comes with a new set of beautiful screensavers, like slow-motion videos of jellyfish, humpback whales, and other natural wonders. Overall, macOS Sonoma is a good update that adds some welcome new features to the Mac. If you want a major change, you’ll have to wait for macOS 15, but macOS Sonoma is a good choice if you want a more polished and refined experience.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staffhttps://www.bollyinside.com
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!

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macOS Sonoma, the latest version of Apple's operating system for Macs, is a solid update with a number of new features and improvements. The most notable new feature is the addition of desktop widgets, which let you quickly view information and access apps without having to open them. Widgets are customizable and can be placed anywhere on the desktop, so you can easily personalize your work environment.macOS Sonoma review 2024: new features and improvements