At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple introduced macOS 13 Ventura. The successor to macOS 12 Monterey, the new version offers many new and updated features that bring the Mac experience closer to iOS/iPadOS. Currently available only to beta testers, macOS 13 Ventura will run on most Macs released during the past five years. The free update should be open to the public in October.
Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas (opens in new tab). While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.
What's new in macOS 13 Ventura
Apple's macOS 13 Ventura isn't as significant an update as macOS 11 Big Sur, although it is more extensive than macOS 12 Monterey in terms of new and updated features. But, as our early preview showed, there's something for everyone in Ventura.
Also announced for iPadOS 16, Stage Manager provides a new way to organize your open app windows on Mac. It does so by keeping the current window in the center of the screen while putting the other open windows on the left-hand side as tiny icons. You can go back and forth between open windows with ease. You can also group open windows based on specific tasks or projects.
When Stage Manager was first announced, there were a lot of controversies about which iPads would support it (only specific iPad Pro models). Luckily, there's not a similar issue on Mac. If your computer supports macOS 13 Ventura (see bottom), it will work with Stage Manager.
The webcam on Mac is getting an all-new look in macOS 13 Ventura. With the power of Continuity, your iPhone camera can act as your Mac's webcam. Using FaceTime and other camera apps, you can bring innovative new features to all Macs, including Center Stage, Portrait, Studio Light, and more.
In addition, third-party accessory makers such as Belkin are currently designing stands so you can place your iPhone above your Mac. These will arrive this fall alongside the macOS update.
New Mail features
In macOS 13 Ventura, Apple is finally adding features some third-party mail apps have had for a long time. These include the ability to unsend and schedule emails, among other new offers. With the former, you can unsend an email within 10 seconds of first sending it. The feature gives you a little time to bring back an embarrassing or incorrect email. The latter makes it possible to schedule emails, so they go out at a more opportune time.
The Mail app in macOS 13 Ventura also adds the ability to get reminders to follow up or come back to a message later and rich links, which give email messages more content and details at a glance. Mail will also alert you when you forget to include an attachment or a recipient. There's also a smarter search engine in place.
In macOS 13 Ventura, System Preferences has been replaced by System Settings. With the name change comes a redesign that should look very similar; System Settings on Mac includes a sidebar design like the one found on iPad.
Safari and Passkeys
Passwords could be a thing of the past, thanks to Passkeys. Available within Safari, Passkeys introduces a new sign-in method that provides end-to-end encryption to thwart phishing and data leaks. Apple says Passkeys are stronger than two-factor authentication and will work on Mac and even non-Apple devices.
Safari is also picking up shared tab groups. With these tabs, you can share Safari tabs and bookmarks, send messages, and start FaceTime directly from the app.
Apple seems to tweak Spotlight, the built-in search tool for Mac, each year. In macOS 13 Ventura, the Spotlight changes mainly focus on an enhanced image search, although other changes also look promising. The updated Spotlight tool makes it possible to find images in Safari, Photos, Messages, Notes, and the Finder. With Live Text, you can also find pictures by whatever text might be included in an image.
Meanwhile, the new Spotlight design in macOS 13 Ventura provides large, scrollable previews of your files, plus additional information whenever search results include contacts, albums, TV shows, and more.
Like with Mail, you now have the ability to unsend iMessages in the Messages app. You can also edit already sent messages. Both have a 15-minute time limit to do so. Apple's also bringing SharePlay to Messages so you can watch TV shows or listen to music with others directly from that app. Other collaboration tools are also set to arrive on Messages this fall.
We can already share photos with others. However, those photos are ultimately stored in your existing iCloud Photos library. With the all-new iCloud Shared Photo Library feature, content is entirely separate from other photo libraries, and members (up to six) can view, add, and manage content at will. The Photos app will also suggest which photos should be shared with others based on what's already there.
Last year, Apple made significant changes to FaceTime, including SharePlay. In macOS 13 Ventura, there's only one new feature in FaceTime, and yet, it's a pretty big one. Thanks to Handoff, you can now move a FaceTime call from one device to another with a click. So, for example, you could start a call on your Mac but shift it later to your iPhone and vice versa.
Apple's software has long been packed with advanced privacy features. This time around, it's adding even more. With macOS 13 Ventura, Apple will send out essential security improvements between regular software updates. These updates, called "Rapid Security Response," ensure your Mac is always protected against the latest security issues.
The company is also locking Hidden and Recently Deleted photo albums by default. To open these, you'll need to use your Mac authentication method: Touch ID or password.
On the accessibility front, Apple's introducing Live Captions, which turns audio into text in real-time. There's also a Voice Control spelling mode and buddy controller. The latter lets you combine two game controllers so that someone can help you while playing your favorite games.
There are additional macOS 13 Ventura features that haven't gotten much attention. Among these are:
- The official Clock and Weather apps jump from iPhone to Mac. Better still, they're taking advantage of Mac's larger display.
- A new Apple News sports feature makes finding information about your favorite sports teams easier, including their schedules, results, and standings.
- The Home app is getting a minor update across all Apple platforms. The redesigned app makes it easier to organize, navigate, and view your smart home accessories. There's also support for the Matter home connectivity standard for the first time.
- Meanwhile, your Memoji are picking up new stickers and customization options. These include nose shapes, headwear, hairstyles, and more.
- Finally, the Maps app is gaining the ability to plan multiple stops along a route in advance. You can also look up directions on your Mac and see them on your iPhone once it's time to get moving; fares for public transportation are also being added to the Maps app.
As in previous years, some Mac features announced at WWDC won't be released with the rest of macOS 13 Ventura. Instead, their release will be delayed to the end of 2022 or later.
One of the most promising new features set to arrive (eventually) with macOS 13 Ventura is Freeform. Think of Freeform as a digital canvas that is easy to share with others where groups can plan projects, sketch new products, and insert web links, documents, video, and audio. Also launching with iPadOS 16, Freeform is described by Apple as a place to "bring ideas to life."
Apple plans on introducing SharePlay support in Game Center. In doing so, you can start playing automatically with friends on a FaceTime call.
My Mac is old. Can I upgrade to macOS 13 Ventura?
The macOS 13 Ventura update will run on the following devices:
- iMac (2017 and later)
- iMac Pro (2017 and later)
- MacBook (2017 and later)
- MacBook Air (2018 and later)
- MacBook Pro (2017 and later)
- Mac mini (2018 and later)
- Mac Pro (2019 and later)
- Mac Studio (2022)
When does it launch?
The public will get its hands on macOS 13 Ventura this fall. Most likely, this will be sometime in October.
How to download now
Developers can download macOS Ventura for free on any supported Mac from the Apple Support page. You can also become a member of the Apple Beta Software Program and begin testing the update as a non-developer.
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Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
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