Which Macs will run Apple's macOS Big Sur?

Apple this week unveiled its next desktop OS, a revamped version of macOS that has a new look.

mac os big sur

Even as Apple abandoned the "X" for this year's macOS upgrade, it retained the odd-even cycle for the refresh's system requirements, knocking older systems in its MacBook, Air and iMac lines from the list able to run the operating system.

On Monday, the Cupertino, Calif. company unveiled mac OS 11, aka "Big Sur," at a virtual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple dispensed with the numeral 10, expressed with the "X" it had used for its desktop operating system since 2001, moving up a whole number rather than the traditional tenth (which would have made Big Sur macOS 10.16). The free upgrade will ship this fall, almost certainly in September or October.

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macOS 11 will introduce a new look and design, one that Apple argued was the biggest change since the debut of OS X. It will also be the first desktop OS to run on the ARM-based systems Apple will begin rolling out later this year and in 2021.

This year's even

Apple has used an odd-even cadence for its operating system upgrades' requirements, alternately retaining the prior year's models on the newest version's support list in odd-numbered years with odd-numbered editions, as in 2019's Catalina, macOS 10.15, and dropping models from the list during even-numbered years with even-numbered editions.

Big Sur would have been 10.16 if Apple had hewed to tradition, but it's still an even-numbered upgrade because of its year. So it wasn't a surprise when the system requirements were narrowed for the new OS.

According to Apple, these Macs will run Big Sur:

  • MacBook 2015 and later
  • MacBook Air 2013 and later
  • MacBook Pro 2013 and later
  • iMac 2014 and later
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later
  • Mac Mini 2014 and later
  • Mac Pro 2013 and later

Macs that didn't make Big Sur's list but were on Catalina's included the mid- and late-year 2012 MacBook Pro, mid-2012 MacBook Air, mid-2012 and late-2013 iMac, and late-2012 Mac Mini machines. The now-abandoned systems will be supported with security-only updates to the last-chance Catalina through the summer of 2022, however.

Although paying developers now have access to Big Sur preview code, the public beta won't debut until July, Apple said. As in years past, that beta will be made available to those who register here.

macOS Big Sur will be available from the Mac App Store when it releases.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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