macOS Big Sur is the latest version of Apple’s desktop operating system. It will likely be available as a free upgrade for Mac owners in October 2020. With this release, some Macs running Catalina will remain and will not be able to upgrade.
Which Mac models are compatible with Big Sur?
Apple removes support for some older Mac models with the launch of macOS 11.0 Big Sur. If your computer is no longer compatible with the latest update, you must continue to use macOS Catalina until you upgrade to a newer model.
The list of Mac models compatible with MacOS Big Sur is:
- MacBook Air (2013 and later)
- MacBook Pro (late 2013 and later)
- MacBook (2015 and later)
- iMac (2014 and later)
- iMac Pro (2017 and later)
- Mac mini (2014 and later)
- Mac Pro (2013 and later)
If your Mac is not listed, you will stop getting major software updates. This includes updates to core apps like Safari and Mail. If you use an iOS device running iOS 14 or later, you will not be able to transfer files or perform local backups using the Finder.
Apple normally provides important security fixes for the previous two supported versions of macOS. This means that even if your Mac does not meet the hardware requirements, you should have an additional two years of security updates that you can install through the “Software Update” option in “System Preferences”.
You may also see some application compatibility issues with third-party apps due to changes that Apple has made in Big Sur. Make sure you read the required minimum system specifications before purchasing new software on a Mac that is no longer supported by Apple.
RELATED: News in macOS 11.0 Big Sur, arriving in autumn 2020
How to find which Mac you have
If you’re not sure which Mac you have, you can check out the Apple menu at the top of the screen. Click the “Apple” menu at the top of the screen, then select “About This Mac.” You will see your Mac model name listed in the window that appears under the currently installed version of macOS.
Some Mac models are not only separated by year but the period during the year they were manufactured. For example, if you have a MacBook Pro listed as a “late 2013” model, your computer is compatible with Big Sur. MacBook Pro models from “early” or “mid-2013” are not.
Not having the latest updates and features can be frustrating, but your Mac should still be useful for a few years (at least until the security updates dry up). There are many things you can try to bring an old Mac back to life, including installing Linux or using it as a file server or media streamer.
Why Apple removes support for older machines
macOS Big Sur removes support for machines like the 2012 MacBook Pro, which is now over eight years old. Although this is unfortunate for owners of old machines, the reasoning is probably due to the limited capacity of such hardware.
Big Sur introduces some pretty big changes for Mac. It is the latest major 10.x release, which means that Big Sur is the first iteration of macOS 11.0. The changes seem to go deeper than a new naming convention, with Big Sur introducing an updated interface that borrows heavily from Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS and iPadOS.
The new interface uses strong transparency and floating windows, and almost all core apps included in the release will have a UI overhaul to some extent. It is likely that older machines simply do not have the graphic horsepower to keep up.
One last thing before you upgrade
If your Mac is no longer supported by Apple, you’re probably thinking of an upgrade. Before you buy something, decide if it is the best time to buy a new Mac. You may find that your money will go further if you wait a few months for the company to introduce new models as a result of Apple’s upgrade cycle.
This is especially relevant right now as Apple prepares to transfer Intel-powered Macs to custom ARM processors.
RELATED: Intel Macs vs. Apple Silicon ARM Mac: Which ones should you buy?