The Spectacular Looking Update of macOS Mojave

Mojave macOS 10.14 is a great update with dozens of new features for document and media management, the privacy features on iOS 14 like style apps for stocks, news, and voice memos, and enhanced security and privacy features. Mojave enhances mobile integration, so you can now even embed images into documents on your Mac by simply taking a picture on your iOS 12 phone.

Unlike previous updates, Mojave offers the ability to completely change the look and feel of macOS, including a new dark mode. This mode displays white text on a dark background in Finder and apps, and lets you work on documents without disturbing the bright colors in the apps and operating systems you’re working on. Dark Mode is one of Mojave’s many improvements that helps you focus more on work or play than on your computer.

The QuickLook preview (the thumbnail that appears when you select a file and press the spacebar) also adds the ability to focus on documents and images rather than the application. QuickLook now displays a larger image than before and displays one or more icons that trigger a new feature called Quick Actions.

Overview

Quick Steps let you create or combine PDFs from images, or trim audio and video files without opening the file in a separate application. I was hoping I could use QuickLook to select text from a document and copy it to the clipboard, but Apple still hasn’t added this feature, available in the Explorer preview in Windows 10.

Finder offers a new overlay feature that organizes your desktop by combining icons into a stack of images, screenshots, documents, PDFs, Zip archives, and more. You can scroll through the stack by swiping the trackpad or mouse.

The first incremental update since the initial release of Mojave version 10.14.1 added support for Group FaceTime, but it turned out to be a failure when a teenager discovered a serious security flaw in this feature. This update also includes 70 new funny emojis, and Apple has since released an additional update (update version 10.14.3) that fixes the Group FaceTime bug. Version 10.14.4 adds support for Safari autofill, along with Touch ID support and a dark mode for websites that support it.

macOS vs. iOS

Apple is committed to separating macOS from iOS. Microsoft, on the other hand, uses the same version of Windows 10 for both desktops and tablets, and Google’s Chrome OS allows users to run Android apps on their computers. Despite strict guidelines, Apple continues to add iOS apps and features to macOS and vice versa. For example, Mojave offers four iOS apps on the Mac: Stock, News, Home, and Voice Memos.

Mojave is the first step in Apple’s plan to allow third-party developers to bring their iOS apps to Mac. This feature is expected to be released in 2019. Meanwhile, some long-term macOS developers will have a hard time updating older 32-bit apps before the 2019 version is released, as Mojave is the last macOS version to run 32-bit apps. When you first launch a 32-bit app on Mojave before this 2019 deadline, you will see a warning message (e.g. the message that started to appear when launching a 32-bit app on High Sierra), but after that the app works fine.

Mojave runs on any Mac

Mojave runs on any Mac that supports Apple’s Metal Graphics Acceleration Platform. That means pretty much any Mac desktop or laptop since mid 2012. The only exception is the Mac Pro line. All models from late 2013 are supported, but 2010 and 2012 models require a Metal capable graphics card. Like its predecessor High Sierra, Mojave is effective to new defaults of Apple File System (APFS) and finally Fusion drives on some Mac desktops (hard drives that use flash for a small portion of the drive and a spinning drive for everything else), and also APFS is always only compatible with flash drives and only drives.

APFS improves stability and speed, and I would especially appreciate it when backing up large files, which seems to take a long time on older filesystems, including NTFS on Windows, but only takes a few seconds with APFS, and if to learn more about Apple’s new file system, read our story about what APFS means to you.

If you try Mojave before upgrading your existing High Sierra system and have an APFS-formatted SSD with at least 20GB of free space, you can use macOS Disk Utility to create a separate file that can be automatically resized. Install APFS “volumes” on existing drives and install Mojave without disrupting your High Sierra system.

Forget what you could remember about the inconvenience of partitioning and resizing your hard disk before APFS, as APFS does the job automatically and invisibly.

Get starting with Mojave macOS

Mojave’s initial setup is the same as in the previous version, until you reach a new menu that chooses between the familiar backlit display mode and the new dark mode. If you haven’t selected dark mode here, you can always toggle it later in the General pane in System Preferences.

If you’ve edited a photo in Apple’s Photos app, you’re already familiar with the dark mode because the photo’s editing mode uses a black background with white letters so you can easily see the image in real colors. Mojave’s Dark Mode is built into macOS and uses the same effect across all Apple-supplied apps, including separately downloadable apps like Xcode. Dark Mode also works for other apps that use the standard Apple color scheme.

Mojave Stack Up

Another new desktop feature, Stacks (accessible through the Finder menu), combines all of the random icons on your desktop into several neat stacks on the right edge of the screen to organize everything into categories such as documents and images. There is no need to expand the stack to see its contents. Swiping with two fingers on the trackpad in turn moves each icon in the stack to the top. The submenu allows you to sort the stacks by date rather than by type, so you can have a stack of files marked today or yesterday.

Privacy and Security in Mojave

Under the dazzling surface, Mojave is making significant but subtle advances in privacy and security. Safari, for example, makes it harder than ever for advertisers to track users. Apple says that if you’re logged into a social networking site, you can track users from anywhere on the web without having to click Facebook-style Like and Comment buttons. In Mojave, Safari blocks this tracking. When you click one of these buttons, Safari asks for permission before sending a response.

Mojave also allows many web tracking sites to anonymize the system information requested by the browser (such as screen size and installed fonts) to “fingerprint” the system and deliver targeted advertisements. All this makes the internet a lot less creepy.

Mojave can also act as a password manager. The new OS automatically generates and stores strong passwords when registering for websites using Safari. It doesn’t go over “12345” unless the user sticks. (You shouldn’t do that.) For sites that send a one-time password to text messages when trying to log in, Safari automatically inserts the password with an auto-complete suggestion, confused when non-technical relatives try to enter the remote site’s SMS number instead, and it will be reduce an errors password.

Upgrade into Mojave macOS

All initial (0 points) macOS releases have some flaws that will be categorized in future updates. At the beginning of the beta period, I used my Apple Developer account to report bugs in two very little known macOS features. (If you need to know, two features are command line conversion from PostScript to PDF and file access through a background program called the startup daemon).

This was a low priority issue, but Apple fixed it quickly and completely. This is much better than my experience with reporting bugs to other major software vendors.

When I tested the final version of Mojave on my 2020 MacBook Pro, I had only one small error that disappeared by itself when I restarted the computer. We tested the continuity camera feature, which allows you to take photos with your camera and insert them into applications such as Pages. When I clicked Take Photo from the Pages pop-up menu, a dialog popped up stating that two-factor authentication had to be turned on for this Mac, and asked to go to iCloud preferences to turn it on.

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