macOS Sonoma features: What’s new and how to get it

Sep 27, 2023, 12:44 PM EDT
7 mins read
macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
Image: Apple

Apple‘s new macOS Sonoma is finally here! If you’re wondering what this update brings to the table, whether your Mac is compatible, and how to get it, we’ve got you covered.

Related / Here is everything Apple announced at WWDC 2023

Mac Compatibility

If you’re eager to upgrade to macOS Sonoma, you’ll want to make sure your Mac is up to the task. The update is free, but not all older devices can run it. Here’s a quick list of Mac models that are Sonoma-ready:

If your Mac is on this list, you’re good to go.


How to Install macOS Sonoma

Before you dive into the upgrade, it’s essential to back up your Mac. You can do this using Time Machine or iCloud. Detailed instructions for both methods can be found in Apple’s support article.

To download macOS Sonoma, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple menu in the upper-left corner.
  2. Navigate to System Settings > General > Software Update.
  3. Click “Update Now” or “Upgrade Now.”

Your Mac will take it from there, downloading and installing the new macOS.


Widgets on Desktop

macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
Place widgets on your desktop from the new widget gallery. And you can now play a podcast, turn off the lights, and more — right from a widget. (Image: Apple)

One of the standout features of Sonoma is the introduction of interactive widgets on your desktop. These widgets, originally from the Notification Center in macOS Big Sur, can now be placed directly on your desktop. They seamlessly blend into your wallpaper when you have an app open, reducing distractions. You can interact with these widgets to control media, smart home devices, take notes, and manage your calendar appointments. If you own an iPhone, you can also bring your iOS widgets to your Mac if both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.


Screen sharing

macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
The new Presenter Overlay keeps you part of the conversation when sharing your screen. (Image: Apple)

Screen sharing during work meetings just got more user-friendly in Sonoma. A new video menu shows when you’re sharing your screen, making it clear to everyone in the meeting. There’s also a screen-sharing button that allows you to start sharing from any app. You can choose to share your entire screen, specific windows, or multiple apps simultaneously. Macs with M-series chips get a bonus feature, providing responsive remote access to your MacBook even when you’re away from it.


Video conferencing tools

Sonoma introduces a variety of video conferencing tools designed to make your virtual meetings more engaging. These features are available on Macs powered by Apple’s own processors. Presenter Overlay lets you display your screen next to your video feed. Reactions, similar to those in the Messages app, allow you to express yourself during video calls. You also have more control over your Mac’s camera, including adjustments to Studio Light filters and background blur in Portrait Mode.

Privacy in Safari

macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
You can now create a separated profiles in Safari like Work and Personal. It can also separate your history, extensions, Tab Groups, cookies, and favorites. (Image: Apple)

Apple has beefed up its private browsing feature in Safari. You can now lock your private browsing windows to prevent unauthorized access when you step away. Additionally, Sonoma introduces profile separation in Safari, enabling you to create separate profiles for work and personal use. You can even turn your favorite websites into web apps for a more app-like experience, complete with notifications.


Messages just got better

Sonoma brings some iOS 17 upgrades to the Messages app. You can now swipe right to quickly reply to specific messages, making communication more seamless. Improved search categorizes results for easier retrieval, and there’s a new passcode cleanup feature. Stickers created on iOS or iPadOS are now accessible on your Mac.

Game Mode

macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
Game Mode automatically gives games top priority on the CPU and GPU of your Mac, lowering usage for background tasks. (Image: Apple)

Gamers with M-series Macs will appreciate Game Mode, which optimizes CPU and GPU performance for smoother gaming experiences. It also reduces audio latency when using AirPods and improves input latency with supported PlayStation and Xbox controllers.


Communication Safety

macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
Communication Safety now includes protections for sensitive videos and photos. (Image: Apple)

Sonoma introduces sensitive content warnings in Messages, AirDrop, FaceTime, and third-party apps, giving you control over viewing explicit content. Parents can also blur sensitive videos sent or received by their children. These features extend to the Photos app within Messages.

New Screen Savers

Enjoy stunning new screen savers featuring slow-motion videos of global locations. The login prompt has been moved to the bottom of the screen to avoid obstructing your display.


Improved Autocorrect

macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
Image: Apple

Sonoma improves Autocorrect with enhanced on-device language models, offering more accurate corrections. Autocorrected words are temporarily underlined, and there’s inline predictive text to speed up typing.

Accessibility Features

Sonoma includes numerous accessibility features, such as phonetic suggestions, animated images, Live Speech, text size customization, and support for Made for iPhone hearing devices.


Upgrades to the Notes App

The Notes app gets a boost with the ability to link notes and new text styles. You can also access more layouts and formatting tools by opening notes in the Pages app.

macOS Sonoma features: What's new and how to get it
Start in Notes and finish in Pages (Image: Apple)

Additional Features

  • Reminders automatically sorts items based on categories and remembers your preferences.
  • Find My allows you to add up to five people to your network.
  • Siri responds to just “Siri” on Macs with M-series chips.
  • The Photos app can now recognize cats and dogs.
  • Visual Lookup provides more information on subjects in photos.
  • The Home app introduces an Activity History feature.

Coming Soon

  • Enhanced AutoFill for PDFs in Preview.
  • Invite friends to join Apple Music playlists.
  • A “catch-up” arrow for quick navigation in messages.

With macOS Sonoma, Apple continues to enhance the Mac experience with a slew of new features and improvements. Make sure your Mac is compatible, back up your data, and get ready to enjoy the latest and greatest from Apple’s operating system.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments