April 30, 2023
macOS (previously Mac OS X and later OS X) is a series of proprietary graphical operating systems developed and marketed by Apple Inc. since 2001. It is the primary operating system for Apple’s Mac computers. Within the market of desktop, laptop, and home computers, and by web usage, it is the second most widely used desktop OS, after Microsoft Windows.
The macOS operating system is designed to work seamlessly with Apple’s hardware, delivering a highly optimized and efficient user experience. It is based on the Unix-based NeXTSTEP operating system, which was developed by NeXT after Apple’s acquisition of the company in 1996. The operating system underwent several major updates over the years, with the latest version being macOS 13 Ventura, released in 2022.
The history of macOS can be divided into two main eras: the classic Mac OS era (1984-2001) and the macOS era (2001-present).
Classic Mac OS Era
The classic Mac OS era began in 1984 with the release of the original Macintosh System Software. This first version of the operating system was a single-tasking system that relied heavily on graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Over the years, Apple introduced several updates to the classic Mac OS, culminating in the release of Mac OS 9 in 1999. However, the classic Mac OS was facing increasing competition from Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and Apple began looking for ways to modernize its operating system.
The macOS era began in 2001 with the release of Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah. This new operating system was a complete departure from the classic Mac OS, as it was built on a Unix-based foundation, providing increased stability, security, and performance. Mac OS X also introduced a new GUI called Aqua, which featured a more modern and visually appealing design. Over the years, Apple has continued to update and refine macOS, with each new version named after a big cat, a California landmark, or a natural monument.
macOS is known for its user-friendly interface, robust performance, and seamless integration with other Apple products and services. Some notable features of macOS include:
- Finder: The Finder is the file manager and graphical user interface shell used on macOS. It is responsible for the overall organization and navigation of files, folders, and applications on the user’s computer.
- Dock: The Dock is a user interface element that provides a convenient way to access frequently used applications, documents, and folders. Users can customize the Dock by adding or removing items, and it can be positioned on any edge of the screen.
- iCloud: iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage and cloud computing service that allows users to store and sync data across multiple devices, such as Macs, iPhones, and iPads. iCloud also enables users to access their data from any device with an internet connection.
- App Store: The Mac App Store is a digital distribution platform for macOS applications. It offers an easy way for users to discover, download, and install software from both Apple and third-party developers.
- Time Machine: Time Machine is a built-in backup utility in macOS that automatically backs up the user’s data to an external hard drive or a network-attached storage device. It allows users to easily restore their entire system or specific files and folders to a previous state.
- Continuity: Continuity is a collection of features that enable seamless integration between macOS and iOS devices. These features include Handoff, which allows users to start a task on one device and finish it on another; Universal Clipboard, which enables users to copy and paste content across devices; and AirDrop, which allows users to easily share files wirelessly between devices.
macOS is designed with various security features to protect users’ data and privacy. Some of the key security features include:
- Gatekeeper: Gatekeeper is a security feature that helps protect users from downloading and installing malicious software. It checks if an app has been digitally signed by Apple or an identified developer before allowing it to run.
- FileVault: FileVault is a full-disk encryption feature that helps protect user data by encrypting the startup disk. This ensures that user data remains secure even if the device is lost or stolen.
- XProtect: XProtect is a built-in anti-malware tool in macOS that scans downloaded files for known malicious content. It updates automatically to protect against the latest threats.
- Sandboxing: macOS uses sandboxing to isolate applications from critical system components, preventing them from accessing unauthorized resources or causing harm to the system.
Reception and Market Share
macOS has generally received positive reviews for its stability, performance, and user-friendly interface. However, some critics have noted that the operating system can be less customizable than competing platforms such as Windows and Linux.
As of April 2023, macOS holds a market share of approximately 31% among desktop operating systems worldwide, making it the second most popular desktop operating system after Microsoft Windows.