Hands-On with macOS Mojave Developer Preview

Posted on June 5, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Mac and macOS with 48 Comments

Hands-On with macOS Mojave Developer Preview

Apple announced the first public beta of macOS Mojave yesterday, so I installed it on my MacBook Air to take a peek.

I also installed the iOS 12 beta on my iPad mini and iPad Pro. But in sharp contrast to previous years, I’m actually far more interested in what Apple is doing with macOS this time around.

There are a few reasons for this.

Most obviously, I’m curious to compare how Apple is updating its own legacy flagship platform so I can compare that to what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10. But this release seems to align even more closely to Microsoft’s efforts, as macOS Mojave features a revamped App Store and a dark user interface mode, just like Windows 10. Plus some features that seem to be lifted straight out of Windows’ past, like the Finder Gallery View (from Windows XP) and Stacks (from Windows Vista).

And I have to say, I like what I see here.

It’s immediately obvious that Apple’s new Dark Mode looks better than the Dark app mode that is available in Windows 10. It’s elegant, and instead of sharp blacks, as in Windows, it simply features dark, more pleasant hues.

Though only in an early beta now, the Mac’s new Dark Mode is already more consistently applied across the system, compared to Windows.

In Windows 10 today, for example, File Explorer and other desktop applications don’t go dark. And some apps, like Microsoft Edge, need to be configured to be dark independently, which is monotonous for those who like to switch back and forth. (Edge even calls this a “theme” whereas that word means something else to Windows. This is classic Microsoft, folks.)

The Mac’s Dark Mode is also far more sophisticated than Windows 10’s Dark app mode. For example, you can configure an option called Dynamic Desktop that changes the color cast of the background image and user interface to match the time of day. It gets darker as it gets darker in the real world, and lighter when it gets light. Windows 10? It’s just black or white.

(Windows 10, like the Mac, supports a Night Light feature that tones down the blue light from the display to help your eyes at night. This is called Night Shift on the Mac.)

The new Mac App Store is pleasant-looking enough, I guess, and it somewhat resembles the iOS App Store, but with a navigation pane instead of a bottom-mounted toolbar. I’ve had tons of connection errors so far, but it’s just an early beta. And Apple still isn’t overcoming the App Store’s biggest issue, which is a dearth of high-quality apps. The same issue Microsoft faces in Windows 10.

I haven’t really played with Stacks yet: My important documents and data files are stored in OneDrive and I don’t want to mess with that. But this feature looks useful, and it allows you to automatically group images, documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, and other file types in virtual folder-like stacks automatically or by design. It’s like a blast from the Windows Vista past.

macOS Mojave has picked up an iOS-like screenshot feature in which a thumbnail of each shot appears before it is saved to the desktop. If you click this thumbnail, it opens in a new Finder-based image editing mode which looks pretty feature-rich.

And speaking of the Finder, that new Gallery View is pleasant enough. But then I enjoyed using it in 2001 in Windows XP.

Apple may have slowed the pace of Mac hardware releases, but this macOS update suggests that they’re on the right path from a software perspective. And there is a lot more going on in macOS Mojave, of course. But these productivity-focused features are very much in-line with what I like to see in a desktop update. And are the same types of updates that Microsoft is adding, at least so far, to Windows 10 Redstone 5, which should ship around the same time as Mojave.


Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (49)

49 responses to “Hands-On with macOS Mojave Developer Preview”

  1. Brandon Mills

    Now if we could just get Facebook to make a dark mode, my eyes might finally rest easy.

  2. Jason Peter


    Any killer stability issues you’ve noticed? I’m assuming its pretty rough at this point. But since they are releasing it publicly this early in the cycle, perhaps the typical alpha-level bugs are not as noticeable this time around?

    In other words, is it halfway usable at this point? Or skip this round?

    I know last year the first public betas were horrible...

  3. lwetzel

    Won't run on a MacBook mid 2009. So once again aims to push you to buy another device.

  4. nbplopes

    Nice article. Its called a well crafted execution rather than a half baked ideas pushed to customers. It just works.

    Has anyone tested the Continuity with the iPhone camera?


  5. GT Tecolotecreek

    FYI Stacks have been around in OS X for a long time for folders stored on the task bar.

    The release of new file system support for Fusion and spinning hard disk is an important addition.

    What the attraction to dark mode? Readability or ? I don't get it.

  6. jwpear

    Wow, that dark mode looks nice! Makes Windows 10 dark mode look amateurish. It's surprising that Microsoft's designers didn't speak up about the harshness of the pure black.

    Can't believe I'd say this after 20+ years of developing apps on/for Windows, but macOS is growing on me.


    I have been playing with Mojave all morning and I have noticed that the Dark Mode looks much better on the built-in Retina display than on the external non-retina Dell monitor. The same might be true for the non-retina MacBook Air. Dark Mode has an abundance of contrast that really makes the pixelation obvious to the human eye.

  8. Atoqir

    It has always been like that. Microsoft their UI is hideous looking and very inconsistent. I hoped fluent would improve this but now there are even more styles. WIn95, Win7, Metro, Win10 legacy, Win10 with fluent. And all the apps like Mail, Groove, Explorer seem to implement their own theme engine instead of handing over all UI stuff to the OS

    If their is one thing I envy Apple users for it is for their UI design, animations, consistency and finishing touch on everything UI related.

  9. rameshthanikodi

    Mac's UI hasn't changed much in forever. Apple just evolves it in little steps like these, which I assume is how they maintain their level of polish. But even in this, we can see that the UI itself doesn't change, they just added dark mode.

    I like this implementation of dark mode better, I believe Twitter was the first to use dark blue hues for their dark mode. I've always liked it. Microsoft has always plunged their UI into blackness which looks *too* dark on screens with deep blacks. Same with YouTube.

    The App Store design is atrocious. Is no one going to mention this? Is Paul not going to kick and scream about how the oversized buttons on the toolbar is clearly designed for touch and is 'kiddie' or something? Oh wait, this is Microsoft's competitor, so there's no need to nitpick :)

    "Dynamic Desktop that changes the color cast of the background image and user interface to match the time of day"

    No it doesn't. Dynamic desktop only changes the background image, not the user interface. The user interface is always either dark or light.

    For god's sake man, what the hell is happening to this site?

  10. longhorn

    Apple, gimme some desktop hardware (not All-in-ones).

    I think lack of suitable hardware is where macOS fails for most people. Not even the Macbooks are competitive from a hardware perspective any more. It's like Apple is willingly wasting a good OS on mediocre hardware. I remember when Apple had Mac Pro (not the trash can) and Mac Mini (that wasn't 4 years old). Those products would still sell if they were kept up to date hardware-wise.

    Has Apple completely abandoned creatives and office environments? Macbook hipsters are the only ones worth serving?

    • GT Tecolotecreek

      In reply to longhorn:

      Think part of the hardware issue is they don't want to do product releases for what works out to be a minor processor/performance update. With Intel continuing to slip on it's release schedule they have choose to hold their cards until the new processors are available. (Like the PowerPC fiasco again.) I think when the new hardware releases start it will be across all the consumer product lines, MB, MBP, iMac and Mini. MacPro will be later. And they will have a significant jump in performance and features. (FaceID?) Problem is what do you do now if you are looking for a hardware upgrade as I write this on my early 2008 MacPro.

  11. krayziehustler

    I am amazed by how easily impressedtech pundits are when it comes to Apple. Can you imagine the headlines if the biggest addition to a new OS from MS was a dark mode?

  12. Illusive_Man

    The interface is always so clean and crisp on MacOS.

  13. RM

    Looks like macOS is becoming more Windows like all the time. Apple doesn't appear to be innovating that OS anymore, just following.

  14. arknu

    And dark mode shows the clear benefit of having a single consistently used UI framework across the system. Pretty much all MacOS applications use Cocoa and the built-in UI libraries, so they will more or less just work with dark mode with just minor tweaks. Some apps do of course roll their own UI, like Firefox.

    But compare this to Windows 10 where even system UI is all over the place. Everything built in to Windows should be UWP by now. And so should Office. Instead, they are off doing a custom dark theme for the existing old and crusty File Explorer. And every other Win32 app? They just stay white.

    Microsoft needs to finally say that Win32 is dead and start migrating developers to UWP. And they need to start doing so with their own apps. As long as Office is Win32, no-one is going to start migrating. And UWP needs to improve to the point that Visual Studio can be ported over.

    • Joseph R. Jones

      In reply to arknu:


      unlike Microsoft (who never manages to apply the previous UI theme across the OS before the next one starts to roll out, meaning there are always at least three rolling around in there somewhere) Apple will actually finish this one, in a single release, no less. The inability to finish anything is my primary frustration with Windows, it drives the OCD side of my brain nuts.

      Minor update, as expected... generally looks decent but largely uninteresting... which is what a desktop OS update should be at this point in development. Feels like both major desktop operating systems are solid and high quality at this point, with more features than anyone needs.

    • will

      In reply to arknu:

      Even Microsoft never embraced UWP but they have continued to push people to build apps around it. Office Mobile, outside of OneNote, has been a joke. They should have been moving to this platform more and more over the past 3 years, and if nothing else having feature parity with the legacy Office 32bit apps.

  15. shameermulji

    You forgot one major new "feature" => Mojave will be the last macOS to support 32-bit apps.


  16. Stooks

    "a dark user interface mode, just like Windows 10"

    Or pretty much any other software maker. Dark mode is the new rage and everyone is giving that option to users so Apple was not following Microsoft or Windows but the industry as a whole.

  17. F4IL

    They also seem to be retiring OpenGL and OpenCL in favor of Metal. Although it does help the platform by getting rid of legacy technologies and providing a consistent graphics API, it seems to have caught devs by surprise.

Leave a Reply