Apple Releases MacOS Monterey

Posted on October 26, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Mac and macOS with 32 Comments

Apple announced that macOS Monterey is now available as a free upgrade for users with supported Intel- and M1-based Macs.

“macOS Monterey delivers groundbreaking new features that help users connect in new ways, accomplish more, and work seamlessly across their Apple devices,” Apple says of the evolutionary update. “FaceTime includes new audio and video features that make calls feel more natural and lifelike, and new Continuity tools like AirPlay to Mac enable Apple devices to work even better together. Live Text and Visual Lookup bring new intelligence features to surface useful information, Safari includes powerful tab organization with Tab Groups, and the ease of automation comes to the Mac with Shortcuts.”

Beyond those new features, macOS Monterey also includes new Notes functionality, including Quick Notes, Tags, and Activity View; a choice of tab styles in Safari; Shared with You, which works across Messages, Photos, Safari, Apple Podcasts, Apple News, and the Apple TV app; new immersive experiences in Apple Maps; new premium iCloud+ features, spatial audio support on M1-based Macs; privacy protection in Mail; and more.

Apple notes that some promised features, like SharePlay, will ship later this fall. This has become common with Apple’s various platforms, but let’s not forget that Microsoft is doing it now too.

You can learn more about macOS Monterey from the Apple website.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Apple Releases MacOS Monterey”

  1. saint4eva

    WOoow. Hardware and chip requirement is good by Apple, but not good by Microsoft.

    • karlinhigh

      It makes a difference what expectations have been set in the past, and whether or not people feel like those are being violated.

    • jimchamplin

      macOS won't run on unsupported hardware without often considerable work. I could install Big Sur on my Late 2012 Mac mini, but would require moving kernel extensions around, finding patched files, all that. And then some things just don't work right because they're tied to hardware features that are not present on older machines.


      Windows 11 on the other hand is simply a release of Windows with an installer hard-coded to not install on certain systems. You can install it by copying the install.esd over the corresponding file on a Windows 10 install USB, or using dism on a clean, prepared disk. It works correctly and perfectly. Yes, even the updates work.

    • MikeCerm

      There's a big difference though. In this new update, Apple is supporting certain models from as far back as 2013, and every model from 2015 or newer. With Windows 11, Microsoft is not supporting a number of CPUs that are still currently in production by Intel, and shipping in new systems that you can buy today. Ordinarily, Apple is the bad guy for cutting off support for perfectly usable systems after just 7 years. Here, Microsoft is acting worse than Apple ever has.

    • lwetzel

      They build that into their systems. They know what sells new Macs.


    • Greg Green

      Did Microsoft switch from x86 to ARM?

      • karlinhigh

        Did Microsoft switch from x86 to ARM?


        They keep trying. Windows RT, Windows 10 on ARM. Like our host says, if it doesn't run Windows software, it's not a REAL Windows in the eyes of Microsoft's customers.

        • thewarragulman

          Windows on ARM is there today, it can run "real" Windows apps, either by a native ARM compile or by x86 or x64 emulation. We just need the ARM chipsets to catch up in performance to make it viable, as what we have now is too underpowered to be competitive with the M1, let alone the M1 Pro/M1 Max

  2. will

    Monterey is very much a refinement release from Big Sur, but there are little things that are overall good:

    • Shortcuts will be good as more and more apps take advantage of this
    • TestFlight coming to macOS
    • Airplay to the Mac and not just from it
    • A nice option for your personal Memoji at the login screen that is animated
  3. blue77star

    I checked performance of new Alder Lake vs M1X, Intel ate it for lunch in term of performance.

    • Jeffsters

      I love the new Geek Bench score of “ate it for lunch” very informative post.

    • ianbetteridge

      Leaving aside that Apple doesn’t make an “M1X”, I’d recommend you read a proper technical overview like Anandtech’s. That shows M1 Max easily outperforming Intel with significantly lower power draw in many areas.

    • shameer_mulji

      That's an exaggeration. It beat it but barely and at 3X the power draw.

    • pecosbob04

      Care to provide some specifics? "ate it for lunch" is a little lacking in detail. Were you using benchmarks or you own witches brew of a test suite? Had the Apple version of the test software been compiled to run native on the M1 or was Rosette 2 involved? Equivalent Memory and storage speeds? Looking forward to your testing review.

      • MikeCerm

        That dude is delusional. According to the leaked scores on Geekbench, Alder Lake single-thread performance is like 5% better than the new M1 models, and slightly lower multi-core performance than the M1 Max. And yeah, when you compare power draw -- Alder Lake is likely to have a 125W TDP, compared to like 40W actual power draw by the M1 Max -- Intel is really not in a good spot. I mean, Apple could basically just duct tape three M1 chips together and release a Mac Pro that has literally 3x the multi-core performance of Intel's best chips, and still have loads of thermal headroom. Seriously, Apple is so far ahead that it's just unreal. Intel fans can't even comprehend it, so they lash out.

  4. longhorn

    I think macOS Mojave introduced a feature that tints your applications according to your current wallpaper. Similar to Mica in Windows 11.


    I wonder if this feature is still there in macOS Monterey. The screenshots look a little bland.


  5. polloloco51

    I actually upgraded a 2020 MacBook Air M1, to Monterey. It was a painless experience! Albeit, the update was 3 times bigger than Windows (12GB). The differences between Sur and Monterey, is subtle.


    The update took about 25-30 minutes, downloading and installing.

    • Donte

      Big Sur introduced some much tighter kernel security with a Sealed System Volume. Because of this patching and updating basically replaces this whole volume, resealing it to secure it.


      Updates are bigger and take longer, but the end result is a system volume that is much more malware resistant. Big Sur broke software that tries to update drivers or touch the kernel in some ways. My KeySpan USB-Serial device I use for console ports flat out stopped working. It used an older driver model that no longer worked. I had to switch to a USB-C to serial (console port Rj45 end) uses the newer FTDI FT232R chips that Big Sur has a native driver for.

    • j5

      Lol yes I was like dang when I saw at how heavy the file size was.

  6. j5

    This is my 2nd Mac OS upgrade experience (upgraded to Big Sur back in April) and it's be flawless compared to my experiences upgrading an OS with Microsoft.

    With Mac OS there are almost no steps compared to Windows, it's crazy! You go to System Preference > Software Update > that window it's self start's downloading the update. You get a message to restart your computer to install the OS update. Wait for it to install. It starts up and it's installed! WTF!!!

    Windows you have to go through tons of screens, lots of warning messages about programs you have installed, and I can remember ONLY ONE time that my Windows computer would restart with no issues. I was upgrading to Windows 10 from 7, not clean install/format. But on other PCs there is always issues. YOU KNOW Microsoft will be releasing a major fix because it broke something. I still really like Windows. But honestly Windows can't hold a candle to Mac OS when it comes to upgrading your OS. Maybe it's because Microsoft has to worry about more hardware and software differences? Apple only has to worry about their own hardware and software through out the years. But even then at this point, we're in 2021 and Windows has been around for over 30 years, they should have some of these important processed nailed down.


    Oh personally I think Monterey is kind of a boring update. I think Universal Control is very neat...but in my normie daily use I don't know when I'll need that. I can see a business person that's on the go A LOT probably getting use out of it. Bringing their Mac Book/iPad next to their home/work Mac and moving stuff that way. But to this normie user I'd just use AirPlay, email, cloud storage to transfer or get what I need from my Apple devices. The Safari upgrades are welcomed...but nothing new. The privacy stuff is great...but again not new. I get this already with a VPN I pay for/and free ones. And I get throw away emails from Abine Blue, SimpleLogin, and some others. So yeah neat update but boring and nothing revolutionary or that makes me excited.

    • MikeCerm

      Funny, I have the exact opposite view of updates on Mac. This update was 12.3 GB -- how?! Why is the download so huge? Monterey is virtually indistinguishable from Big Sur. It's probably downloading a full OS image, but the Windows 11 installation ISO is like 5 GB, and it has 100x more hardware to support. Downloading Monterey took about 45 minutes, and then the update started and took another 45 minutes. My Surface Laptop 3 was able to update to Windows 11 in about 25 minutes. Every benchmark and metric will tell you it's at least 30% slower than the M1 MacBook Air, and yet it manages to update in less than half the time (if you count the time it took to download).


      I also recently updated my Pixel 4a to Android 12, and that took a lot less time than it took my 2021 iPad mini to install the little point-release upgrade from iOS 15 to 15.0.2, despite having like 3x the CPU and storage performance of the Pixel. Unless there's something I'm missing, it seems that Apple really doesn't know how to optimize updates at all.

      • Oreo

        @j5's point was reliability of updates, not speed. In the grand scheme of things, who cares how long they take (within reason)?

        • MikeCerm

          I think the time that Apple takes to do updates is outside of what I consider reasonable, given the speed the system. I haven't crunched the numbers, but it's not a stretch to say you could rewrite the entire SSD with random data 10 times over in less than 45 minutes. The download was slow for me, too. And Mac OS updates are not perfect either, my Air is on 12.0.1, so clearly they already had to patch something, and iPad mini is on 15.0.2 just a month after release. Not saying it's a bad thing, just saying that Apple's got problems too, and those tiny point-release updates take 5 times longer on Mac than the typical monthly updates from Microsoft do.

    • Oreo

      Welcome to the Mac. Until 2014, I had an unbroken record of straight upgrades starting from 10.0 till whatever version was up to date then. And I only had to break my streak, because my new machine featured an SSD and didn’t have enough space for me to just migrate my data over.


      I also noticed that not much has changed at first glance with Big Sur. But conversely, from friends who were running the betas I heard good things about the quality of the beta — including the golden master aka final release build. I like boring on my work machine.

  7. bkkcanuck

    "Apple notes that some promised features, like SharePlay, will ship later this fall. This has become common with Apple’s various platforms, but let’s not forget that Microsoft is doing it now too. "


    It is one of the better software practices they are following. If something is not ready, don't push it out the door. If it is not critical, don't use it is an excuse to stop a release. If company (or someone - but mostly applies to companies) does not want to certify the release without the missing functionality, they can let those that are early adopters go first with the early release and install the later released version. Usually when we release software the customers usually want to go through acceptance testing that takes a while, missing a release schedule (rather than delaying a small update of it) ... makes more of a mess of the testing schedule than split releases. I don't recommend anyone that relies on software for business to be an early adopter anyway.

    • Jeffsters

      It also slipped in iOS 15 but was introduced in iOS 15.1. The Mac update was slated to come later and the code issues in iOS were solved to late to get into the final Mac OS. It won’t be a long wait.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Another good practice is to not promise a feature in a product if you can't deliver it on time.

      • GT Tecolotecreek

        Umm, just like the promised feature of being able to edit posts on this site...

      • Oreo

        Once you start thinking of the announced features as being rolled out in the course of the year, it’s fine. Besides, Apple’s software quality has increased since they made that change and I’d rather have some features later than early and not usable.

      • bkkcanuck

        The only way to do that is either having surprise features that you don't announce until they show up as a surprise, or underbooking development... When you schedule, you are booking based on expected resources and expected hours - so either you only book 80% of the schedule and deliver everything but very likely have 10 - 15% of the development (development, unit testing, embedded testing and QA) cycles lost. I prefer booking 80% on things that are the larger items (larger or destabilizing changes earlier), and smaller nice to have things in the last 20% with the caveat that if some things run over because of unforeseen issues during development. The change in development environment from office to home will have an effect on the schedule (not me, I have been remote for 10 years though).

  8. Saarek

    This is my type of update. Primarily focused on refinement and bug fixing as opposed to new features.


    Big Sur was great, but a bit gaudy, so nice to see that toned down a bit.

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