Review: macOS Mojave

Last year’s macOS High Sierra was a bit of a disaster for Apple. It was buggy and it also suffered from a very nasty and embarrassing bug that allowed anyone to gain root level access. The optics were not that good for Apple. Thus they had to bring something to the table that was much, much better. macOS Mojave was intended to be that.

From an install standpoint, it was easy and orderly. I had no hiccups or anything like that with any of the machines that I tried it on. And it took under an hour for the most part.

First, let’s deal with the one feature that people are making a big deal about. Dark Mode. While for me it’s not a game changer, many of my friends who do photo editing and video editing for a living are thrilled to bits that this feature is present as it makes it easier to do what they have to do for 8 to 10 hours a day. You’ll be asked to enable it after you install Mojave (Which by the way, I did not. But I did try it to see what it was like before switching back to a normal desktop).

But one feature that does mean something to me is Desktop Stacks. It automatically groups items on your desktop into “stacks” of similar types of things. So one stack collects images, another collects screenshots, another collects PDFs, and so on. Because of that, I am able to find stuff quickly and easily.

Another feature that means something to me is that screenshots works in a similar fashion just like it does on iOS. Press Shift-Command-5 and a small panel will appear at the bottom of the screen. There are three screenshot buttons that let you capture the entire screen, a window or a selection of your screen. Likewise, the two video-recording buttons let you record your entire screen or a selection of it. On the left is an X button to close the screenshot panel, but you can also just hit the Escape key to exit out. On the right side is an Options button. It lets you choose where to save your screenshot — Desktop, Documents, Clipboard, Mail, Messages or Preview — and set a 5- or 10-second delay so you can line up items that might otherwise disappear when you engage your screenshot tool. This is a definite boost for someone like me who takes screenshots frequently.

There’s a bunch of random stuff that you might or might not care about:

  • Dynamic Desktop lets you choose from one of two wallpapers that automatically change throughout the day. Yawn.
  • There’s a new Gallery view option in Finder which seems like it could be helpful for photographers.
  • Safari is also doing more to block websites from tracking you around the web. Everyone should care about that. Though I suspect Facebook among others will be none too pleased.
  • There’s now a feature where passwords can be audited and strong passwords are enforced with websites and the like.
  • Apple is working on a way to port iOS apps to macOS. Why I am not sure. But as proof of their efforts, Notes, News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home have been ported across and work much like the iOS versions. With the exception of News which didn’t work for me because I am in Canada and sometimes Canada can’t get nice things from Apple like Apple Pay Cash and News. But I digress. This is clearly meant as part of Apple’s strategy to drive you to use iCloud more as they hope that you’ll store data in iCloud so that all your iDevices get access to it.
  • The Mac App Store has been redesigned and that’s something that has been long overdue as the look of it was very dated.
  • 32-Bit apps on the Mac are on the way out and the OS will let you know when you run one of them so that you can update it because next year, you won’t be able to run that app at all.
  • Siri seems marginally smarter. But not as smart as Siri on my Apple Watch or my iPhone.
  • Software update is now outside the App Store and inside System Preferences where it should have been in the first place.
  • Messages is now exclusively an iMessage/SMS client. Support for AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, and any other service based on the XMPP/Jabber protocol is gone.
  • The ability to add social networking accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is gone. I’m guessing that it also means that Apple doesn’t have to fix this issue that I reported to them.
  • OpenGL and OpenCL support is gone in favor of Apple’s in house Metal graphics API. Something that has already riled up game developers who are now making noises about abandoning the Mac platform. Their anger makes zero sense as OpenGL and OpenCL support are largely dead or dying APIs anyway.
  • Back To My Mac is gone. What you didn’t use it? Neither did anyone else.
  • There’s a new login screen with easier to read text. If you’re 45 or older, you’ll rejoice over this change.

So let’s get to security. Apple is trying to up their game when it comes to security. To that end, apps are now required to get your permission to access your Mac’s microphone and camera. Which makes macOS kind of like iOS which has done that for years. It’s also supposed to protect your personal info like contacts and the like. But right out of the gate that’s already been proven to be flawed and will likely require a fix sooner rather than later. It also requires apps like Carbon Copy Cloner to be given full access to the disk. Now all of this won’t bother more technical users. But I can see how less technical users might be a bit peeved by all this extra security. Though I will note that all this extra security is for the benefit of everyone.

Bugs? I haven’t found anything of note so far. But it’s early days yet on that front so we’ll see in the coming days.

Is Mojave worth the upgrade? Well, it’s free and brings a number of interesting new features to the table and is a much better effort than High Sierra was. But as always I’d wait until the first bug fix update appears before making the jump.

 

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