macOS 11 Big Sur

macOS 11.0 Big Sur and New Apple Products

Last week, Apple announced three new macOS-based hardware products and released a new version of the macOS operating system—macOS 11.0 Big Sur.

The three new hardware products (the MacBook Air, the low-end MacBook Pro 13-inch, and the new Mac mini) are built with a new M1 ARM processor designed by Apple. This processor is not Intel-based, the known standard that macOS products have utilized for fourteen years.

ITS will thoroughly test these new products over the next few months, both for compatibility with College applications and services and for overall performance. At this time, we are not approving the new ARM-based hardware for College use. All Intel-based macOS devices remain approved for purchase and use by Swarthmore departments. Intel-based Apple products are still available to purchase, including a mid-range MacBook Pro 13-inch and a different Mac mini.

macOS 11.0 Big Sur is the annual update to the macOS operating system. Every new operating system ships with bugs and incompatibilities, so we recommend holding off on upgrading existing computers. Though ITS expects to approve Mac OS 11.0 Big Sur for use on new Intel-based hardware in the next few weeks, macOS 10.15 Catalina will remain the recommended operating system until sometime in 2021.

With the release of macOS 11.0, it is time for an important reminder about older macOS versions. Apple tends to support their operating systems for three years, and the security patch released in September 2020 for macOS 10.13.x is likely to be the last one for that release. If any of your macOS devices are running macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, we ask that you upgrade them to macOS 10.15 Catalina at this time. The majority of College Macintosh computers are already running Catalina, our supported operating system.

To upgrade to macOS Catalina (10.15) on a College-owned computer, please refer to these instructions: