What Is Big Sur? Everything About macOS 11

Dany updated on Apr 12, 2023 | Home > Knowledge Center

Big Sur: A Brief Definition

macOS Big Sur (version 11) is the seventeenth major release of Apple Inc.'s operating system for Macintosh computers. It was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference(WWDC) on June 22, 2020, and was released to the public on November 12, 2020. Big Sur is the successor to macOS Catalina and was succeeded by macOS Monterey, which was released on October 25, 2021. (From Wikipedia)

In short, Big Sur is the 11th version of macOS, a Mac operating system, also one of the most widely used desktop operating systems within the desktop and laptop computers market.

Since Big Sur, of which the ultimate update is 11.7.6, replaced Catalina, there may be some differences in system requirements compared with Catalina. The list below shows that macOS Big Sur has dropped various Macs released before 2013. In other words, to download or update your computer to Big Sur, please ensure your Mac is compatible.

Compatibility of Big Sur:

  • Mid-2013 or later MacBook Air
  • Late 2013 or later Mac Pro
  • Late 2013 or later MacBook Pro
  • Mid-2014 or later iMac
  • Late 2014 or later Mac Mini
  • 2015 and later MacBook
  • 2017 and later iMac Pro

Big Sur: How to Download or Update

Apart from ensuring your Mac is compatible, the next thing you'd better do before installing is use Mac Time Machine to back up your important data. If your data is lost during the downloading or updating, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac may help you get through it.

Where to Download Big Sur

Apple has made macOS Big Sur available in the Mac App Store, and the download will be several gigabytes. Therefore, you can download macOS Big Sur through Apple's App Store.

Note: The installation can take quite a while (an hour or even more in some cases), so use a stable internet connection and be aware that you'll only be able to use your Mac.

How to Update Big Sur

Before installing this update, an internet connection is needed as well. Also, you need to restart your Mac to finish the installation. If your Mac is running Catalina, here are the steps to follow:

Step 1. Go for System Preferences.

Step 2. Click "Software Update".

Step 3. Your Mac automatically checks for updates. If an update is available, click "Upgrade Now" and download the installer.

Step 4. While downloading, you can continue using your Mac. After the installer has downloaded, you can click to install the new update.

Big Sur: New Features to Catalina

macOS Big Sur elevates the desktop OS to a new level of power and beauty. New features compared to Catalina have been listed below:


The overall interface is exceptionally smooth and will give you a seamless experience. Apart from a brand new app design, you will get a new desktop interface with a higher toolbar. There is an improved Dock; even Windows has a lighter design with softer, rounded edges, and icons within apps have received slight design tweaks and color changes.

Big Sur Dock

Control Center

The Mac Control Center is super convenient and allows you to edit the setting at a glance effortlessly. This incredible feature is included in the new macOS 11 version. Contrary to the previous versions, where the only way to access the setting was the Preference tool, in the Big Sur, the Control Center is located in the Menu Bar, making it easy to change the current settings.

Control center

Notification Center

The Notification Center has been redesigned. It now combines incoming notifications with widgets in a single view to provide more information at a glance. Notifications are now grouped by app and have additional interactive features, so you can play a new podcast or reply to an email without opening an app. Just click and hold on to a notification to access the new options.

Big Sur notofications


Safari will also see its most significant improvement ever in macOS Big Sur. Not only will Safari run faster, but it will also take lesser space on your Mac. Users can create a customized startup page and experience a smoother tab design. OS X 11 will also bring a new range of extensions to improve your browsing experience in Safari.

Big Sur Safari


Like iOS, Mac has a brand new Messages app with some of the most advanced features to help you communicate with others. In the macOS Big Sur Messages app, you can pin conversations at the start or reply to specific chats via inline replies. Some other features of the macOS 11 Messages app are advanced search, new memos, mentions, and more.

Big Sur messages


Like Messages, Apple has improved Maps for Mac. Routes with cycling directions can be planned on Mac and sent to iOS, with the directions taking into account elevation, busy roads, stairs, and more; plus, there are options for planning routes that incorporate electric vehicle charging stations.

Guides created by trusted brands and partners list suggestions of places to eat, shop, and visit in cities worldwide. You can create your Guides in the Maps app in macOS Big Sur and then share them with friends and family.

macOS Big Sur adds Look Around to the Maps app to explore cities in a detailed, street-level view. With indoor maps, you can see inside airports and shopping centers to familiarize yourself with layouts before heading out.

Big Sur maps

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Big Sur: Common Issues

The release of Big Sur came with several problems.

Brick Issue

The Big Sur (version 11.0.1) bricked some computers so that they were rendered unusable. Many of these computers were MacBook Pros released in 2013 and 2014, and the same problem also occurred on a 2019 MacBook Pro and a 2019 iMac.

Slowdown Issue

The initial rollout, macOS Big Sur (version 11.0.1), also disrupted the notarization process of Apple's app, causing slowdown issues even on devices not running Big Sur. Users reported that the update was slow or might fail to install. macOS Catalina and Big Sur apps took a long load because of Gatekeeper issues.

Privacy and Security Issues

In 2021, two pieces of malware-infected macOS included x86-64 and ARM64 code. The former was detected in early 2021, and the latter, "Silver Sparrow", was seen in February 2021 on almost 30,000 Macs. It's unknown what initiated the download for any of the infected Macs. There wasn't anything malicious going on in the Silver Sparrow malware, which has caused some to question if it can be called "malware". However, it's still a large virus with a fast infection rate and a high degree of success.

Upgrading Issue

Upgrading Macs from 10.13, 10.14, and 10.15 to Big Sur could be stuck for unknown reasons. Only an entire system restore from the backup could resolve this issue. On October 21, 2021, a solution was found that you were required to remove up to hundreds of thousands of temporary files in the system folders.

Even though Apple has solved some of the issues above, it is still your decision to run your Mac in Big Sur, the newer version of Monterey, or the latest version of Ventura.


This passage has elaborated on macOS Big Sur from four aspects: the brief definition, how to download or update, the main features, and the issues of Big Sur. Given that Big Sur is the version released almost three years ago, a macOS comparison between Monterey and Big Sur has occurred. After reading this article, you already have a relatively complete understanding of macOS Big Sur, and whether to download Big Sur or not is on your side.

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Updated by Dany

Dany is an editor of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. She focuses on writing articles about data recovery on Mac devices and PCs. She is devoted to improving her writing skills and enriching her professional knowledge. Dany also enjoys reading detective novels in her spare time.

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