It’s been a very long wait but today is the day when iMac and MacBook users can finally download and install macOS Big Sur. Apple has confirmed that it is now pushing out this blockbuster upgrade to MacBooks and iMacs across the globe. macOS Big Sur is fully compatible with most modern machines including all iMacs launched after 2014 and any MacBooks purchased in late 2013 or any time since. You can find a full macOS Big Sur compatibility list here.

Now macOS Big Sur is available you’ll find it featured in the Mac App Store.

However, before hitting the download button it’s a good idea to make sure all of your files are backed up just in case there are any issues during the install.

Big Sur is likely to be a large file size with the public beta weighing in at a hefty 10GB so make sure you are near some Wi-Fi and keep the family off the internet whilst trying to get things downloaded on your Mac.

Once you have it on your machine simply follow the instructions to install although it’s worth remembering that your machine could be out of action for a short time whilst the process takes place so sort any important emails before tapping the “Install” button.

Once Big Sur is loaded onto our machine you’re in for a treat and here’s some of the best features coming to your MacBook and iMac tonight.

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A WHOLE NEW LOOK

Big Sur is one of the biggest upgrades in a while and along with new features, it’s also getting an updated look. Apple says it has designed Big Sur to look more spacious with an appearance that should make navigation easier.

Everything from the curvature of window corners to the palette of colours and materials has been refined, and new features provide better information and improved power.

Even the icons in the Dock have changed with Apple stating that they have been thoughtfully designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem.

Buttons and controls also appear when needed, and recede when they’re not and the entire experience has been designed to feel more focused, fresh, and familiar – reducing visual complexity and bringing users’ content front and centre.

There’s also a redesigned Dock which is now lifted from the bottom of your display and is more translucent, allowing your desktop wallpaper to appear through it.

Another change comes to the sounds your Mac will make with new system alerts that have been created using snippets of the originals, so they sound familiar.

NEW MENU BAR AND CONTROL CENTRE

macOS Big Sur includes a new customisable menu bar which features an all-new Control Centre that should help deliver quick access to controls straight from the desktop. Designed just for Mac, the new Control Center consolidates your favourite menu bar items into a single place to give you instant access to the controls you use most.

You can even drag and pin your favourite menu items to the top of your menu bar for easy one-click access. There’s also an updated Notification Centre which now includes more interactive alerts and redesigned widgets are available providing users with more relevant information at a glance.

Notifications are automatically sorted by most recent, and redesigned Today widgets deliver information at a glance.

NEW MESSAGES

Something else that many Mac fans will be excited about is an update to the Messages app.

This blockbuster upgrade is long overdue and includes new tools to better manage important conversations and share expressive messages.

It’s basically a bit more like having your iPhone’s Messages app on your Mac.

Users can now pin their favourite conversations to the top of their messages list for fast access, and search has been entirely redesigned — organising results into links, photos, and matching terms — to help users quickly find what they are looking for.

Message effects also now come to the Mac and let users add personality to their chats with balloons, confetti, and more. Plus there’s the option to design unique Memoji straight on the Mac, and with a new photo picker and #images, it’s easy to quickly share images, GIFs, and videos.

New group messaging features streamline interactions with family, friends, and colleagues. Inline replies enable users to respond directly to a message, and now they can direct a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name. And users can now set a photo or an emoji for their group conversation that’s shared with all members of the group.

PHOTOS

macOS Big Sur brings an improved Photos application to your Mac. Included in this update are features such as a better Retouch tool which now uses advanced machine learning to remove blemishes, dust specks, and other objects from a photo

Adjustments, filters, and cropping are now supported for video editing so you can rotate, increase exposure, or even apply filters to your videos.

And you can now apply the Vibrance effect to photos and adjust the intensity of filters and Portrait Lighting effects.

SAFARI

Another popular change will arrive in the Safari web browser.

This update is the biggest change to this software since its original launch in 2003 and will make it faster and way more efficient than before.

Apple reckons this Safari boost will help it outperform other browsers with it able to load frequently visited sites an average of 50 percent faster than Google’s Chrome.

Tabs have also been entirely redesigned to make navigating faster and more powerful by showing more tabs onscreen, displaying favicons by default to easily identify open tabs, and giving users a quick preview of a page by simply hovering over the tab.

Speaking about the changes, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said: “macOS Big Sur is a major update that advances the legendary combination of the power of UNIX with the ease of use of the Mac, and delivers our biggest update to design in more than a decade.

“With its modern and clean look, huge improvements to key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, and new privacy features, we think everyone is going to love the breakthrough experience that macOS Big Sur offers.”