Mac OS Big Sur vs Monterey: Which is Right for You?

Estimated read time 11 min read

Mac os big sur vs monterey

Apple has always been at the forefront of technology, constantly pushing the boundaries with their innovative products. With each new release of their operating system, they aim to enhance the user experience and deliver cutting-edge features. Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey are no exception to this rule. Both operating systems offer a wide range of improvements and updates, but how do they compare? In this comprehensive comparison, we will delve into the details of these two systems and help you decide which one is right for you.

Big Sur was released in 2020 and brought a fresh and modern design to the Mac operating system. With its revamped user interface and new icons, it provided a visually pleasing experience. It introduced the Control Center, which consolidated various system controls into one convenient location, and the customizable menu bar. Multitasking was also improved with the introduction of the new and improved Mission Control.

Now, with the release of Monterey, Apple once again raises the bar. Building on the foundation of Big Sur, Monterey introduces even more exciting features. One of the highlights is Universal Control, which allows seamless control and sharing of content between Mac and iPad. This feature alone is a game-changer for those who work across multiple devices. Additionally, Monterey introduces the Focus mode, which helps users stay in the zone by minimizing distractions and tailoring notifications based on their current activity.

Design and User Interface

The design and user interface of a operating system can greatly impact the overall user experience. Both Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey showcase Apple’s commitment to sleek and modern design, while also introducing some notable differences.

Big Sur

Mac OS Big Sur introduced a significant redesign to the macOS interface, with a focus on simplicity and consistency. It features a refreshed toolbar, refined icons, and a new Control Center that provides quick access to commonly used settings.

The system-wide color palette has been updated, with a greater emphasis on translucency and vibrant hues. This adds depth and visual appeal to the interface. The window corners have been rounded, further enhancing the modern aesthetic.

Big Sur also brings improvements to app icons, which now have a more uniform and streamlined appearance. The updated dock features a translucent effect, making it blend seamlessly with the desktop background.


Building upon the design language introduced in Big Sur, Mac OS Monterey refines the user interface even further. One of the notable changes is the introduction of a new floating window feature called “Quick Note,” which allows users to jot down notes and reminders from any app.

Monterey also introduces an enhanced Control Center, making it easier to access system controls and widgets. Users can customize the layout and add their favorite controls for quick access.

Another significant design change in Monterey is the introduction of “Focus” mode, which allows users to personalize their experience by filtering out notifications and distractions. This feature helps users stay focused on their work or leisure activities.

In terms of aesthetics, Monterey showcases new wallpaper options inspired by nature, bringing a sense of calm and tranquility to the desktop.


Both Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey offer sleek and modern design, with Big Sur focusing on simplicity and consistency, while Monterey refines the user interface with new features and customization options. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on individual preferences and the specific needs of the user.

Performance and System Requirements

When it comes to performance, both Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey offer significant improvements over their predecessors. However, there are some differences to consider.

Performance Improvements

Performance Improvements

Both Big Sur and Monterey introduce a variety of optimizations and enhancements that contribute to improved performance on compatible Mac devices. These include faster app launching, smoother multitasking, and enhanced power management.

One notable feature is Universal Control, which allows users to seamlessly control multiple Apple devices using a single mouse and keyboard. This feature is available on both Big Sur and Monterey and provides a more efficient workflow.

System Requirements

When it comes to system requirements, Big Sur and Monterey have similar hardware requirements. Both operating systems require a Mac with at least 4GB of RAM, 64GB of available storage, and a compatible graphics card.

However, Monterey introduces a new feature called “Continuity Keyboard,” which requires a Mac with an M1 chip for seamless keyboard sharing between Mac and iPad. This feature is not supported on older Intel-based Macs, making it exclusively available on Macs with Apple Silicon.

Additionally, Monterey offers support for a wider range of Mac models compared to Big Sur. Macs as old as 2013 can run Monterey, whereas Big Sur requires at least a 2014 Mac or later.

Operating System Minimum RAM Requirement Minimum Storage Requirement Compatible Graphics Card
Big Sur 4GB 64GB
Monterey 4GB 64GB Compatible with Apple Silicon

In conclusion, both Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey offer performance improvements, but Monterey introduces some exclusive features that require Macs with Apple Silicon. It is important to check compatibility before upgrading to ensure a smooth and efficient experience with the new operating system.

New Features and Enhancements

macOS Monterey introduces a wide range of exciting new features and enhancements that aim to improve the overall user experience. Here are some of the standout additions:

1. Universal Control

1. Universal Control

One of the most anticipated features of macOS Monterey is Universal Control. This innovative feature allows users to seamlessly control multiple Apple devices using just one keyboard and mouse. With Universal Control, you can move your cursor between your Mac, iPad, and even your Apple Watch, making multitasking and productivity on multiple devices more convenient than ever.

2. Focus Mode

Focus Mode is a new feature designed to help users stay focused and minimize distractions. With this feature, you can create custom focus modes that filter notifications and apps based on your preferences. Whether you’re working, studying, or relaxing, Focus Mode helps you stay in the zone and avoid unnecessary interruptions.

3. Live Text

Live Text is a powerful new addition to macOS Monterey that makes it easier to extract text from images and use it in various applications. Using the built-in OCR (optical character recognition) technology, you can now select and copy text from photos, screenshots, and even webpages. This feature is incredibly useful for tasks like copying phone numbers, addresses, or even translating foreign language text.

4. FaceTime Upgrades

4. FaceTime Upgrades

macOS Monterey brings several exciting improvements to FaceTime, Apple’s popular video calling application. With the new FaceTime features, you can now enjoy spatial audio, which makes it feel like the sound is coming from different directions, giving a more natural listening experience. Additionally, FaceTime now supports Portrait mode, allowing you to blur the background and bring focus to yourself during video calls.

5. Shortcuts App

5. Shortcuts App

Previously available only on iOS, the Shortcuts app comes to macOS Monterey, allowing users to automate tasks and create shortcuts for improved productivity. With the Shortcuts app, you can build complex workflows and automate repetitive actions, making your workflow more efficient and saving you time and effort.

These are just a few of the many new features and enhancements that macOS Monterey brings to the table. From enhanced privacy measures to revamped Safari and improved collaboration features in Notes, Monterey is poised to provide users with an even more immersive and productive computing experience.

Security and Privacy

Security and Privacy

Security and privacy are key concerns for users when it comes to their operating systems. Both Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey have implemented various features to enhance security and protect user privacy. Let’s take a closer look at how they compare in terms of security and privacy.

Security Features

Security Features

Mac OS Big Sur introduced a number of security features aimed at keeping user data safe and preventing unauthorized access. One notable feature is the improved Gatekeeper that provides enhanced security for downloaded apps. It ensures that only trusted apps from the Mac App Store or identified developers can be installed and run on your Mac.

In addition, Big Sur also introduced data protections that strengthen the security of system files and sensitive user data. These protections help prevent malware and other malicious software from accessing and modifying critical system files, providing an additional layer of security.

On the other hand, Mac OS Monterey takes security even further with the introduction of new features such as Mail Privacy Protection. This feature prevents senders from knowing when you open an email and hides your IP address, ensuring that your privacy is maintained when using the Mail app.

Privacy Features

Privacy Features

Both Big Sur and Monterey have prioritized user privacy and provide features to help users protect their personal information. In Big Sur, the Privacy Report feature gives users a detailed overview of how websites are accessing their data, allowing them to make informed decisions about their online privacy.

Monterey expands on this with the addition of App Privacy Reports. This feature provides transparency into how apps are accessing user data such as contacts, photos, and microphone. It gives users the ability to see which apps have requested access to their data and when that access was granted, allowing them to have better control over their privacy.

Another significant privacy feature introduced in Monterey is the iCloud Private Relay. This feature encrypts user internet traffic and routes it through two separate internet relays, ensuring that no one, not even Apple, can view or intercept the data.

Security and Privacy Features Mac OS Big Sur Mac OS Monterey
Improved Gatekeeper
Data Protections
Mail Privacy Protection
Privacy Report
App Privacy Reports
iCloud Private Relay

As shown in the table above, Monterey introduces several new security and privacy features that are not available in Big Sur, making it a more advanced and secure operating system.

In conclusion, both Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey prioritize security and privacy, but Monterey takes it a step further with the introduction of new features such as Mail Privacy Protection, App Privacy Reports, and iCloud Private Relay, providing enhanced security and privacy for users.


What are the key differences between Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey?

There are several key differences between Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey. One major difference is the redesigned interface in Monterey, featuring new icons, buttons, and control center. Another difference is the introduction of new features such as Focus mode, Live Text, and Universal Control, which are not available in Big Sur. Additionally, Monterey offers enhanced privacy features like Mail Privacy Protection and Private Relay, which are not present in Big Sur.

Which version is more stable: Mac OS Big Sur or Monterey?

Both Mac OS Big Sur and Monterey are stable operating systems, but Monterey is a newer version and has had more time to address any stability issues present in Big Sur. However, it’s always a good idea to check for updates and ensure that you have the latest version installed, as software updates often include bug fixes and performance improvements.

Can I upgrade from Mac OS Big Sur to Monterey for free?

Yes, upgrading from Mac OS Big Sur to Monterey is free. Apple typically offers free upgrades to its operating systems, allowing users to take advantage of new features and improvements without any additional cost. You can check for available updates in the System Preferences on your Mac and download the Monterey upgrade from there.

Are all my apps compatible with Mac OS Monterey if I’m currently using Big Sur?

While most apps should be compatible with Mac OS Monterey if they are already running on Big Sur, there may be some apps that require updates to work seamlessly with the new operating system. It’s a good idea to check with the developers of your essential apps to ensure compatibility before upgrading to Monterey. Additionally, Apple provides a list of compatible apps on their website, which can help you determine if your apps will work with Monterey.


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