macOS Big Sur: gorgeous visual overhaul, new widgets, and new control center

Image: Apple

During the first ever online-only World Wide Developers Conference, Apple took the wraps off its latest macOS operating system, Big Sur. Apple says that Big Sur takes the biggest leap in design since Mac OS X. Here’s everything you need to know.

Gorgeous New Visual Design

Image: Apple

macOS Big Sur features a gorgeous new visual overhaul, with translucency, disappearing buttons, overhauled icons, and an overall cleaner look. “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,” says Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

Big Sur also brings Control Center to the Mac for the first time. Rather than independently clicking icons on the menu bar, Control Center consolidates all your controls in one place. Control Center also features new sliders for sound and brightness, and also implement the look of iOS for the Mac.

The dock in Big Sur now floats slightly above the bottom of the display, with all four corners now rounded. The dock icons also feature a new rounded square design similar to iOS and iPadOS.

Big Sur also features a revised notification center that also brings Widgets from iOS and iPadOS to the Mac.

“An updated Notification Center in macOS Big Sur includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets, providing users with more relevant information at a glance,” says Apple.

macOS Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips.


Apple touts Safari on macOS Big Sur as being “the biggest update to Safari since its original.” Safari on Big Sur has been redesigned just like the rest of macOS, but takes most, if not all, of its design cues straight from iPadOS.

Safari on macOS Big Sur features redesigned tabs. Apple says the new tabs have been redesigned to “display more tabs onscreen, show favicons by default, and provide a preview of a webpage by hovering over the tab.”

A first for Safari is custom backgrounds for new tab pages. “Users can customize the new start page with a background image and sections like their Reading List and iCloud Tabs,” says Apple.

Apple also implemented a brand-new Privacy Report feature straight into Safari by clicking the shield icon to the left of the search bar. “Users can choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with, and tools like data breach password monitoring never reveal your password information — not even to Apple.”

iMessage overhaul

One of the most highly requested features of macOS was for Apple to redesign their Messages app. The app has been neglected for many years, only receiving new updates when Memojis and various other Messages for iPhone updates come around.

This year, Apple is bringing the Messages app from iOS 14 and implementing it directly into Big Sur. “Users can now pin their favorite conversations to the top of their messages list for fast access, and search has been entirely redesigned — organizing results into links, photos, and matching terms — to help users quickly find what they are looking for,” says Apple.


macOS Big Sur is available for developers beginning today, with public beta testing starting in July. Big Sur will be available as a free update in the fall.

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