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macOS 11 Big Sur Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Article ID = 240
Article Title = macOS 11 Big Sur Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 6th May 2020
Article Last Updated = 13th August 2020
Article URL = https://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?240

Article Brief Description:
Frequently Asked Questions about macOS 11 Big Sur

WARNINGS!

  • Big Sur has a Signed System Volume - this means if you install it in the same APFS "container" as another version of macOS you will have issues booting. If you wish to install macOS Big Sur on the same storage device as older versions of macOS (such as a dual boot configuration) you must create a new "container" (partition) for macOS Big Sur and install it to that separate container/partition!
  • Big Sur does not support legacy System/Kernel Extensions (KEXTs)
  • PHP is deprecated and will be removed from a future version of macOS
  • Just like Catalina, Big Sur:
    • does not support 32-Bit Applications
    • does not support legacy media formats
    • no longer trusts TLS certificates signed with the SHA-1 hash algorithm
    • has an upgraded version of the Reminders application - when using Reminders, if you choose to upgrade to the new format, it will then only synchronise with iOS 13 or later | macOS 10.15 or later
    • does not support Apple's hardware RAID and Apple's RAID Utility has been removed
    • does not support installing on and booting from FireWire storage
    • splits iTunes into separate applications but also removes support for Playlist XML files - many popular DJ applications no longer work in Big Sur and will need to be upgraded
    • Safari 13 does not support .safariextz packaged Safari Extensions - see our Big Sur Third Party Product Compatibility Information article
    • Safari 13 does not support legacy NPAPI browser plug-ins except for Adobe Flash
    • has removed the Dashboard feature - it is no longer available in the Mission Control System Preferences
    • has a dedicated system volume - backup/cloning/disk repair software will almost definitely need to be updated/upgraded to work with this new version of macOS
    • disables legacy smart card support that uses TokenD
    • the default shell is Zsh not Bash
    • Python 2.7 is no longer included - use Python 3 instead
    • XQuartz is still 32-bit so currently (X11) does not work on Big Sur

macOS 11 Big Sur Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When will macOS 11 Big Sur be released?
A. Big Sur was officially announced at Apple's WWDC online virtual event on 22nd June 2020. The first Developer Preview was made available on 22nd June 2020. The first Public Beta was made available on 6th August 2020. The consumer edition of Big Sur will be available in the autumn of 2020 probably September or October.
Q. How much does macOS 11 Big Sur cost?
A. It will be free (as in, a free download via the internet) with a total download size of around ~12GB.
Q. In our family/household/business the different Macs have different iTunes / App Store accounts on them. Do I have to download Big Sur multiple times?
A. No. You can have more than one iTunes / App Store authorisation on a single machine. Use one of the iTunes / App Store accounts to authorise each computer in the family/household/business in turn to download and install Big Sur (in the App Store application click on the "Purchases" tab).
NOTE: Mac App Store authorisations (for consumers) are different to iTunes authorisations. Mac App Store authorisations are unlimited whereas the iTunes authorisation limit is 10.
Q. How do I install Big Sur on multiple computers?
A. Option 1: Download Big Sur individually on each computer at ~12GB in size each time.
A. Option 2: Download the Big Sur installer on one computer (at ~12GB in size), quit the installer and copy the installer to each computer's Applications folder that you want to install Big Sur on.
A. Option 3: Download the Big Sur installer on one computer (at ~12GB in size) and obtain the macOS Install Disc Image to use on each computer that you want to install Big Sur on.
Q. Which Macs can I install Big Sur on?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs are compatible with Big Sur:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2013 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13"/15" (Early 2013 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Late 2014 or newer)
  • iMac (Mid 2014 or newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
Q. How can I check what specifications my computer has or graphics capability it has?
Q. Which Mac do I have?
A. You can check "Processor", "Memory" and macOS/OS X/Mac OS X "Version" by going to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary (hint - clicking on the version number will give you the "build" number).
A. To check your Mac's "Model Name" go to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary > check for the computer name in the top line e.g. "MacBook Pro" (this can only be checked with OS X 10.7 or later)
A. To check your Mac's model date version go to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary > check the details after the Model Name e.g. "Early 2015" (this can only be checked with OS X 10.7 or later) - to be more specific and exact you can check what "Model Identifier" your Mac has by:
  • If you are running Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Profiler application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right.
  • If you are running OS X 10.7 or OS X 10.8 go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right under 'Hardware Overview'.
  • If you are running OS X 10.9 or later go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "Overview" tab in the top left > click the "System Report…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right under 'Hardware Overview'.
A. To check what graphics capability your Mac has:
  • If you are running Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Profiler application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
  • If you are running OS X 10.7 or OS X 10.8 go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
  • If you are running OS X 10.9 or later go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "Overview" tab in the top left > click the "System Report…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below. With OS X 10.11 or later here you will also find whether your GPU supports "Metal".
A. To check your Mac's "Model Number" it is usually printed/engraved on the outside of the computer somewhere (it usually begins with the letter A or M).
Q. What new features does Big Sur have?
A. See Apple's official macOS 11 Big Sur preview web page. MacStrategy's recommended features to note are:
  • Control Center - just like iOS/iPadOS with quick access to common settings/preferences and also customisable
  • Faster software updates - updates can now perform part of the update process in the background
  • New Find My application
  • New Messages features:
    • Pinned conversations - up to nine pinned conversations that sync across Messages in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS - iOS/iPadOS 14 or later
    • Group conversations now with inline replies/threads and direct mentions
    • Enhanced Search
    • Enhanced photo picker
    • Message effects, Memoji editor + new Memoji stickers
  • New Safari features:
    • Customisable start page
    • Favicons in tabs
    • Inline web page Translation (initially only available in the USA and Canada with support for English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Brazilian Portuguese)
    • Web page privacy reports
    • Password monitoring
    • Import passwords and settings from Chrome
  • Signed system volume
  • New overall design, colour shading schemes, symbols and application icons
  • New updated Notification Center
  • Redesigned and customisable Notification Center Widgets
  • Updated menu bar with option to pin Control Center settings to it
  • Floating Dock
  • Updated Maps application with multiple new features support
  • New bilingual dictionaries (French–German, Indonesian–English, Japanese–Simplified Chinese, and Polish–English)
  • Enhanced predictive input for Chinese and Japanese
  • New fonts for India
  • Localised message effects in Messages for India
  • New features for Apple Arcade, Home, Music, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Spotlight, Voice memos, and Weather
  • Apple "TV" application installed by default
NOTE: For the minimum system requirements of various new features see the relevant Q&A further down this page.
Q. Does macOS 11 support all 64-bit applications?
A. No. All components and resources used by the 64-bit application must also be 64-bit (compatible). Apple has stated some things will not work in macOS 10.15 or later:
Q. What's this about Apple moving to its own silicon/processors/chips?
A. Apple officially announced at their WWDC online virtual event on 22nd June 2020 that they were going to transition to using their own hardware processors in their Mac range of computers instead of using Intel processors. We have more information about that here.
Q. Will macOS 11 support virtual machines/environments via Parallels, Fusion and VirtualBox?
A. Yes, but…
  • If your Mac has an Intel processor you should still be able to virtualise macOS, LINUX and Windows as normal.
  • If your Mac has an Apple processor you should be able to virtualise macOS and LINUX but possibly not Windows and you may not be able to virtualise older versions of macOS - we will update this article when we know more.
Q. Will macOS 11 support running iOS/iPadOS apps on a Mac?
A. Yes, but…
  • If your Mac has an Intel processor it has not been made clear whether you can or can't do this but it is most likely that you will not be able to - we will update this article when we know more.
  • If your Mac has an Apple processor you will definitely be able to run iOS/iPadOS apps on your Mac - they will be available to download via the App Store
Q. How do I use the new Messages "pinned conversations" feature?
A. Open messages. View the main messages window (Window menu > Messages). Select a conversation on the left and right click > choose "Pin" / "Unpin".
Q. Big Sur's Dock is described as "floating" - can I move it anywhere on screen?
A. No. As in previous versions of macOS, the Dock can only be pinned/positioned to the bottom/left/right side of the screen and either hidden/unhidden.
Q. How do I use the new Control Center?
A. Click on the new Control Center menu bar item in the top right.
Q. Big Sur appears to rely on iCloud a lot. Do I have to have an iCloud account (Apple ID) to install/use Big Sur?
A. You will need an Apple ID to use the Mac App Store to purchase Big Sur in the first place but once it is installed you may not need to use iCloud. An Apple ID can be your iTunes account if you have one.
macOS 11 Big Sur - go to Apple menu > System Preferences > iCloud. You have control over: † - This information can only be synchronise across multiple iOS devices/Mac computers if you have an iCloud account (Apple ID) - you cannot synchronise these types of data via USB/iTunes.
Q. Which Macs support the iPad Sidecar feature included with macOS 10.15 or later?
A. It would appear that the following Macs are compatible with the iPad Sidecar feature:
  • MacBook (Early 2016 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2018 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13"/15" (Mid 2016 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Late 2018 or newer)
  • iMac 21.5" (Late 2015 or newer)
  • iMac 27" (Late 2015 or newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (2019? or newer)
Q: How do I use the Sidecar feature with an iPad?
NOTE: Sidecar requires a compatible Mac running macOS 10.15 Catalina or later and a compatible iPad running iPadOS 13 or later.
  1. On your Mac, go to the AirPlay menu icon in your menu bar (the square above a triangle icon in the top right of your screen)
  2. NOTE: If you do not have an AirPlay menu icon, go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Displays > TICK "Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available"
  3. If you have an iPad that's compatible with Sidecar it will show up in the AirPlay menu list with it's name
  4. Select the iPad you want to use as a Sidecar additional display from the AirPlay menu list - the iPad should automatically switch to being an additional display
Some notes about Sidecar:
  • The iPad can be used in Sidecar mode either over Wi-Fi or via a physical USB connection - using a USB connection will power the iPad
  • Most touch gestures on the iPad will be switched off while in Sidecar mode - a few things may still work such as scrolling a window
  • The Apple Pencil can be used on the iPad but it works as a mouse alternative
  • Any keyboard connected to the iPad still works
  • A control sidebar will appear on the iPad while in Sidecar mode - this can be moved or turned on/off via the Sidecar System Preferences pane
  • A Touch Bar will appear on the iPad while in Sidecar mode (this is similar to the Touch Bar found on specific Touch Bar model MacBook Pros) - this can be moved or turned on/off via the Sidecar System Preference pane
  • While an iPad is attached in Sidecar mode you get further options/controls at Apple menu > System Preferences > Sidecar
  • You can arrange the position of the Sidecar display in the normal way via Apple menu > System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement tab
Q. Which Macs support the Apple Watch unlocking and WPA3 Wi-Fi encryption features included with macOS 10.15 or later?
A. It would appear that the following Macs are compatible with these new features:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2013 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13"/15" (Early 2013 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Late 2014 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2013 or newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
Q. Which apps support Continuity Camera included with macOS 10.14 or later?
A. According to this Apple technote the following apps do:
  • Finder
  • Keynote v8.2 or later
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • Notes
  • Numbers v5.2 or later
  • Pages v7.2 or later
  • TextEdit
Q. Is AFP (Apple File Protocol) networking still supported?
A. As a client, yes. You can access AFP servers via the Finder > Go menu > Connect to Server… A. As a serber, no. "File Sharing" via AFP is no longer supported.
Q. Does Big Sur include PHP?
A. Yes. But the inclusion of PHP with macOS is deprecated and the Big Sur version includes this statement:
    WARNING: PHP is not recommended.
    PHP is included in macOS for compatibility with legacy software.
    Future versions of macOS will not include PHP.
Q. Does Big Sur use Core Storage?
A. Yes. Disk Utility (in Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities folder) gives you access to some Core Storage features and formatting.
Q. Does Big Sur use Apple File System (APFS)?
A. Yes. See our separate Apple File System (APFS) article.
Q. Does Big Sur support "Back To My Mac"?
A. No. See this Apple support page for more information and alternative options.
Q. I've heard Big Sur includes something called System Integrity Protection (SIP). Will this stop me installing and using older software?
A. Possibly. See our separate article all about System Integrity Protection (SIP).
Q. I've heard Big Sur includes something called Gatekeeper. Will this stop me installing and using older software?
A. No. You can configure Gatekeeper in one of two different ways:
  1. Mac App Store = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store will run (highest security)
  2. Mac App Store and identified developers = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store or that have been digitally signed by an authorised developer will run (medium security - default)
Q. Does Big Sur have Rosetta? Does it run PowerPC applications/software?
A. Not to be confused with the new Rosetta version 2, just like OS X 10.7 Lion and later, Big Sur does not include the original version 1 of Rosetta.
Q. Does Big Sur include X11?
A. No. X11 on Big Sur now uses install on demand. When you first launch an app that requires X11 libraries, you are directed to a download location for the most up-to-date version of X11 for Mac e.g. XQuartz. However, if you have upgraded to Big Sur XQuartz may get moved as part of the upgrade process and stop working. If you've upgraded to Big Sur you are recommended to reinstall the software using the latest version e.g. v2.7.11 or later.
Q. Does Big Sur include Xgrid Sharing?
A. No. Just like OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and later it has been removed.
Q. Does Big Sur include Java?
A. No. Java is available to download from Oracle - see our Java article for more information and download links to obtain the latest free Java software.
Q. If I install macOS 11 Big Sur and don't like it can I easily downgrade back to 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12/10.11/10.10/10.9?
A. Unfortunately, depending on your Mac model it may not be very easy. We're working on an article about that - check back soon.

Article Keywords: macOS 11 Big Sur 1100 Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

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