Mac Overview Updated December 28, 2021

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February 2010 - January 2022

History

The Mac is Apple’s lineup of computers, and it can be considered the company’s oldest product. The name “Mac” comes from the original Macintosh, which was introduced in 1984 and is also considered the first personal computer for the masses to have a graphical user interface. The first Macintosh hit the stores on January 24, 1984, costing $2,945.

Among all these years, Apple has introduced many different Mac models, ranging from desktops to laptops to professional tower machines. The current lineup consists of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMac, and Mac Pro. However, there have been other Mac models were discontinued, such as the eMac, MacBook, and iMac Pro.

The history of modern Macs began in 1998, a year after Steve Jobs returned to Apple. Apple had dozens of Macintosh computers at that time, but Steve decided to rethink the entire lineup. In 1998, Apple announced the iMac G3, which ditched the floppy disk and serial ports in favor of USB connectors.

Macintosh and iMac G3.

Unlike the Macintosh, the first iMac was considered a huge success — not only for its technology, but also for its unique design with colorful translucent plastic. Apple quickly expanded the Mac lineup with other models, which included the iBook and PowerBook (which became the MacBook and MacBook Pro) and the PowerMac, which is now the Mac Pro.

macOS

What makes a Mac the Mac is the macOS operating system, which has also had a long history since the introduction of the first Macintosh. Initially called Mac OS, the operating system was rebuilt when Steve Jobs returned to Apple.

The first version of Mac OS X was released on March 24, 2001 with a new interface that is still present in some ways in current versions of macOS. Apple’s desktop operating system comes with many free applications such as Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, and GarageBand.

With macOS, users also have access to deep integrations with other Apple devices. For instance, you can answer calls and send SMS from your iPhone using your Mac. Handoff lets you switch from one device to the other and pick up where you left off. Apple Watch users can unlock their computer without entering a password, and you can even copy and paste between devices.

How to install macOS Monterey beta walkthrough

Apple’s desktop operating system is also integrated with services offered by the company, such as iCloud, Apple Music, and Apple TV+.

The current version of macOS is macOS Monterey (version 12), which features Focus mode for notifications, Portrait mode in FaceTime, Live Text, iCloud+, SharePlay, redesigned Safari, and more. Other new features include the Shortcuts app for the first time on macOS, AirPlay to Mac, on-device dictation, and Spatial Audio for AirPods users.

Architecture Transitions

The Mac has had three major architecture transitions in its history. Apple’s first computers ran on Motorola processors, but the company decided to migrate to the new PowerPC platform in 1994. While this brought benefits at the time, the PowerPC processors were not delivering what Apple expected.

It was in 2005 that Apple confirmed the transition from PowerPC to Intel. Intel processors had become faster and more efficient than PowerPC, which enabled the development of new Mac computers that were more powerful and also more compact. Developers have been given access to a Developer Transition Kit running Mac OS X Tiger with Intel Pentium 4 to update their apps before the transition begins.

Power PC, Mac OS X, and Intel processor.

Apple said that the transition would begin in June 2006 and be finished by the end of 2007. However, the transition to Intel was fully completed in August 2006 when the company replaced the PowerMac with the new Intel Mac Pro.

As the years went by, Apple once again felt the need to have more powerful and efficient processors for its computers. This time, the company was already working on its own chips for the iPhone and iPad. In June 2020, Apple confirmed that it was changing the architecture of the Mac, now from Intel to ARM chips, which are called Apple Silicon.

Apple offered a Mac mini DTK running on the same A12Z Bionic chip as the 2020 iPad Pro. This way developers could once again update their apps ahead of the transition. In addition to being more powerful and energy efficient, the ARM architecture of Apple Silicon chips has enabled Macs to run iOS apps for the first time.

The first Apple Silicon Macs were released in November 2020 with the M1 chip, and Apple says the transition should be completed by 2022.

In October 2021, Apple introduced the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which deliver even more performance than M1. The new M1 Pro chip features a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, and can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM. The M1 Max chip has a 32-core GPU and can be configured with up to 64GB RAM.

Current Mac lineup

Apple currently sells a variety of Mac computers, which includes MacBooks, Mac mini, iMac, and Mac Pro. While some of the Macs have already been updated with an Apple Silicon chip, others remain with Intel processors.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is Apple’s most affordable laptop and it has become popular for its light, compact design. It’s powered by the M1 chip and is offered with 8GB or 16GB of RAM, plus it has a 13-inch Retina display and Touch ID.

Unlike the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air has a Magic Keyboard with function keys and no Touch Bar. The laptop has only two Thunderbolt 3 compatible USB-C ports and a headphone jack. Prices start at $999 in the US. It’s offered in silver, space gray, and gold.

M1 MacBook Air.

Apple introduced the latest generation of the MacBook Air in November 2020 and there are no rumors of a significant upgrade coming in 2021. It’s worth mentioning that the laptop has no fans due to the high efficiency of the M1 chip, which also delivers incredible performance when compared to the previous MacBook Air with Intel processor.

MacBook Pro

There are currently three different versions of the MacBook Pro, which are the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is only available with 8GB or 16GB RAM. It still features the Touch Bar and has only two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, in addition to the headphone jack. The Retina LCD display supports wide color gamut (DCI-P3) and up to 500 nits brightness. Available in silver and space gray, prices start at $1299.

M1 MacBook Pro.

There’s also the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with the new M1 Pro chip. Both models feature new edge-to-edge Mini-LED display that also supports ProMotion for refresh rate up to 120Hz. The Touch Bar has been replaced by the classic function keys on these models.

The new 2021 MacBook Pro features an all-new design that is thicker, but comes with more ports. There are three USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, HDMI port, SD card slot, MagSafe, and the headphone jack. Customers can upgrade both models with the M1 Max chip for more powerful graphics.

Interestingly, these are the first Macs to have a notch on the screen, although they don’t have a TrueDepth camera with Face ID. Still, the new sensor records video in 1080p.

Prices start at $1999 for the 14-inch version and $2499 for the 16-inch version, and they come in silver and space gray.

Mac mini

Mac mini is the cheapest Mac currently available since it’s basically a desktop without a built-in display or other peripherals. The current generation was introduced in November last year with the M1 chip and a starting price of $699 in the US.

It features one Ethernet port, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI 2.0, two USB-A ports, and a headphone jack. Thanks to the HDMI 2.0 port, Mac mini is the only M1 Mac that supports multiple external displays. It’s also the only M1 Mac with regular USB-A ports.

M1 Mac mini.

The M1 version is offered with 8GB or 16GB RAM, but Apple still offers an Intel version that can be configured with up to 64GB RAM. The M1 Mac mini is only available in silver, while the Intel model is only available in space gray. Apple is expected to update Mac mini with a new Apple Silicon chip and a refreshed design in 2022.

iMac

iMac is Apple’s most popular desktop computer with an all-in-one construction. It features a 4.5K display in its 24-inch version and a 5K display in the 27-inch version. At the same time, Apple still sells an entry-level iMac with a regular 1080p display.

The 24-inch iMac is the first to feature the M1 chip, the same as in the Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. This allowed Apple to introduce a completely redesigned model with a slimmer design, which is also offered in seven new colors. Customers can customize the new 24-inch iMac with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage.

The company still sells the 27-inch iMac with with 10th generation Intel processors. At the same time, there’s still an entry-level version of the iMac with a 21.5-inch 1080p display.

Apple ships the iMac with Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard, plus a Lightning cable for recharging accessories. Prices in the US start at $1099 for the 21.5-inch 1080p model and $1299 for the redesigned 24-inch model with M1. The 27-inch iMac 5K starts at $1799.

Mac Pro

Mac Pro is a computer built for professional users who depend on extremely powerful hardware. Available in tower and rack versions, it has a completely modular design. That means users can replace RAM, SSD, GPU, and other internal components.

By default, it features four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, and two 10Gb Ethernet ports. However, the ports can be expanded using the PCI Express slots. Apple also ships the computer with a Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard, but it does not come with an external monitor included.

All models feature Intel Xeon W processors, which are the most powerful processors offered by Intel. Consumers can configure Mac Pro with up to 28-core processor, 1.5TB RAM, and 8TB of SSD storage. In addition to supporting multiple dedicated GPUs, Apple also offers the Afterburner card — which accelerates the decoding of ProRes videos.

The company recently updated the Mac Pro with new graphics card modules, which include Radeon Pro W6800X and Radeon Pro W6900X.

2019 Mac Pro.

Mac Pro prices start at $5999 in the US. Rumors suggest that Apple will introduce a smaller Mac Pro with Apple Silicon chip in 2022, while the Intel version will remain available for longer.

Rumors about upcoming Macs

Top stories about the Mac

Mac Stories Yesterday

Security researchers have released details of DazzleSpy – Mac malware that enabled key-logging, screen captures, microphone access, and more.

DazzleSpy was used to target Hong Kong democracy activists, initially through a fake pro-democracy website, and later through a real one, in a so-called watering hole attack …

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Mac Stories January 26

Apple plans to replace its 27-inch iMac with a new model featuring its own silicon. As rumors point out that the company will likely unveil this new generation in 2022, here’s everything we know so far about the product.

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Apple released a new Black Unity Braided Solo Loop and slick Unity Lights face for Apple Watch today. Along with that, it has also launched the Unity Lights wallpaper for iPhone, iPad, and Mac in celebration of Black History Month. Download them for free below.

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Apple paid a bug bounty of $100K after a cyber security student who successfully hijacked the iPhone camera back in 2019 did the same with the Mac camera.

Ryan Pickren used an imaginative approach that allowed him to run arbitrary code on a target Mac, and received what he believes to be the largest bug bounty Apple has ever paid …

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Mac: How to clear the cache, history, and cookies in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox

Looking to tidy up the browser on your Mac or fix some issues you’re seeing with websites? Read on for how to clear the Mac cache, history, and cookies in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

Mac Stories January 19

9to5Mac is brought to you by MacStadium. Migrate to M1 easier with Orka and MacStadium. Orchestrate macOS VMs with Kubernetes in a mixed cluster of M1 and Intel Macs. Watch the tech preview and sign up to be a beta participant.

Along with the shinier features that launched with macOS Monterey are several subtle ones to help keep your Mac secure and private. Let’s look at how to customize and use Mac privacy features in the latest version of macOS.

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Mac Stories January 18

In this first episode of Back to the Mac for 2022, I explore my latest Mac desktop workspace setup. Although some things remain the same, I’ve made some significant changes to increase the versatility of my workspace.

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Mac Stories January 14

Mac gamers are likely familiar with Humble, the gaming service that bundles games you’ve actually heard of for one great price. Starting next month, however, Humble will be parting ways with the Mac.

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Mac Stories January 12

Whether you’re an independent creative professional or an IT admin for a business or organization, fast and secure data is always a top priority. Without compromise, the all-new iodyne Pro Data stands out as the fastest RAID storage for M1 Macs with amazing 5 GB/s speeds, eight Thunderbolt ports, daisy-chain expandability, enterprise-grade encryption, and more.

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A new report shows that 2021 Mac shipments grew almost twice as fast as the PC market as a whole. Annual growth for Mac was 28.3%, against 14.6% for the global PC market.

The impressive result was of course strongly driven by sales of the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models, which went on sale in October …

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Mac Stories January 10

The laptop component shortage is beginning to ease, according to a new report today, but high demand sees 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro shipping times currently sitting at around three to four weeks.

M1 Macs – both MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro – are available in one to three days …

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Mac Stories January 3

Samsung has announced three new displays that it will launch this year with one of the most interesting models for Mac users being the 32-inch Smart Monitor M8 with USB-C connectivity, and handy features like AirPlay built-in.

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2021 marked the first full year of Apple Silicon, and it was a highly successful year at that thanks to the new M1 iMac and all-new MacBook Pro lineup. To celebrate the success of the M1 chip so far, Apple gifted its engineers with a special M1 chip T-shirt…

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Mac Stories January 2

When Apple began the transition away from using Intel chips in the Mac in favor of Apple Silicon, it promised that the transition would take two years to complete. Now, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that he expects the Apple Silicon transition to be completed by WWDC 2022 in June.

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Mac Stories December 28, 2021

If there’s anyone who should know about how to get the most accurate Mac speech recognition, it’s someone who’s an ex-BBC producer and also quadriplegic – so he’s heavily reliant on dictation.

Colin Hughes, who has previously shared his thoughts on Apple’s accessibility features, says that using the right microphone can transform the experience of dictating on a Mac or PC. He’s been helping one manufacturer get it right and says that the result is the best mic he’s ever found for speech recognition.

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Mac Stories December 22, 2021

After Apple’s October “Unleashed” event, the company added even more M1 Macs to its lineup as it continues its two-year transition to Apple Silicon. Despite this expansion, there are a few Macs that still run Intel chips being sold by the company. Here they are.

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Mac Stories December 21, 2021

DuckDuckGo is best known for being a privacy-friendly alternative to Google in the search industry. The company is now, however, looking to expand beyond the search industry with a new privacy-focused desktop browser. Head below for the full details.

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Mac Stories December 19, 2021

A wave of rumors recently has indicated that Apple is ramping up its efforts to launch a new external display at lower price than the Pro Display XDR. Now, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman writes that he “strongly believes” Apple will “launch a new external monitor for its latest Macs.”

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Mac Stories December 13, 2021

Apple has officially released its next major update for macOS Monterey. Version 12.1 comes with a number of new features and changes including SharePlay going live, updates for Photos and Messages, along with fixes for six major Mac bugs.

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Mac Stories December 9, 2021

Taking a screenshot on the iPhone, iPad, and even Apple Watch is pretty simple. Press two buttons at the same time and the screenshot is captured and saved in the Photos app. It’s a rather different story on the Mac…

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Mac Stories December 7, 2021

As we’ve detailed several times recently, Apple’s lineup of Apple Silicon-powered Macs is seeing fast-paced adoption among enterprise users. Now, the folks at Jamf are out with a closer look at Apple Silicon in the enterprise…

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Mac Stories December 2, 2021

How to do special characters and letter accents on Mac

Want to learn the quickest way to type special characters on macOS? Read along for how to do letter accents on Mac and more.

Mac Stories December 1, 2021

Luna Display is out today with a sharp update to make it more seamless than ever to use Mac and iPad as secondary displays. Along with the new PC to Mac Mode, Luna now works with up to 5K resolutions, features iPad Magic Keyboard support, and more.

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Tips and tricks to fix Bluetooth connection issues on Mac

We rely on Bluetooth for more and more devices, and while the wireless standard is very convenient, it can be really frustrating when our peripherals don’t work consistently. Read along for five tips and tricks to fix Mac Bluetooth issues, including resetting your Bluetooth module and ways to remove interference.

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