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macOS 14 Sonoma Now Available

As promised, Apple opened the download floodgates for macOS 14 Sonoma on 26 September 2023, making it available from System Settings > General > Software Update.

Howard Oakley points out that, at least for those in macOS 13 Ventura, Sonoma is delivered as an update rather than a standalone Install macOS Sonoma installer. In other words, you won’t easily be able to back out if you click Upgrade Now. You will need a Mac released in 2018 or later, with the lone exception of the 2017 iMac Pro (see “The Real System Requirements for Apple’s 2023 Operating Systems,” 19 June 2023). Sonoma is a 4.5 GB download on a 2020 iMac; it’s over 7 GB on M-series Macs.

macOS 14 Sonoma release notes

Sonoma boasts numerous new features, though few are likely to be life-changing. I’ve already heard people suggesting that Sonoma may be a Snow Leopard-like release that focuses more on fixes and refinements than deep foundational changes or massive interface redesigns. This initial release also addresses numerous security vulnerabilities, including those Apple fixed last week in other operating systems (see “OS Security Updates Address Three More Exploited Vulnerabilities,” 21 September 2023).

You may appreciate Sonoma’s new desktop widgets, especially as third-party apps add support. The collection of 135 “Aerial” screen savers (some are underwater, others in space) from the Apple TV will spice up your idle time. The more emotive among us may enjoy the reaction effects you can insert into a video call with a gesture; other videoconferencing improvements like Presenter Overlay are also welcome. Safari now provides profiles for separating work and personal logins, and it lets you turn websites into standalone Web apps. Notes lets you add PDFs to notes, and it gains hypertext capabilities with internal note links.

There’s a lot more, of course, and Apple’s most complete list of improvements is a 12-page PDF that’s well worth scanning. Reviews from around the Web have also started to appear, including articles from Ars Technica, MacStories, and Six Colors that offer some context for and evaluation of the new features. I also recommend Joe Kissell’s Take Control of Sonoma.

I’ve been running the betas for some time on my M1 MacBook Air, where it has been working fine. There have been a few hiccups, but app updates have addressed them. Some of my consultant friends suggest they plan to release it to their clients sooner than usual, perhaps within 3–5 weeks if no red flags start going up with early adopters.

The only change in Sonoma that drove me to distraction is a new default option to hide all windows when you click a blank area on the desktop. For decades, I’ve had a macro in Keyboard Maestro that brings the Finder’s windows to the front whenever I switch to it, so having all my windows scurry off the screen on desktop clicks is disconcerting. Luckily, you can turn off this new feature in System Settings > Desktop & Dock, under the Desktop & Stage Manager settings. Or rather, you can restrict it to Stage Manager; that’s the equivalent of turning it off for me, though actual Stage Manager users may have a different opinion.

Turn off desktop-revealing click in Sonoma

Should you upgrade to Sonoma? If you’re asking the question, I’d say that you should wait at least 3–5 weeks to see if any unexpected problems crop up. But if you’re tech-savvy, thoroughly backed up, and aware that you could encounter problems, you’re probably already downloading, and that’s fine.

Regardless, as I’ve said many times, you get stuff done on your Mac using apps, not the operating system. If you install Sonoma, you can likely just keep working along as you were before upgrading—I certainly have.

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Comments About macOS 14 Sonoma Now Available

Notable Replies

  1. As usual at this time of year, I couldn’t resist despite intending to follow the advice and wait a few weeks, so I went ahead and installed this on one of my Macs. Happily all went smoothly with the installation and after a few hours using some of my favourite apps, all seems well! How have other people got on with upgrading - or is everyone made of sterner stuff than me? :blush:

  2. I did two macs, one an M2 MBA (7.7GB download and slow install) and the other a 2018 MBP (12GB download! And it was at Ventura 13.5, but quite a quick install). Not interested in fancy menu bars, or clicking on the wallpaper to display the desktop (I have a hot corner for that). Had to buy a new version of Bartender (worth it), but otherwise I don’t see any differences. I much prefer these releases that are just stabilizing and improving what we have over the paradigm-changing nightmares!

  3. I upgraded my M1 MacBook Air and my M2 Mac mini to Sonoma yesterday. No problems at all. I’ve got the Air running Stage Manager. I’m not sure I like it, but I’ll keep it for a while to see if I get used to it and if there are any advantages.

  4. I installed Sonoma on my macStudio and my MBP16 - it installed fast. The Studio, however, has had problems. When first booted my Dock disappeared and the Finder refused to show the files display. I found Settings and turned on “Hide the Dock” (putting the mouse pointer at the bottom of the screen revealed the Dock) and then turned off “Hide The Dock” to get the Dock (and Finder) functions. Also, the Studio display required a firmware update.

    I just discovered that I have lost the Touch ID function to unlock the macStudio after sleep - it requires a password. The Settings page to turn this on is greyed out and won’t let me change the settings (or scan in another finger. Rebooting didn’t fix that. The Studio keyboard (with Touch ID) is connected to the system via USB.

    Any suggestions?

  5. Quick update. My Studio keyboard (with Touch) is connected via USB (not BT) because it connects faster on startup. I disconnected the keyboard, it immediately connected via BT, and the touch functions were restored. Re-connecting the keyboard disables the Touch functions. This is more interface weirdness than I am used to.

  6. I’m just curious, if you have the click desktop to hide all windows set to on, how do you get all windows back assuming you don’t want to bring each and every app to the foreground one by one? Will hitting the Exposé key move the windows back into focus as if you had hid them with cmd-Exposé?

  7. Just click the desktop again and all the windows will be restored to their original position; it works well for me so far.

  8. sto

    Am I the only dinosaur who still uses the good old stickies app to pin reminders, tips etc. on my desktop? Of course they disappear with Sonoma’s stage manager-like gimmick. If you must clear the desktop you can simply press command-option while you click on it to hide all app windows.

  9. Gonna hold off till 14.1 or 14.2 stability. I need my Mac right now and no reason for Sonoma. And those of us Oldskoolers… come on man, never update to the first zero release of new OS… unless triple dog dared! :grinning:

  10. After updating my Mini, I found the Finder menu bar unusable. The menus displayed as tiny uncontrollable windows that scrolled faster than I could see the commands. Very scary. Finally went to the Apple Support forum where someone fixed it with a restart. Fixed me, too, but it seems more than slightly sloppy.

  11. how do you get all windows back assuming you don’t want to bring each and every app to the foreground one by one?

    I just logged out of Sonoma, but I believe just clicking the Desktop again brought them all back. Clicking just the window you want will get just it.

    Of course, I just spent most of the evening defeating all that stuff again… :-}

  12. sto

    Inline predictive text is another feature I can live without.

  13. Sonoma also breaks the Serviio music server. That’s two strikes, either one of which is an out. I don’t know if Serviio worked under Ventura, the Cal/Contact syncing was enough to never bother.


    Hmm…Serviio seems to be working now? Truly bizarre behavior earlier. Got me…

  14. I have a problem with Mail in Sonoma. I like to have the ‘Move to…’ option displaying in the menubar of each e-mail (which I have open as a new window rather than the divided screen as I’m using a 13" screen). I can customize the menubar and add the item to the menubar, but it is greyed out and doesn’t work. If I ctrl-click on the menubar, remove it and re-add it, it sometimes works, but not reliably. Now I have to close the mail message and use the ‘Move to…’ item in the Inbox window’s menubar to file the message. Oddly, the ‘Move’ item does work, but this requires an extra click (‘Move to…’ learns where a mail usually goes to and one click on it will file the message appropriately.)

  15. I haven’t seen that problem with the Move menu in Sonoma Mail, but I have noticed a subtle change in how it’s displayed. Previously, if Mail had a suggested Mailbox to move the message to, it would appear next to the Move icon. Now, it appears as the first suggestion on the dropdown list when you select Move. This is mainly cosmetic, but it does free up some space on the toolbar.

  16. Without going into great detail, the experience was a nightmare. Took several hours with Apple to recover my documents and get my M1 Mac to work properly. If you are smart, you will wait.

  17. My experience on my M1 Mac mini was not the same. Upgrade from Ventura 13.6 went smoothly with no data loss.

    Was Apple able to find anything that caused your upgrade to go sideways?

  18. It was an iCloud issue(s). Everything was recovered(?) Still not sure I’m 100%.

  19. Not the problem. Plenty of space. The download never executed correctly. That was obvious since Main menu bar was not available until reboot. Took a supervisor level many hours to fix the problem.

  20. Does Drobo still work with Sonoma? The demise of the company is worrisome, as I own three.

  21. I wish I had waited. This is buggiest MacOS I’ve seen in a long while. I’ve had multiple issues with autofill and Safari and with the Notes app coming up blank. The worst bug is in iMovie—I’m unable to share or export a completed project in any form or by any method.

  22. Ken

    I had been using the beta on my ARM MacBook for a while with no problems. So I installed the first release candidate on my Intel iMac, and things went very wrong, with a hang whenever I tried to open a file using the dialog. I then had a few problems reverting back, because I thought I was going to be able to use an external boot volume, but open firmware needs to allow that, and I’d already erased the hard drive. I aim wondering if it was because I have a setup where I have system on the internal SSD and an external data drive. I’ll wait to the first revision before I try again.

  23. While I like to keep up-to-date, I’m worried about what might not work if I upgrade.

    For example, my favorite mail plug-in, MsgFiller, won’t work because Apple no longer allows Mail plugins!

    So I’m taking it easy for the moment.

  24. Adam Tow posted the following in on Support page last week:

    You may find the app seems to work but in fact does strange things. For instance, you might file a message and watch it disappear only to see it reappear in your inbox seconds or minutes later. Again, I don’t recommend using MsgFiler on Sonoma long-term for filing. The workaround is to use the Help menu method until further notice. Opening mailboxes might still work properly in MsgFiler on Sonoma.

    Plug-ins are 100% gone, so no amount of Terminal commands will bring back the Manage Plug-ins button or allow MsgFiler Engine and the Original MsgFiler Mail Plug-in to work on Sonoma, sad to say.

  25. Yes, I’ve been following his discussion. I wonder why Apple did that.

    I’ve tried all sorts of alternative mail apps for my Mac, but they are all missing something: nice image markup, a “send again feature”, filing with shortcuts, moving email between accounts, being able to replly inline (I’m amazed you can’t do that in Outlook), and other things. So I keep coming back to Mail. But it’s MailMerge that makes organization possible.

    In iOS 17 Mail finally got a way to file messages even! (after touching move, touch on the top which opens up a search bar to file).


  26. …for those using encrypted mails with Apple Mail and GPG Tools: not working.

  27. It’s been a couple of weeks since Macos 14 Sonoma has been released. Would it be reasonable to upgrade soon?

  28. I’m holding off until 14.1 at least. There’s hardly anything in there I truly need/want. And Apple’s track record re: software quality lately leaves more than just a little to be desired.

  29. I upgraded from macOS Ventura to macOS Sonoma on my Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2019 iMac without a hitch. The only issue I have noticed is that when my iMac has to be rebooted, my external USB hard drive icons are all messed up on my Desktop, and I have to take a minute to rearrange them.

    But as I suspected would happen soon or later, Apple will not let me install macOS Sonoma on my Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017 iMac. It seems that macOS Ventura 13.6 is the end of the road for that machine.

  30. I’m currently running Sonoma on both my Apple Silicon computers. The update appeared to go without a hitch, but yesterday, I discovered that I could not log into iCloud on one of my computers . I was seeing the message “These settings have been configured by a profile” at the top of the window. It was strange as there were no profiles shown in my Privacy & Security settings. After having no luck going through several typical debugging solutions (restart in safe mode, reinstall the OS, etc.), I happened on a page in Apple Discussions that provided the fix:

    The System Setting>Screen Time>Content & Privacy>Preference Restrictions>Allow Account Changes switch had been turned off. Turning on that switch or simply turning off the Content & Privacy switch would fix the issue. All my other devices have the Content & Privacy switch turned off.

    So, as others have noted , Apple system updates occaisionally change your setiings.

    The only other note is that I discovered I could reduce login time substantially by disconnecting my USB backup sand storage extension drives prior to restarting and plugging them back in once the system was up. This is quite a time saver when debugging a an issue not involving apps that might need to access those drives.

  31. I’m having problems with my M2 Mac Mini. The encrypted Time Machine Volumes on SSD’s (3) won’t mount automatically at start up and sometimes disappear at Wake Up. Re-starting in Recovery mode and adding drives individually works but only temporarily.

  32. Are those drives connected through TB or USB? (Not the plug, the actual protocol used by the bridge chip) Are they plugged in directly to your Mac or through a hub/dock?

    I have already under Monterey and Ventura seen various encrypted APFS SSDs not auto-mounting properly after sleep etc. But at least IME (mainly SSDs connected via TB and USB hubs) this has gotten substantially better in later versions of Ventura.

  33. A mixture, 1 is TB, directly to the Mac Mini, the other 2 are through a USB C hub connected to a Studio Display which is TB connected to the Mac Mini. It all seemed to work fine in Ventura.

  34. I’ve installed Sonoma on two personal machines, an M1 Air and, using Open Core Legacy Patcher (OCLP), an unsupported 13" mid-2012 MacBook Pro.

    I haven’t run into any issues with the M1 Air. I can’t say that I am taking advantage of any particular Sonoma features, though I quickly turned off the annoying animated wallpaper and replaced it with a static picture.

    While I can’t recommend running anything critical on a Mac running an unsupported OS via OCLP, I think it is a reasonable way to extend the lifespan of an older Mac for things like casual web browsing if you understand the various compromises OCLP makes to shoehorn Sonoma onto unsupported machines. It’s also worth noting that some machines work much better with OCLP than others.

    In my case, a Core i5 mid-2012 13" MacBook Pro upgraded with an SSD and 16 GB of RAM works very well with OCLP. It may be my imagination, but Sonoma feels a bit snappier than Ventura did on my test machine. No one will mistake it for an Apple Silicon machine, but performance is completely acceptable for routine web browsing, and I don’t notice any lags opening and using a range of apps. I’d say Sonoma is only slightly less snappy on this hardware than the supported Catalina OS was.

    My only quibble is that trackpad behavior seems a little off, where I sometimes have to click twice to select something, and sometimes I notice a lag between double-clicking on something and having it open. In contrast, none of these issues show up when I use a physical mouse instead of the trackpad. I suspect that Sonoma assumes a haptic trackpad, and some of the settings don’t quite work correctly with older devices.

    Nonetheless, I doff my cap to the OCLP developers. They’ve done a very impressive job keeping older Mac hardware useful.

    PS. I would not attempt to run Sonoma on an unsupported Mac without an SSD.

  35. I still haven’t upgraded my 2021 MBP 14-inch M1. The main reason is worry about what won’t work. I already know MsgFiler won’t work and I really would like to use it or something like that to make filing easy (and I’ve tried Outlook and some other email apps).

    Anyway, my question is, is there anything really great that I’m missing in Sonoma? Reading the article, nothing really stood out as breathtaking.


  36. So Sonoma’s been out for around a month and I’m assuming the dust has settled a little. I’m wondering how people are finding it and if they’re experiencing any issues, particularly around iCloud.
    Have Apple released any dot updates since release?

    There’s a couple of minor things I’d like to get from Sonoma but don’t want to compromise a stable system.

  37. 14.1 is due out any day now with some fixes. The French government announced it would be out yesterday, but it didn’t happen.

  38. In Sonoma, the setting for selecting your default web browser is in the Widgets section of the Desktop and Dock settings. Does that make any sense?

    Also, even though the panel is called Desktop and Dock settings, the Dock settings are listed first.

  39. Bit the bullet and updated to Sonoma today. Not without issues but nothing too major:

    Wallpaper over-ridden - no idea why but my custom wallpaper was replaced
    Find any File hung - updated to new version and it now works but is very slow to stop mid-search.
    All Desktop and Document folders (iCloud) showing they need to be re-downloaded/re-synced. This took a while.
    Mail search not working despite working fine in browser interface. Booted into safe mode, then back into normal boot and normal operation resumed.
    Could not log into Threads - kept rejecting credentials - even directly from logged in Instagram account. The safe reboot fixed this also.

    That’s all I’ve noticed for now. I thought I’d like the click on the desktop thing but it’s a little weird the way things disappear unexpectedly.

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