Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

From High Sierra down to Mojave

For a few years now, it’s seemed that any forward movement macOS might make was coming in lockstep with Apple’s other platforms, most notably iOS. What was new to the Mac was generally something that was also new to iOS, or was previously available on iOS.

With macOS Mojave, the story is different. Mojave feels like a macOS update that’s truly about the Mac, extending features that are at the core of the Mac’s identity. At the same time, macOS Mojave represents the end of a long era (of stability or, less charitably, stagnation) and the beginning of a period that could completely redefine what it means to use a Mac.

Is macOS Mojave the latest chapter of an ongoing story, the beginning of a new one, or the end of an old one? It feels very much like the answer is yes and yes and yes.

I’m more excited about macOS Mojave than any recent macOS beta. The new dark mode alone is a huge change in what we have come to think of as the Mac interface, and the changes to the Finder have an awful lot of potential. I’m also really happy to be able to control my HomeKit devices directly from my Mac, either via the Home app or Siri.

My favorite feature, as silly as this might sound, is the increased visibility for user-automation features that are a part of Automator. You’ve been able to execute Automator actions in various apps for ages now, but in Mojave they’re visible in the Preview pane, which has been upgraded with more metadata as a part of the addition of the new Gallery view. And if you’ve got a MacBook Pro, you can set these actions—now called Quick Action Workflows—to appear in the Touch Bar. You can even assign them a custom icon to differentiate different actions from one another.

I wrote a bit about how I use these things a while ago on Six Colors. Mostly, I use them to bundle scripts (some AppleScript, some unix-style shell scripts) into individual commands so that I can turn a complex task that might require opening several apps or typing commands in a Terminal window into a single menu item in the Finder (or a keyboard shortcut). I can’t tell you how much time I’ve saved. I am really happy that Apple has chosen to give them greater visibility in Mojave.

We’re about to enter a major era of change for macOS. Mojave is the last hurrah for some technologies—most notably 32-bit apps and the venerable QuickTime framework—but it’s also our first glimpse (in the four new Mac apps based on iOS technologies—News, Voice Recorder, Stocks, and Home) of what is to come. Starting next year, the Mac will be full of apps that originated on iOS. That’s going to be a huge change, I’d like to think for the better.

Even if you don’t install the public beta now, I expect it to be a compelling update when it arrives in final form this fall. And it certainly points the way toward the future more than any macOS update in the past few years. Stay tuned to Six Colors soon for a full preview of the macOS Mojave beta. I’ve been working on it all this week and it’s almost ready to go!

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