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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

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Trying out macOS 11 (Big Sur)

So WWDC 2020 was this past Monday. I didn’t watch the keynote but I downloaded macOS 11.0 soon after that from Beta Profiles. Not sure what I was thinking really, it’s a bit of a silly move downloading a beta version of macOS, especially considering even “stable” versions like 10.5 have been flaky. Anyhoo, too late to think about it now … the only solace is that at least I didn’t install it on my primary Mac, so assuming it doesn’t cause any data corruption like delete my iCloud files or emails I am good. Worst case I will just re-install the older version. 

First impression – the new look took a minute to get used to, but once I did I started liking it. It feels a bit too bright to me, but that’s probably just my eyes. 

I couldn’t try the new colourful wallpaper as it would keep going to the Catalina wallpaper whenever I’d select that. I was able to use the Big Sur mountain wallpaper though – that works. 

Funny this, just earlier that day I was reading a blog post about monitors (yay for the author – good post!) and had turned off font smoothing in the OS. Interestingly, after upgrading the option is no longer available. Has Apple turned off font smoothing for good in macOS 11? That’s good if they have. 

I love the newish Music and Podcasts app. They are new in the sense that they are newer than the version in 10.5. I prefer the new look and I enjoy using these apps now. I also like the new look of the Dock, how it has rounded corners and is slightly lifted from the base (bottom or sides of the screen – wherever it is placed). For some reason with macOS 11 I have moved the Dock to the left side as I find it better there. Somehow the change in look has made me feel like putting it there (when I had put it there with earlier versions of macOS I didn’t like it). 

The upgrade broke a few apps as expected:

  • Bartender is unable to control the menubar items any more.
  • Karabiner Elements is broken (you can follow this issues page for a discussion). I simply turned off Karabiner and stopped using the Microsoft Sculpt keyboard for now (that’s the reason I was using Karabiner Elements) and went back to the Magic Keyboard.
  • Toothfairy works as usual – good!
  • No issues with Alfred 4 either.
  • Contexts works but the theming is broken. Not a big deal.
  • Homebrew broke. Thankfully the fix is simple – download the latest Xcode and CLI tools from Apple. Thanks to the people at this issues page for pointing me in the right direction. 
  • That’s it for now! This is not my primary Mac so I don’t have too many apps there. The only other apps I have are stuff like LastPass, Bitwarden, BBEdit, TextMate, iTerm2 … and all these work fine. 
  • Oh, forgot! Safari Developer Edition doesn’t even launch. Expected I guess. (Update – 26th June – now fixed in an update)
  • The Music app still has this bug wherein when I am listening to a song and I add it to my library it stops playing the song. I’ve had it since macOS 10.15, I just put up with it.

Checkout this WWDC 2020 music playlist from Apple while you are at it. Good stuff!

Trying out macOS 11 (Big Sur) by rakhesh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.