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Millions of Apple users update their Macs in the fall for various improvements. But updates also come with some frustrating risks, such as data loss. There is also a question for Apple users: Should I upgrade to the latest version?

Today, we'll dive deeper into Apple's latest macOS version, Sonoma. We'll discuss its features and improvements, compare Sonoma vs. Ventura, and help you decide whether the update is worthwhile.

In this article

What Is MacOS Sonoma?

macos sonoma

Apple has an interesting habit when naming their macOS versions, with the last two decades seeing operating system iterations named after animals, national parks, islands, and regions. Historic cities in California are the latest addition to the lineup, and macOS Sonoma is named after a renowned wine region.

It's the latest released update to macOS and is also known as macOS 14. The update was released on September 26, 2023, and now millions of users are updating their iMacs, Mac Pros, Mac Minis, and MacBooks to the latest OS.

Sonoma vs. Ventura – General Performance

Although you'd expect significant performance gains from Apple's latest macOS version, the truth is that these operating systems run pretty similarly. Sure, macOS Sonoma was created to be faster and more power efficient than Ventura, but the performance gains are a bit underwhelming.

Besides the upgraded features, there is an unprecedented feature of macOS Sonoma: Game Mode. It instructs the CPU and GPU in Mac Silicone chips to prioritize games while restricting background tasks. It also reduces wireless accessory latency, creating a more responsive gaming experience.

MacOS Sonoma vs. Ventura – Compatibility Differences

Compatible with SonomaCompatible with
Ventura and Sonoma
Compatible with
Ventura but not Sonoma
iMac 2019 and lateriMac 2017 and lateriMac 2017
Mac Pro 2019 and lateriMac ProMacBook Pro 2017
iMac Pro 2017Mac Pro 2019 and laterMacBook 2017
Mac Studio 2022 and laterMac mini 2018 and later
MacBook Air 2018 and laterMac Studio
Mac mini 2018 and laterMacBook Air 2018 and later
MacBook Pro 2018 and laterMacBook Pro 2017 and later
MacBook 2017 and later

Apple has frequent OS updates, and most versions are supported for at least three years.

Regarding macOS Sonoma, you should have no problems with any Mac newer than 2017. Namely, the latest OS version is compatible with iMac Pro from 2017 and newer, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro from 2018 and up, iMac and Mac Pro from 2019 and later, and Mac Studio from 2022 onwards.

On the other hand, macOS Ventura also supports Macs from 2017 and newer, but it might keep a few more devices supported than macOS Sonoma, such as iMac 2017, MacBook Pro 2017, and MacBook 2017. You can find a complete list of Ventura-compatible Macs.

Sonoma vs. Ventura – Screensavers

macos sonoma vs ventura screensavers

New and improved screensavers are one of the main features that Apple has introduced with its latest OS version. Sonoma's beautiful slow-motion screensavers first appear when you turn on your Mac. Then, as you log in, these stunning screensavers seamlessly become your desktop wallpaper.

Unfortunately, macOS Ventura doesn't have this feature. However, being aesthetically pleasing and undoubtedly enjoyable, Ventura doesn't lose much in this area, so this feature alone is certainly not worth the upgrade.

Sonoma vs. Ventura – Widgets

macos sonoma vs ventura widgets

Widgets are another area that received significant improvements with macOS Sonoma. The newly-released macOS version lets you place widgets on the desktop, allowing you to control Mac's various features straight from the widget. Continuity also enables you to add iPhone and iPad widgets to your Mac.

Before Sonoma, in macOS Ventura, widgets were only a part of the Notification Center. The previous OS version would let you add and customize them, but nothing more than that.

If you're worried about widgets stealing your attention while you work, they've been intelligently made to fade out when you open a new application.

Mac Sonoma vs. Ventura – New Video Conferencing Features

video conferencing inside macos sonoma

Video conferencing is another area that has gotten far more interesting with macOS Sonoma. While the feature was already present in Ventura, Sonoma brings a few fresh features that make your video calls appear more professional and organized.

You can now put yourself in front of your shared screen and appear as a skilled convention speaker, as the Presenter Overlay feature keeps you in the spotlight. Alternatively, you can add yourself as a small bubble over your shared screen so you know how you look while giving a presentation.

Continuity Camera, the feature first introduced with macOS Ventura that lets you use your iPhone's advanced camera system for video-conferencing, has also received a significant update. These updates allow you to zoom in, switch between iPhone's cameras, and recenter yourself. So if you are interested in professional video conferencing, you can really give Sonoma a chance.

Sonoma vs. Ventura – Web Apps and Safari

Apple undoubtedly knows how much time we spend on the internet, which is why web browsing has experienced significant improvements with macOS Sonoma. Safari, in particular, has become better in almost every way.

For example, Mac's default web browser lets users create multiple profiles to separate their browsing, including history, cookies, favorite websites, extensions, etc. The improvements also affect Safari searches, making them faster, and Private Browsing, where safety and tracker-blocking are priorities.

All websites can now also be added to your Mac's Dock, which makes them act like regular desktop apps and creates desktop-like notifications for them. This feature doesn't exist in macOS Ventura and makes upgrading to Sonoma worth considering.

Sonoma vs. Ventura – Security Features

macos sonoma security features

Due to macOS' nature of being a closed-source operating system, the security aspect of each OS iteration was already top-notch. Ventura users won't have any issues when it comes to OS security since there aren't any holes bad actors can get through, and active security patches make sure of that.

However, macOS Sonoma still manages to create a few improvements, which come through Communication Safety and Lockdown Mode.

On the one hand, Communication Safety brings content warning and protection inside Messages and third-party apps. The OS automatically blurs sensitive photos and videos and warns you about viewing them. On the other hand, Lockdown Mode now increases protection from cyber attacks, making your Mac safer than ever.

Sonoma vs. Ventura – Accessibility Differences

While Apple's ecosystem already has many features that make the lives of people with disabilities much more manageable, the latest updates in macOS Sonoma make things even better.

Accessibility features that came with the latest OS iteration now make it easier to adjust the size of the displayed text and let users pause animated web images. However, the most significant update revolves around Personal Voice, where users can create a personalized voice and use it with FaceTime.

For someone with speech loss, the Personal Voice feature can make all the difference, making daily communication far more accessible. Thus, Sonoma is undoubtedly worth upgrading to for people with such disabilities.

⭐Final Verdict: Should I Upgrade to Sonoma?

Although it might seem that Sonoma is the way to go since you should always keep your computer up-to-date, the answer to whether you should upgrade to Sonoma depends on who you are as a Mac user.

Sure, if you're after a new look and feel, more customization options, and want to have the latest and greatest, you should, by all means, go for it. However, there are a few downsides to macOS Sonoma, and you can find advantages and disadvantages in the table below.

ProsCons
Better overall system performance and Game Mode that prioritizes CPU and GPU's powerNew Game Mode only supports full-screen games
There's now a modern lock screen with new and better screensaversThere's higher battery consumption with the new screensavers
Customizable widgets can be placed on the desktop and are more functional than everDesktop widgets might be distracting and can negatively affect battery life
Intelligent call tools bring significant improvements to video conferencingThe newly-introduced video calling reactions don't always work
Safari now supports multiple user profilesWeb browser extensions and customization options are still lacking
Messages and third-party apps get content warningsThe Communication Safety feature feels intrusive
The Personal Voice feature makes life easier for people with disabilitiesOther accessibility features haven't been updated
icon note
Note: If you still can't make a decision between these two operating systems, you can simultaneously have macOS Ventura and Sonoma on a single machine by dual-booting your Macbook.

There's another issue of updating to macOS Sonoma that wasn't mentioned in the table above. We're, of course, talking about potential data loss. Namely, regardless of macOS Sonoma's compatibility with your relatively new Mac, you could still suffer from data loss when you face interruption caused by power failure or system crash during installation. However, there is no need to worry as you are equipped with a reliable data recovery tool: Wondershare Recoverit.

Wondershare Recoverit
  • Manages over 500 data loss situations, such as deletion, formatting, and disk corruption.
  • The user-friendly interface allows you to recover data in just a few clicks.
recoverit boxrecoverit logo

The app's beginner-friendly user interface, advanced scanning and searching algorithm, and the ability to retrieve data in just a few steps and minutes make it a perfect option when dealing with data loss.

We've also included a guide on using Recoverit to retrieve your data after a problematic OS update in case you've gone ahead, upgraded to macOS Sonoma, and experienced data loss. Here's what you'll need to do:

  1. Launch Wondershare Recoverit on your Mac, select Hard Drives and Locations to the left, and choose your OS disk drive.
    wondershare recoverit interface
  2. Recoverit will automatically initiate an all-around scan and search for lost data.
    automatically scan for lost data
  3. The data recovery tool lets you pinpoint files by adjusting filters when dealing with vast amounts of files.
    adjust filters
  4. You can also add filters to speed up the scan.
    add keywords
  5. Once it finds files, Recoverit lets users preview them and confirm it's the correct file.
    preview found files
  6. When ready, you can save the recovered data to a safe location on your Mac by clicking Save.
    save recovered data

Recoverit is highly effective for Windows PCs and Macs, laptops, internal disk drives, external storage devices, USBs, crashed computers, and more. The data recovery app supports over 2,000 different devices and over 1,000 file types, so you can effortlessly use it in more than 500 other situations.

Conclusion

For most users, updating to Apple's latest OS version, macOS Sonoma, is a no-brainer. The addition of seamless slow-motion screensavers, improvements to widgets and video-conferencing tools, and updates to Safari and security measures make the winner of the Sonoma vs. Ventura battle obvious.

However, a major OS update like macOS Ventura to Sonoma has downsides like incompatibility with older Mac machines. It can also be dangerous, as there's always a risk of potential data loss during these operating system upgrades.

If you've set your eyes on Sonoma and are considering the upgrade, there's nothing we can do but prepare you in case of data loss. We've included a reliable data recovery app, Wondershare Recoverit, which makes navigating such situations a piece of cake, as it can quickly and efficiently recover data you've lost during the upgrade.

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Alex Nappi
Alex Nappi Jan 24, 24
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