Mac OS Big Sur: Is It Too Big to Upgrade?

Mac OS X Big Sur

(Update 2/1/2021 – Apple released their Big Sur 11.2 update, and we now give this a thumbs-up, after you have read the entire article below.)

Apple this week finally released their latest operating system for the Mac, Mac OS Big Sur.

We’ll start with the hardest decision—when should you upgrade to macOS 11 Big Sur? Last year, macOS 10.15 Catalina shipped with quite a few problems. We recommended holding off on the upgrade for most people for at least several months. For many of our clients, we’ve recommended staying on 10.14 Mojave for the time being. It’s too early to have a sense of how stable Big Sur will be. But we hope that Apple will have learned its lesson with Catalina and will have shipped a more stable release. 

Note that Big Sur requires a Mac released in 2013 or later; some 2012 models that were compatible with Catalina won’t be able to make the trip to Big Sur.

Apple has put a lot of design effort into the user interface of Big Sur. Windows, menus, dialogs, sidebars, and even icons have all received design updates. You may or may not like the new look more than the old, but again, it’s not a big reason to upgrade quickly for most people.

On the plus side, Apple has worked on smaller features that might improve your everyday user experience. It features a new Control Center, similar to what you’re accustomed to on the iPhone and iPad. It also provides quick access to controls from System Preferences in a single place. Notifications are now grouped by thread or app, and interactive notifications let you do more without opening the associated app.

There’s an App for That…

Safari receives a new start page, shows more tabs at once, displays a preview of a site when you hover over a tab, translates pages into seven languages, provides more privacy details, and checks if your passwords have been involved in a data breach. Messages lets you pin important conversations, thread messages in group conversations, and direct messages to individuals in a group conversation with an @name. Apps such as Photos, Reminders, and Notes also get enhancements, and your AirPods will switch between your devices more seamlessly.

So our advice is to stick with your current version of macOS for now, while Apple, Mac developers, and the Mac community figure out how to sand down the rough edges in everyday Big Sur use.

We recommend waiting until at least version 11.2 before upgrading. That allows time for Apple to resolve any unanticipated problems. However, if you are determined to install Apple’s latest “new and shiny,” make sure you have a solid backup of all your data first. RoaringApps has a full listing of which apps are compatible with Big Sur and which are not. Also note that the installer download is over 12Gb huge, and you will need plenty of hard drive space for the install to complete.

Just like it is in Catalina, 32-bit apps such as Microsoft Office 2011 will not work in Big Sur. You will need a functional alternative to open your Office documents. Fortunately, we have an article about that.

Apple has their own page that will tell you everything they want you to know about it.

Want Some Help With That?

Contact Us if you would like some help with making your transition to Big Sur as smooth and as safe as possible. We will get it done!

Can I Do Dictation on My Mac? Yes!

Most everyone is familiar with how to do dictation on an iPhone by activating the microphone within the keyboard and/or using Siri. This has your phone interpret your speech and turn that into text, as if typing on the keyboard. But did you know you can do the same thing with your Mac? It’s true! Apple has continued to improve upon this service over the years. Any Mac with OS X from Mojave 10.14 and beyond, has the ability to do dictation with high accuracy.

Whether you are composing an email, sending a message through iMessage, or writing a long Word document, your Mac can take dictation for you – no typing required.

Set up your Mac to Listen

  1. Under the Apple menu, open System Preferences.
  2. Select “Keyboard” and when that opens, click on the “Dictation” tab on the right.
  3. For the “Dictation” radio button, turn that to “On.”
  4. On the left, select “Internal Microphone” or other preferred mic. You will see the microphone animation responding to the ambient sound.

To get started, open your email, Word document, or iMessage window and place your cursor where you want to begin. Press the Function or “fn” key in the lower left-hand corner of your keyboard twice in a row. A small window with a microphone will appear and will indicate that your Mac is now listening and waiting to dictate your speaking.

Similar to Siri or dictation on the iPhone, you will need to speak your punctuation as well, such as saying “period” or “question mark” at the end of a sentence. Fortunately, Apple put together a handy list of Commands for Dictating Text on Mac.

When you are finished, either press the Done button text just below the microphone icon, or press the function or “fn” key once to have your Mac stop listening.

The quieter your surrounding environment can be, the more accurate your Mac’s dictation will be.

Can you help me?

Yes, that’s what we’re here for! Contact Us and we can get you set up!

How to Clear Your Mac’s Browser Cache

Fast Browsers

Your browser cache is responsible for storing the data of previously viewed websites. While the purpose behind the cache is for quicker loading times of the sites you visit, it can work against you over time.

Clearing your cache might not be completely necessary, nor need to be done often. However, clearing your browser’s cache can prove helpful for several reasons. Mostly, purging the stored data in your cache automatically forces your browser to seek and retrieve the most recent webpage elements instead of recycling the same old components, whether they’re up-to-date with the developer’s standards or not.

Why should I clear my cache?

Not only can it slow down your browser, but it makes your private info more vulnerable to breaches. Furthermore, resetting your cache will potentially help in the event of 404, 502, and other errors that may possibly result from a corrupt cache, and clear any private data you have stored in the form of login IDs, passwords, and additional sensitive information you’d rather not save on your machine. It’s also a simple trick you can employ to shed any unnecessary data, which could slow down your browser.

Clearing the Cache in Safari

Step 1: Open settings — Launch Safari, click Safari in the upper-left corner of the main menu bar, and select the Preferences option near the top of the drop-down menu. Then click the Advanced tab located in the top navigation bar and check the box directly on the bottom that says Show Develop menu in menu bar. This will add a new menu to Safari by default.

Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Click the Develop menu near the middle of the main Safari menu bar and select the Empty Caches option.

Clearing the Cache in Firefox

Step 1: Open settings — Open Mozilla Firefox, click the button with three bars in the upper-right corner of the browser window and select Options from the resulting drop-down menu.

Step 2: Clear the browser cache — Click the Privacy and Security tab located on the right side of the navigation bar and head to the Cookies and Site Data section underneath. Click the button labeled Clear Data. You’ll want to make sure that the option for Cached Web Content is checked, and then press Clear. You can also check the box next to Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed to do so automatically when you close the browser.

Clear the Cache in Google Chrome

Step 1: Launch Google Chrome and click the Chrome menu icon represented by three horizontal bars in the upper-right corner of the browser window, and click Settings near the bottom of the resulting drop-down menu.

Step 2: Then, click the link for Privacy and Security in the left sidebar. You’ll then want to click that and look for the Clear browsing data option. Click it, and make sure the box for cached images and files is checked. You can uncheck the other boxes for browsing history or cookies and other site data if you only want to clear the cache.

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