MacOS Ventura Review: Should You Upgrade?

After a whirlwind of releases this fall, including four new iPhonethe Airpods Pro 2two new iPad and iOS16Apple is ready to hit the release button on the latest major software update for Mac: macOS Ventura.

macOS Ventura isn’t the same substantial update as last year macOS Monterey was, but it brings several useful new features to Apple’s line of computers. There’s a whole new way to multitask, a native option to use your iPhone like a webcam and new Messages, Photos and Mail features, to name a few.

I’ve been using Ventura since it was first released in Apple’s beta program in June, and my initial assessment has proven true: MacOS Ventura is a sneakily significant update.

MacOS Ventura will be available as an update through the Mac App Store. You’ll need to search the store for “macOS Ventura” to find it. Download and install the Ventura installer, then follow the prompts to install the latest major macOS update.

The new macOS Ventura will work on the following MacBook and Mac desktop computers:

iMac (2017 and after)
iMacPro (2017)
Mac Pro (2019 and after)
mac studio
mac mini (2018 and after)
Macbook Air (2018 and after)
Macbook Pro (2017 and after)
MacBook (2017 and after)

Jason Cipriani/CNN

I suspect Continuity Camera will become one of MacOS Ventura’s most popular features, as it turns your iPhone into a long-awaited webcam for your Mac. And best of all, you don’t have to do anything to set it up other than bring your iPhone closer to your Mac. Then, while on a call, select your iPhone as the camera option in the settings page of the respective app.

Then you can use the camera controls on Control Center to activate Portrait mode, use Center Stage to keep yourself in frame, or use Stage Lighting to improve lighting conditions.

There’s even a desktop view that uses iPhone cameras to create a video feed of your desktop so you can appear on the call and show a demo simultaneously. The desktop display feature sounds good; however, I had some issues getting it to look perfect. I’ve found that the farther your iPhone is from you the better you are at getting everything lined up correctly, but even then the video doesn’t look quite right.

screenshot macos ventura

Jason Cipriani/CNN

Stage Manager is new to Mac and iPad with the release of Ventura and iPadOS 16.1. The new feature brings a new multitasking workflow to both platforms, although it was more controversial for the iPad than the Mac due to performance issues.

Stage Manager on the Mac, however, doesn’t suffer from the same issues, and as long as you remember it exists, I can see it being a useful update to help Mac owners perform several tasks.

Stage Manager is an optional feature that you must manually enable or disable in Control Center. When activated, Stage Manager creates an active stage in which it displays an application or group of applications. On the left side of the screen are more steps, with apps displayed on small thumbnails. You can have multiple applications located and running at each stage.

You can drag and drop apps into a group. For example, I commonly use Safari and iA Writer at the same time. In the traditional multitasking MacOS workflow, all open applications reside on a single desktop. This means that when I open another app like Mail, Slack, or Twitter, those windows stack on top of everything else. The end result can be a jumble of apps and windows; it can be overwhelming unless you’re constantly managing and minimizing windows, creating secondary desktops, or running apps in full-screen mode.

With Stage Manager, I can create a stage with my writing apps—Safari and iA Writer—and then another stage with Mail, Slack, and Twitter. And then, if needed, I can switch between stages, access and use apps as needed.

It’s a much cleaner and more simplistic approach to multitasking on the Mac that admittedly comes with a learning curve. But here’s the real problem with that: I never remember he’s there.

Over the past few months I’ve rarely used Stage Manager, not because I don’t like it but because at some point I turned it off, and then it never crossed my mind. to turn it back on. And that’s the problem with making Stage Manager an optional feature with a hidden button in the Control Center.

When I use Stage Manager, I like the clean look and the interactions. I just wish I remembered it was there more often.

macos ventura review cnnu video effects


Of course, there are a few standout features for macOS Ventura. Stage Manager and Continuity camera are two great examples, but for me it’s all the little features in Ventura that make it a must-have upgrade for any Mac user.

First example? You can now use Handoff to switch a FaceTime call between your Mac and your iPhone or iPad without hanging up. If you start a FaceTime call on your Mac, just hold your iPhone up to your computer and you’ll see an alert asking if you want to move the call between devices. A quick click later, the call goes to your iPhone. Really cool.

With the launch of iOS 16 in September, iPhone owners had the ability to edit or delete iMessages. And now Ventura offers this option to Mac users. If you find that you sent the wrong message to the wrong iMessage contact, you have two minutes to realize your mistake, right-click on the message, then select Unsend to delete it.

If you make a bunch of typos in a message, you have 15 minutes to right-click the iMessage, select Edit, and fix your mistake.

I use the edit function several times a day. Typos happen and it’s nice to fix them instead of sending multiple messages to save face.

In a similar aspect, the Mail app now has a customizable send delay that actually only sends your email after that delay expires. This means you can reply to a message, promise a file is attached, hit send, only to find you didn’t actually attach anything. In the bottom left corner of the Mail app, you’ll briefly see Cancel send to stop sending the message at that time.

You can adjust the grace period from 10 seconds up to 30 seconds, if you think more time would be beneficial.

MacOS Ventura will launch alongside iPadOS 16.1 and iOS 16.1, all three of which will launch iCloud Shared Photo Library. I played around with this feature early in the beta program before it was removed. On paper, Shared Photo Library promises to easily sync photos and videos between your iCloud Photo Library with up to six family members. You can set it to automatically share photos and videos with specific faces or a date – perhaps from your partner or kids – or manually add items to the shared library.

macOS Ventura is free and includes useful features and improvements such as Continuity Camera, Scene Manager, and minor changes to apps such as Messages, Mail, and Photos.

If you have a Mac compatible with macOS Ventura, I see no reason why you shouldn’t upgrade. I’d suggest waiting a few days, maybe even a week, to make sure there aren’t any major issues or bugs that weren’t caught during the beta program, then hit that button of upgrade. This software may not revolutionize the way you use your Mac, but as Blink-182 once said, it’s all about the little things.

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