Apple’s macOS Mojave will launch on September 24. Mojave’s most exciting features include a Dark Mode, Stacks for organizing your desktop files, and a beautiful Dynamic Desktop wallpaper.

This free update will support most Macs from 2012 and onward. Mojave was announced at WWDC 2018 and was available as a beta for several months, so we’ve had time to play with it.

Dark Mode

macOS 10.14 has a new system-wide dark mode option. You can automatically enable this on a schedule with the Night Owl app, so Dark Mode can turn itself on at night and off during the day.

Apple’s dark theme is already extremely comprehensive—unlike Windows 10’s incomplete Dark Mode—and seems to affect every included application, including the Finder. It even gives you a dark New Tab page in Safari.

This option doesn’t affect many third-party apps yet, but we expect more Mac application developers to support Dark Mode in the future.

RELATED: macOS Mojave's Dark Mode Puts Windows 10's to Shame

Accent Colors

Mojave brings some long-awaited theme customization options to the Mac desktop. You can now select an “accent color” for your desktop, which is used for selected text, buttons, and highlighted menu options.

This option is available at System Preferences > General, alongside the option to enable Dark Mode.

Desktop Stacks

macOS 10.14 can automatically organize your desktop with the new Desktop Stacks feature. Enable it, and the files on your desktop will be “stacked,” cleaning your desktop up and making it easier to find files you need. You can choose exactly how you want to stack files, too—for example; you can stack them by file type, by date created, or by tags. You can also choose how you want your Mac to sort each stack.

Apple’s iCloud service can automatically sync the files on your desktop between your devices. Desktop Stacks makes it easier to take advantage of that syncing feature without having an extremely cluttered desktop.

RELATED: How to Organize Your Desktop With Stacks on macOS Mojave

Dynamic Desktop

In keeping with its name, macOS Mojave includes a desert photo as its default desktop background. This photo is a Dynamic Desktop background that automatically changes throughout the day based on the position of the sun in your geographical location.

Your Mac can automatically enable Dark Mode at night, too, matching the desktop background. This affects your lock screen, as well.

Only the default desktop background is available as a Dynamic Desktop. Third-party utilities will let you create custom dynamic desktops from any images you like. A dynamic desktop is just a HEIC file with multiple images and special metadata.

Quick Look Editing

The Quick Look tool is a fast way to preview files on macOS. Just select a file in Finder and press the Spacebar to open a lightweight preview pane.

In Mojave, Quick Look provides a variety of actions for quickly editing a file, too. You can mark up and sign PDFs, crop and rotate images, and trim video and audio files right from the Quick Look pane. The Quick Look pane also now has a Share button.

Gallery View, Quick Actions, and More Metadata in Finder

Apple has added some new features to Finder. There’s now a gallery view that’s ideal for quickly looking through folders of images or PDF documents. You’ll see a large preview image above a smaller line of thumbnails representing the files in the folder.

You’ll also find “Quick Actions” in the preview pane. These buttons can quickly rotate images, sign PDFs, and perform other tasks right from the Finder. You can also assign Automator tasks as Quick Actions to quickly perform them on files from the Finder. Here’s how to create your own Quick Actions.

The Preview pane now shows more metadata about files, too. For example, you can see information like the camera model used to take a photo in the preview pane.

RELATED: How to Create Your Own Quick Actions on macOS Mojave

Screenshot and Screen Recording Tools

The Mac has some new screenshot tools. Whenever you take a screenshot, you’ll see a thumbnail of it on the corner of your screen. You can click that thumbnail to open an editing interface with options for quickly cropping or annotating the screenshot—just like on iPhone and iPad.

There’s also a new floating menu with options for recording a video of your screen. You no longer have to use QuickTime to record your Mac’s screen. To open the new menu, press Command+Shift+5. You’ll see the menu at the bottom of your screen.

This floating menu also lets you set a timer that counts down before a screenshot is taken, choose whether the cursor will appear in the screenshot, and pick the folder where screenshots are saved.

RELATED: macOS Mojave Upgrades Screenshot Tools with Video Capture and Annotation

Continuity Camera

Mojave also includes a new Continuity feature that makes your iPhone work better with your Mac. You can now directly take photos on your iPhone and insert them in applications like Mail, Notes, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers.

For example, to insert a photo from your iPhone in Notes, use the File > Insert From menu, and then select either “Take Photo” or “Scan Documents.” You’ll be prompted to take a photo with your iPhone, and then that photo will be instantly inserted into the application. If you select “Scan Documents,” you can take a photo of a receipt or other paper document and your Mac will automatically straighten the document before importing it.

You can select Edit > Insert From in Finder, too. This will insert a photo as a file directly into your current folder.

Delayed: FaceTime With 32 People at Once

Apple has improved FaceTime so that you can now use it to have video calls with up to 32 people at once. The same call can include both audio and video callers, and people in an iMessage conversation can drop in or drop out of the video call whenever they like.

This works on the Mac as well as the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

That’s what Apple originally announced, anyway. This feature has since been delayed. The release notes now say “Group FaceTime has been removed from the initial release of iOS 12 and will ship in a future software update later this fall.”

RELATED: FaceTime Will Support Up to 32 People on a Group Call

News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos for Mac

The Mac is getting four new apps. You can now read Apple News, check on your stocks, control HomeKit smarthome devices, or record and play back Voice Memos right from your Mac. You can create a voice memo on your iPhone and listen to it on your Mac, for example.

These four apps are actually “ported” from the iPhone and iPad versions using Apple’s UIKit, which is used on Apple’s iOS operating system. Apple is making it easier for other developers to port apps from iPhone and iPad to Mac, too.

A Redesigned Mac App Store

The Mac App Store has been redesigned, just like the new App Store was in iOS 11. The new Mac App Store has similar “stories” and “collections” to help you discover new apps.

For example, you can more easily browse the store using the Discover tab, looking at “Editors’ Choice” collections as well as the top paid apps and top free apps. Other categories include Create, Work, Play, and Develop, making it easier to find useful apps for whatever you’re doing.

System Updates Are Back in System Preferences

As part of the Mac App Store redesign, updates for the macOS operating system and included applications like iTunes have been removed from the App Store.

These updates are now available at System Preferences > Software Update. You can also select which types of updates are automatically installed on your Mac from here. Just click the “Advanced” button to do so.

Camera, Microphone, Messages, and Mail Permissions

On macOS, apps must already request permission to access various hardware features, just like they have to on iPhone and iPad. Mojave adds even more permission controls to help protect your privacy and personal data.

In Mojave, apps must now request permission to access your webcam, microphone, message history, and emails stored in Mail. If malware is running on your Mac, it won’t be able to spy on your webcam or listen to your microphone without asking for your permission first.

You may experience problems with some old apps under this system. They may not see certain files or other resources. As developers update their apps for Mojave, you should stop seeing problems.

However, if a system tool needs access to miscellaneous application data files, you’ll have to allow it in the Security & Privacy pane. Learn more about how Mojave’s privacy protection features work.

RELATED: How macOS Mojave's Privacy Protection Works

Favicons on Safari Tabs

Mojave includes Safari 12. The latest version of Apple’s web browser now finally offers favicons—website icons, in other words—on its tabs. Other browsers have had this feature for years.

You can enable Safari favicons from Safari > Preferences > Tabs > Show Website Icons in Tabs.

RELATED: Favicons Are Finally Coming to Safari, Here's How to Enable Them Now

Enhanced Tracking Protection in Safari

The Safari browser now has more tracking protection features. It fights against browser fingerprinting, which websites can use to track you based on your browser’s unique characteristics. Safari just exposes much less configuration information to websites.

Safari will now block Facebook’s Like buttons, Share buttons, and comment widgets from tracking you without your permission. Safari will block other types of social media services from tracking you, too—but this is clearly aimed at Facebook.

RELATED: Safari Battles Browser Fingerprinting and Tracking on macOS Mojave

Legacy Safari Extensions and Plug-ins Are Going Away

Traditional Safari extensions, which have the .safariextz file extension, are now “deprecated.” This means they will stop working in a future version of Safari.

For now, these extensions still function, and you can still install them from the old Safari Extensions Gallery. However, you can no longer install traditional extensions from outside the Safari Extensions gallery. This means a bunch of extensions will break in Mojave.

Apple encourages developers to move towards the new Safari App Extensions, which are available in the App Store. However, they are less powerful than traditional Safari extensions.

Most legacy NPAPI-style plug-ins no longer function on Safari, either. Safari will still run the Adobe Flash browser plug-in, but that’s it.

RELATED: macOS Mojave Will Break a Bunch of Safari Extensions

Password Help in Safari

The Safari browser now automatically creates and fills strong passwords for you. If you’ve reused the same password on multiple websites and saved them in Safari’s password manager, you’ll see those reused passwords flagged in Safari’s Preferences window so you can update them.

While viewing a password’s details in Safari’s preferences window, you can easily change the password or send it to someone else via AirDrop, too.

Metal 2 Gets Better, and OpenGL is Deprecated

macOS 10.14 Mojave pushes forward with Apple’s Metal graphics. It contains a new version of Metal 2.

OpenGL and OpenCL are now “deprecated.” Existing games and applications using OpenGL and OpenCL will continue functioning normally, but Apple recommends developers move to Metal 2. Applications using OpenGL and OpenCL will likely stop working in a future version of macOS.

Apple has been letting OpenGL wither away for a while now. macOS still only supports OpenGL 3.3 or 4.1, depending on the Mac. The latest version is OpenGL 4.6. Vulkan is the future of cross-platform graphics, but Apple is sticking with Metal instead. However, there’s a Vulkan-to-Metal runtime library named Molten that should provide a way to run Vulkan applications on Macs, iPhones, and iPads with good performance.

As part of Apple’s Metal for VR work, Apple is also promising “plug and play” support for the HTC Vive Pro virtual reality headset on macOS and says it’s been working closely with Valve and HTC on compatibility with SteamVR.

RELATED: Apple’s Direct X: What is Metal and Why is it Important?

More Interesting Features

You’ll notice some other smaller changes throughout Mojave. There are many other under-the-hood changes and small bits of interface polish, too. Here are a few of the most interesting ones:

  • Recently Used Apps on the Dock: The MacOS dock now shows recently used apps on the right side of the dock, separated by a little line. It looks just like the dock on iPads.
  • Faster Wake Times: Apple promises Macs will wake faster from sleep.
  • APFS for Hard Drives: The new Apple File System (APFS) now works on mechanical hard drives. In High Sierra, it only worked on Fusion drives and solid-state drives.
  • More Siri Features: Siri can now control HomeKit-enabled smarthome devices from your Mac. Siri can show you saved passwords, too, if you ask. Apple also says Siri knows “much more” about motorsports, celebrities, and food.
  • Emoji in Mail: There’s a new Emoji button in Mail for quickly adding emoji to your emails. You can still open the emoji panel anywhere.
  • Suggested Folders in Mail: The Mail app now suggests folders where it thinks you might want to place an email.
  • Automator Shortcuts on the Touch Bar: You can now make custom shortcuts with Automator and put them on your Mac’s Touch Bar.
  • Facebook and Twitter Login Removed: You can no longer sign in with Facebook or Twitter from System Settings > Internet Accounts. To share via Facebook or Twitter from the system-wide Share sheet, you’ll need to install a Facebook or Twitter app that provides a share extension.
  • DVD Player Updates: The DVD Player app included with macOS was completely rewritten. It’s now a 64-bit application with a new user interface, and it even supports the MacBook Touch Bar.
  • iBooks Becomes Apple Books: Apple renamed the iBooks app. It’s now named “Apple Books.”
  • More Languages: Mojave now offers UK English, Australian English, Canadian French, and Traditional Chinese for Hong Kong language options.

RELATED: APFS Explained: What You Need to Know About Apple's New File System

Image Credit: Apple

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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