Apple’s latest operating system for the Mac, macOS Monterey, is now available. And while Apple pushes users to upgrade right away, should you? There are a lot of good reasons for upgrading as soon as possible, but there are also a lot of good reasons to wait. If you’re trying to decide, let’s go over those reasons, and we’ll also give you our recommendation.
Updated 1/31/22 with reports about an apparent Bluetooth bug that constantly wakes a sleeping Mac, draining a MacBook’s battery.
macOS Monterey: Why you should update now
The main reason why you should upgrade now is to get access to the new features. If you want new productivity tools, Monterey has Quick Note, Live Text, and Focus. The new Shortcuts apps is a helpful automation tool. If you have a repetitive task that takes multiple steps, you can use Shortcuts to automate the process and save yourself from going crazy. While Monterey still includes the long-time Automator automation app, you’ll find Shortcuts easier to use.
The new Low Power Mode can be very helpful if you have an older Intel MacBook and you spend a lot of time managing battery life. If you have a more current Mac, the AirPlay to Mac feature is a great way to play content from an iPhone or iPad to a Mac. The Shared with You feature is a convenient way to organize the things you save or get sent in Photos, Safari, Apple News, Apple Podcasts, and the Apple TV app.
iCloud+ has the Hide My Email feature that allows you to create email aliases for your real email account, HomeKit Secure Video support, and Private Relay (still in beta), which hides your IP address and location while you’re on the web. And the Maps and Books apps are better than ever. Safari also has several new features, and the one that may make you want to upgrade is Tab Groups, where you can organize websites, handy for folks who do a lot of research online.
The 12.1 update that Apple released in December adds even more features. SharePlay is finally here—this FaceTime feature that allows users to share media. For example, a FaceTime group call can watch an Apple TV show or listen to Apple Music together. Version 12.1 also includes the new Apple Music Voice Plan, a revamped Memories section in the Photos app, child safety features in Messages, and the new Digital Legacy feature for Apple ID. The highly anticipated Universal Control feature, which lets you use a single mouse to control two Macs or a Mac and an iPad, was delayed until spring 2022.
Besides the new features, Monterey brings a lot of under-the-hood improvements and optimizations, including security updates and optimizations to make the operating system run more efficiently. For more information on how to use the new features, check out our macOS Monterey Superguide.
macOS Monterey: Why you should wait
While it’s tempting to jump on the Monterey wave as soon as it comes, there’s really no rush. Apple will support macOS Big Sur for a while and won’t stop releasing updates for many months.
If you own a MacBook, you might seriously consider waiting. Several users are reporting an apparent Bluetooth bug that constantly wakes a sleeping MacBook, which results in a drained battery. If you turn off Bluetooth before putting the MacBook to sleep, battery life is unaffected, so that’s a workaround you can perform if you really need to upgrade to Monterey.
A very good reason to wait is that Universal Control isn’t available yet in official Monterey releases. Universal Control lets you instantly connect an iPad to a Mac so you can use the iPad or use the device as a second screen. In Apple’s demos, it works kind of like magic—all you do is place the iPad next to the Mac, and the connection is done automatically. It just recently appeared in the version 12.3 beta, so it could be available in an official release soon.
If you want the new Safari, you actually don’t need to upgrade to Monterey to get it—it’s part of Safari 15, which is available for macOS Big Sur. To get it, check for updates in the System Update pane in System Preferences. Apple has dialed back some of the bigger changes, however.
The other main reason you may not want to upgrade now is to avoid bugs. While Apple is already on version 12.1 and has addressed several major bugs, there’s always a chance a bug that affects your particular situation hasn’t been addressed yet. Monterey appeared very stable in its latest beta, but bugs can pop up at any time. Apple recently released a version 12.2 release candidate to developers that contains more fixes, which means it could be a couple of weeks before it is available to the general public.
If you have an older Intel Mac with a T2 security chip, there was an issue that would brick your Mac. However, in November, Apple released a statement to Rene Ritchie, saying that an issue with the T2 security chip found in older Macs has been addressed, and the fix is included in existing macOS updates.
Another issue that is being reported is memory leaks, where an app or function doesn’t release the memory it was using in RAM. Over a short period of time, the amount of memory allocated adds up and takes up a huge chunk of RAM. This is likely a memory allocation bug that will be fixed in an OS update. Apple has not made a statement about this problem and it doesn’t seem to be isolated to Monterey—macOS Big Sur users are experiencing the same problem. It’s unclear if it has been fixed in recent updates, but it’s always advisable to stay up to date if you’re experiencing issues.
Macworld recommends: UPDATE
If you’re anxious to get your hands on the new features that are ready right now, upgrading to macOS Monterey should be a smooth experience, especially now that version 12.2 is out. It’s not a massive overhaul over Big Sur, and while there may be some new bugs that get discovered after the final release, as we said, Apple tends to issue patches quickly. If you have a MacBook, keep an eye out for the Bluetooth bug that constantly wakes the Mac during sleep—you may need to turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using your laptop.
But if what you’re waiting for is Universal Control, there’s nothing wrong with waiting to upgrade until it is ready. You also get the added benefit of point-release updates that fix new bugs.