Wondering what the name of the latest macOS version is? Curious about the versions of Mac OS X that came before? Here we’ll fill you in on the names of the different versions of the Mac operating system in order: from the newest macOS to the first version of Mac OS X and the codenames that Apple used for them. We’ll also show you how you can check which version of macOS you are running and find out what the latest version of macOS is.
However, Monterey won’t be the newest version of macOS for long. Apple will be unveiling its plans for the next version of macOS at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2022. At the keynote that kicks off the WWDC conference Apple will reveal details of macOS 13 – including its name. The final version will then be available to download in the fall (usually in the September or October time frame).
Mac OS X first launched more than 20 years ago on 24 March 2001. There’s been a lot of change over those two decades: good and bad. From the problems with the first edition (it was slow and didn’t run important apps like Microsoft Word) Mac OS X has evolved through various iterations and various designs to what we know today. We’ve seen tight integration with iOS devices, the incorporation of the cloud, and the arrival of excellent and helpful features including integrated Time Machine back ups, Quick Look – which lets you see a preview of a document without opening the application, and innovations like Expose and Spaces and Desktop Stacks to help you work efficiently.
In this article we will run though the long history of Mac OS X, or macOS as it is now known.
For an overview of the features of the various versions of the Mac operating system, showing how it has developed over time, take a look at our video above. If you want to know the names Apple assigned to Mac OS X over the years, and the codenames that were used internally, read on.
List of macOS version names
Here’s an overview of every version of macOS and Mac OS X Apple has released. You’ll find a complete list of OS X version code names, along with internal code names (if available):
OS X 10 beta: Kodiak – September 13, 2000
OS X 10.0: Cheetah – March 14, 2001
OS X 10.1: Puma – September 15, 2001
OS X 10.2: Jaguar – August 14, 2002
OS X 10.3 Panther (Pinot) – October 24, 2003
OS X 10.4 Tiger (Merlot) – April 29, 2005
OS X 10.4.4 Tiger (Chardonnay) – January 10, 2006 (for Intel Macs)
OS X 10.5 Leopard (Chablis) – October 26, 2007
OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard – August 28, 2009
OS X 10.7 Lion (Barolo) – July 20, 2011
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (Zinfandel) – July 25, 2012
OS X 10.9 Mavericks (Cabernet) – October 22, 2013
OS X 10.10: Yosemite (Syrah) – October 16, 2014
OS X 10.11: El Capitan (Gala) – September 30, 2015
macOS 10.12: Sierra (Fuji) – September 20, 2016
macOS 10.13: High Sierra (Lobo) – September 25, 2017
macOS 10.14: Mojave (Liberty) – September 24, 2018
macOS 10.15: Catalina (Jazz) – October 7, 2019
macOS 11: Big Sur (GoldenGate) – November 12, 2020
As you can see from the list above, with the exception of the first OS X beta, all versions of the Mac operating system from 2001 to 2012 were all named after big cats, from Cheetah to Panther to Mountain Lion.
But while the public-facing builds were named after big cats, internally, they were named after wines (aside from OS X 10.6 which had no codename).
Even after Apple switched public-facing code-names to places in California back in 2013, it carried on naming them after wines internally until 2014. In 2015, Apple decided to change the theme of internal code-names from wines to types of apple. Original.
In 2016, Apple took the plunge to unify the branding of its operating systems by rebranding Mac OS X to macOS, which sits nicely alongside iOS, tvOS and watchOS, and paved the way for macOS 11, the successor to Mac OS X, which arrived twenty years after the first beta of Mac OS X.
Whichever version of macOS you are running you should always keep it up-to-date with Apple’s latest updates and security fixes. Apple releases various updates to the OS throughout the year, so you can expect updates from time to time. Read more about the latest updates in our latest version of Monterey article.
The latest version of Monterey is macOS 12.3.1 (released on March 31, 2022)
You can tell which version of macOS you are running by clicking on the Apple logo in the top left and choosing About This Mac.
How to install the latest version of macOS
If you want to update your Mac to a newer version of macOS the method will be determined by the version of macOS you are running.
Very old versions of Mac OS X came on a disk and any security updates came via Software Update. Since the arrival of the Mac App Store in 2011 (as an update to Snow Leopard) versions of Mac OS X and macOS have been available to download via the Mac App Store.
However, that changed slightly with Mojave, which arrived in 2018. Now operating system updates come in via a new Software Updates pane in System Preferences. You can still find the software in the Mac App Store, but you will also see it in System Preferences > Software Update. One of the benefits of this is that your Mac can be set to automatically download the latest updates and install them, keeping your Mac up-to-date with minimum effort on your part.
You can get to System Preferences from the Apple menu: Click on the Apple logo in the top left and choose System Preferences. You may be taken straight to the Software Update pane, if not click on the Software Update cog icon. Your Mac will search for an update and if there is one you can choose Update Now.
Some Macs will be set to update macOS automatically. If you want your Mac to update automatically follow these steps:
In Monterey, Big Sur, Mojave or Catalina:
Open System Preferences.
Click on Software Update.
Check the box beside Download new updates when available.
Now select the box Install macOS updates.
In High Sierra or earlier:
Open System Preferences.
Click on App Store.
Check the box beside Automatically check for updates – it should have a tick in it as should the four options below that…
Now deselect the box beside Download newly available updates in the background.