This one thing might get me to jump ship from Windows 11 to macOS

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I've been fiddling with computers since I was a kid trying to cobble together his own PC out of parts found in the trash. In the decades since I've generally stuck by Windows as my operating system of choice, and nothing about macOS or Linux has seemed enticing enough for me to make the switch. Until now.

So what changed? Well, it wasn't Windows 11 or the recently-revealed macOS Sonoma. No, it was me. I got older (if not wiser) and gradually began feeling more and more exhausted every time I need to create a new password or remember an old one. 

You likely have similar headaches, especially if you (like me) work remotely for a big company. Your job alone may require you to remember multiple passwords and update them frequently, then you have your social media and personal mail accounts, your bank account(s), whatever accounts you maintain for services like car insurance or pet-sitting, your streaming media accounts, your accounts on whatever gaming services you may use...the list goes on. 

And if you do for some reason keep an old-fashioned list of your passwords (instead of relying on a password manager like 1Password) it can now easily fill a page or more.

I don't mean to make mountains out of molehills with this complaint. To be clear, I'm an idiot who should just pick a password manager app, put it on my phone and PC(s), and stop worrying about remembering every login I've ever created.

But in the years since password managers became the de rigueur recommendation for every tech writer talking parents through the process of remembering their HBO login for the umpteenth time, I just haven't been able to jump on the bandwagon.

I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's due to deep-seated trust issues. I'm happy to pay for products and services I enjoy, but less enthused about trusting any company with the keys to all of my personal data.

And yet, with macOS Sonoma slated for a full release later this year I'm starting to wonder if I should become a regular Mac user. It's bringing with it a lot of neat features, including interactive Widgets (which, if useful, would be a nice change of pace from the hamstrung Windows 11 Widgets) and a Game Mode which should help improve game performance on macOS.

But the one thing that's got me seriously considering adopting macOS full-time isn't even new to macOS Sonoma — it was unveiled at WWDC 2022 last summer, and is only now starting to seem like a viable way to live your life. I'm talking, of course, about passkeys.

What are passkeys? Put simply, passkeys are a relatively new form of identity authentication that work like passwords but don't require you to remember them. 

Instead, a device you own generates a unique, encrypted credential and the service you're trying to log into (say, eBay) creates its own matching credential on its own server. The next time you try to log into that service, it will detect that you've set up a passkey and attempt to let you log in via that passkey, rather than asking you to type in a password. 

The idea is that it's faster, easier and safer to authenticate your identity to whatever device you own that has a passkey for that service, and then have your device send the passkey to the service and log you in. This also helps protect you from some evil tricks, like phishing emails that try to get you to log into fake versions of real websites and thus reveal your login credentials, since you would instead use a passkey that would not be recognized.

What it looks like, in practice, is that when you visit a website with passkey login (like Kayak) on a device like an iPhone (which supports passkeys) and attempt to log in, you simply authenticate yourself to your iPhone—using FaceID, TouchID, or a passcode—and then your iPhone sends the appropriate passkey to log you into your account on said website.

This is great for me because I don't need to know my passwords and don't need to worry about Apple knowing them either. Admittedly, I already trust Apple with a lot of my personal information, including banking details, but it's still a nice bit of peace of mind. 

I also trust Microsoft with my banking details, and I am excited to start using passkeys more often in Windows 11. Microsoft already offers a lot of great options for living password-free on Windows (including Windows Hello for facial authentication via IR cameras), but its rollout of passkey support at an OS level has thus far been spotty and hard to notice. 

I suspect part of the reason it's a harder sell for me to use passkeys on Windows 11 is the hassle of getting my iPhone 14 to play nice with my Windows PCs and share passkeys. It's just easier and more straightforward in macOS right now, since I already own an iPhone and thus can count on being able to easily share whatever passkeys I create on it across Apple's iCloud Keychain to whatever Mac(s) I use. 

Plus, with Apple's Family Sharing tech in place, I can share the passkeys on my iCloud Keychain with the rest of my family. And that's gonna be a key feature for me down the road, once my sister finally gets around to making the password-to-passkey switch and I need to hit her up for our Netflix login again. (Sorry Netflix!)

Passkeys are still relatively new and many major tech companies are working to integrate them into their platforms, including Apple, Google and Microsoft. I'm just getting used to using them on macOS, a year after support was announced, and I suspect it will be another year or more before most of us are using passkeys on the regular.

Perhaps by then, Windows will have the same level of robust, visible support for passkeys that macOS and iOS offer. Until then, I'll be looking at the price of a new MacBook Air 15-inch and wondering if the lack of a touchscreen is really that big of a deal-breaker after all.

macOS Sonoma Release Date: Tips & Tricks

The macOS Sonoma release date is still a few months away, but some Mac users might want to start preparing for the software’s arrival right now.

macOS Sonoma, also known as macOS 14, is Apple’s next major upgrade for Mac devices. The operating is set to bring numerous changes to select Mac models. Changes on board include new screen savers, widgets on the desktop, improvements to video conferencing, and a whole lot more.

The macOS Sonoma beta is available to those with a developer account. In July, Apple will push it to those enrolled in the company’s public Beta Software Program. A developer account requires a yearly fee but the Beta Software Program is free to anyone with a compatible device and an Apple ID.

If you want to try macOS Sonoma’s new features and enhancements on your Mac, but don’t want to wait for the official release date, you might want to give the software spin ahead of its official release date.

macOS Sonoma is currently in beta testing, Apple’s on its first iteration of the software, and the firmware’s official release date will land sometime in the fall. We suspect it will arrive in October after Apple pushes iOS 17 to iPhone.

With the macOS Sonoma release date on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about the upgrade. In this guide we’ll outline some tips and tricks that will come in handy as we close in on the software’s release.

Prepare for the macOS Sonoma Release Date

With the macOS Sonoma on the way, you might want to start doing some prep work.

macOS Sonoma will likely require a sizable chunk of space on your Mac’s internal storage. New macOS operating systems typically do.

If your Mac is getting low on storage, make sure you take the time to cleanup your storage. Go into your Mac’s storage and delete files you no longer need. This will help make room for macOS Sonoma. It could also improve your Mac’s performance.

You should also start backing up the important data you store on your Mac. Data loss issues are rare, but there’s always a chance something goes wrong during the transition from your current version of macOS to macOS Sonoma.

The installation process may also log you out of some of your apps and services. We recommend having your Apple ID, iCloud information, third-party app login info handy just in case it does.

Get Familiar with macOS Sonoma

If you don’t plan to install the macOS Sonoma beta on your Mac(s), you should get familiar with the changes coming with the software.

Apple’s released a guide that will walk you through most of the changes on board the new operating system. It’s a great starting point.

If you’re still hanging around on an older version of macOS and you don’t have plans to upgrade to the latest version(s) of macOS, make sure you get familiar with newer versions of macOS as well. You’ll get those changes when you upgrade to macOS Sonoma later this year.

For more on the latest version of macOS, check out our macOS Ventura walkthrough.

Avoid the macOS Sonoma Beta

You might be tempted to install the macOS Sonoma beta on your Mac, but most people should avoid the beta and wait for the official release.

The macOS Sonoma beta will help Apple tackle bugs and performance issues before they become headaches for millions of Mac users around the world.

It’s also fun to try out new features before they’re released to the general public. That said, beta software can be extremely problematic.

The macOS Sonoma beta is causing problems for testers and you could run into some of these very same issues if you install it on your Mac.

If you rely on your Mac to get through a day of school or work, you’ll probably want to stay put on whatever version of macOS you’re currently running.

Monitor Feedback from the Beta

If you skip the macOS Sonoma beta, and again most people should, make sure you monitor feedback from beta testers as we push toward the software’s official release in the fall.

Monitoring this feedback will keep you up-to-date about the software’s potential problems and it will also alert you to its potential benefits. More importantly, it might help you decide if you want to install macOS Sonoma on you Mac right away or wait.

We’ve seen macOS Sonoma feedback emerge on sites like YouTube, the MacRumors forums, and social media sites like Twitter. Check those sites if you’re curious about the software’s performance.

macOS Sonoma Release Time

If you’ve owned a Mac or any other Apple device for awhile, you already know this.  For those of you who are new Apple’s ecosystem, here’s your PSA.

Apple almost always rolls software updates out around 10AM Pacific. This will be the case for macOS Sonoma beta updates, and it will likely be the case for the final version of macOS Sonoma.

Here’s what that looks like for other time zones in the United States:

  • Eastern – 1 PM
  • Central – 12 PM
  • Mountain – 11AM
  • Keep this in mind if you plan to install new versions of the macOS Sonoma beta, or the final version of macOS Sonoma, right away.

    macOS Sonoma Download Size

    We don’t know how big the macOS Sonoma download will be, but again, you can expect it to require quite a bit of free space on your Mac.

    You can expect long download times, especially in the minutes after Apple pushes the update live. Plan accordingly. We’ll let you know when we learn more.

    Prepare for macOS Sonoma Problems

    macOS Sonoma will go through Apple’s extensive beta process, but the final version won’t be perfect. Far from it.

    Common macOS problems include abnormal battery drain, Bluetooth issues, Wi-Fi problems, app instability, UI lag, crashes, and Exchange issues.

    These problems appear after every single macOS release and we’ll probably see them emerge in the minutes, hours, days, and weeks after the macOS Sonoma release date.

    It will be difficult to predict what kind of performance you’ll get out of your Mac once you move to macOS Sonoma so you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to tackle issues you encounter on day one and beyond.

    We’ve released a list of fixes for common macOS problems. If you don’t consider yourself a macOS expert, you’ll want to bookmark these fixes.

    You’ll also want to bookmark or follow Apple Support on Twitter and the support page on the company’s website. You should also get familiar with Apple’s Discussion forums.

    Learn How to Downgrade

    If you run into into issues with macOS Sonoma, you will be able to downgrade back to an older version of macOS. Unlike iOS, Apple won’t close the downgrade path back to older software.

    If you aren’t familiar with the macOS downgrade process, use this time to get familiar with it.

    Keep Your Apps Updated

    If you want the best possible experience on macOS Sonoma, make sure you keep your apps updated before, and after, the software’s release date. These updates should help stabilize performance and help your device make a smooth transition to new software.

    Before you download an app update, make sure you read reviews from other users. These reviews will alert you to potential benefits and problems with the latest version.

    Take Your Time with macOS Sonoma

    macOS Sonoma is an exciting upgrade and some of you might be tempted to install it on your Mac on the day it arrives.

    For some of you, particularly those dealing with macOS Ventura problems, that might be the correct move. However, some of you will be better off waiting a few hours or a few days before installing the operating system.

    There are plenty of reasons to skip macOS software updates on day one. macOS updates can wreak havoc on your Mac’s overall performance.

    If you’re feeling leery, dig into feedback from Mac users who download macOS Sonoma right away. If you’re still undecided, think about waiting.

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