The public beta of macOS Ventura has arrived. These are our favorite lesser-known features

Enlarge / Mac running macOS Ventura.


Apple today released beta versions of its next major operating systems, making it relatively easy for adventurous users to download and install rough versions of the software that will begin powering Macs, iPhones, iPads and other devices. from autumn. .

We’ll be posting full reviews of these new operating systems when they’re officially released, but for Mac users looking to jump into public betas today, we’ll be covering a few macOS Ventura features we’ve learned in our time. with developer betas (the first public beta roughly matches the third developer beta, which was released last week).

Rather than focusing on big changes, like the Continuity Camera, Search improvements, Passkeys, or the overhauled Settings app, we focused on smaller but still important improvements, including a few- ones that show us where Apple is trying to steer the Mac. the next years.

Public betas for iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura and other updates can be installed on supported hardware using Apple’s documentation here. As with installing any beta software, proceed with caution – make sure you have recent backups of your important files and consider using test hardware rather than installing betas on systems where you count on a daily basis.

Faster and seamless security updates

Apple’s long list of Ventura features is called Rapid Security Response, and it’s touted as a way for Apple to deliver smaller, faster macOS updates that don’t require a system restart. But what does that mean, exactly?

To install updates like this, Ventura makes a few additions to Big Sur’s Signed System Volume (SSV) security feature. To recap, the SSV encompasses almost every macOS system file, and your Mac is only allowed to start and run if the volume signature indicates that nothing on the SSV has been modified or tampered with in any way. whether it be. When updates are installed, the SSV is mounted in the background, files are patched, a new cryptographic signature is created for verification on the next boot of your system, and a snapshot of this newly signed volume is created for use at next computer startup.

To allow some smaller updates to be installed without a reboot, Ventura uses separate “cryptex” disk images for some applications and operating system files. As described by anonymous Twitter firmware engineer @never_released, cryptex images are treated by macOS as extensions of an existing volume. These images can be opened and edited independently of the SSV, but for macOS and most of its applications, they will appear as part of the system volume, like any other system file.

Ventura will be able to patch applications and other system files located in these cryptex images without having to touch the SSV, including frameworks related to Safari, WebKit and JavaScript, and others. This will remove the need for a lengthy install and reboot process while retaining the security benefits of SSV for most system files. Whether this actually leads to faster or more frequent security patches remains to be seen. Larger updates, including (presumably) major updates like 13.1 or 13.2, will most likely continue to use the current approach requiring a reboot.

Beyond the System Settings app

The Mac’s new System Settings app completely replaces the old System Preferences app, and it’s probably the biggest change the app has gotten since the dawn of Mac OS X. But work on long-standing elements of the system UI doesn’t stop there.

For example, Ventura also totally redesigns the macOS print dialog, removing the multi-section drop-down menu in favor of a long page with multiple expandable sections, plus a new independently scrolling continuous preview column on left. Apps with a layout option will also reveal the presence of an old friend, a hi-res fluid version of Clarus the Dogcow. It dates back to the days of LaserWriter, when Clarus served a similar purpose.

Font Book moves to a tiled UI in Ventura, with a quick visual preview of multiple fonts.
Enlarge / Font Book moves to a tiled UI in Ventura, with a quick visual preview of multiple fonts.

Andrew Cunningham

Ventura further ushers in the biggest overhaul of Font Book since its introduction in macOS 10.3, shifting from a multi-column design that previews only one font at a time to a more visually oriented font grid that provides better previews. small of dozens of fonts at a time.

Unfortunately, Apple has not decided to rethink everything of its older built-in macOS apps. If you were hoping for a TextEdit or Chess overhaul this year, you’ll have to keep waiting.

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Steven L. Nielsen