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Have you ever needed to know what version of Mac OS was on a computer? For some users, the answer may never be, but others may need to know exactly what version of Mac OS system software is running on a particular Mac. Most of the time, the need to know what MacOS version is on a Mac is needed to learn about compatibility with software or a specific feature, but it can also be helpful to know what version of Mac OS is installed for troubleshooting and other reasons as well. While many Mac users immediately know what version and version of system software their computer is running, other users may not know this information.
This one tutorial Will show you how to Easily find out what version of Mac OS system software is running on a Mac, including the main release name and the specific version of MacOS system software.
How to Find out what version of Mac OS is running and installed on a Mac
- Anywhere on your Mac, find and click the Apple menu in the top left corner
- Choose About This Mac from the Apple menu
- The Mac System Overview panel will appear on the screen showing which Mac OS release and version is installed on the computer
In the example of this screenshot, the “About This Mac” screen on that particular Mac is running “macOS Mojave” as the major release, and the specific version of macOS Mojave running is 10.14.2.
In the screenshot below, “About This Mac” shows the Mac with “OS X El Capitan” as the major release, and the specific system software version is 10.11.6.
• Bonus tip: You can also get the Mac OS build number from the same screen. Simply click on the version number in the About This Mac screen. A hexadecimal code will appear next to the version indicating the build number of the specific software release. The build number can be useful for more advanced users to know, but is generally not necessary information for average Mac users.
• Bonus tip 2: The About This Mac screen also makes it easy to find out when a Mac model was created and built.
• Bonus tip 3: You can also find the Mac serial number on the About This Mac screen.
• Bonus tip 4: If you’re inclined to use the Terminal, you can also get Mac OS system information and version from the command line if needed.
• Bonus tip 5: The solution here will show you how to get the current Mac OS version, but if you have an installation file somewhere, you might be wondering what version is in that system installer. Follow these steps to find out which Mac OS system software version is included in a MacOS Installer application.
Why is the version of MacOS software important?
Some users may wonder why the macOS software version even matters, and why would they want to know at all. But knowing the system software version can be helpful for many reasons, including:
- Feature existence or compatibility
- App Compatibility
- Accessory support or compatibility
- Troubleshooting Procedures
- Install, reinstall and update Mac OS
- If you are using a combo update to update Mac OS system software
Major new releases of Mac OS are available from the Mac App Store, while software updates for an existing release can be found in the Software Update control panel or the Updates tab of the Mac App Store.
Mac OS X version history and release names
For those interested in some history, you might want to know that Mac OS is labeled with different naming conventions, with each major Mac OS release also having a different name. For the first nine releases, Mac OS versions were labeled after feral cats, while the releases after that were named after locations and places in the state of California.
The current and historical Mac OS names and versions are as follows:
- Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah
- Mac OS X 10.1 Puma
- Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar
- Mac OS X 10.3 Panther
- Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
- Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
- Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
- OS X 10.7 Lion
- OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
- OS X 10.9 Mavericks
- OS X 10.10 Yosemite
- OS X 10.11 El Capitan
- MacOS 10.12 Sierra
- MacOS 10.13 High Sierra
- MacOS 10.14 Mojave
Prior to the modern naming convention “Mac OS X”, Mac system software was labeled “Mac OS” as well as “System,” but those earlier versions had a completely different underlying architecture. Modern Mac OS versions are built on top of a BSD Unix core, while the much older pre-OSX-era releases were not.
For what it’s worth: accessing the “About This Mac” screen from the Apple menu also goes way back to old Mac OS releases, so if you dig up an Apple Macintosh SE / 30 from an attic you can find the system software version on those old Macs in the same way.
This is true for the Mac, of course, but if you have an iPhone or iPad, you can check which iOS version is running on iOS devices via Settings.
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