Developer's Visual Comparison of macOS Catalina and Big Sur Offers Closer Look at Apple's UI Redesign for Macs


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

macOS 11 Big Sur is the next major release of Apple's operating system for Mac, and following its preview at WWDC, one of the biggest discussions has revolved around the all-new user interface redesign.

Developers are still learning what the impact the new UI will have on their apps, and with that in mind, app designer Andrew Denty has compiled an extensive visual comparison of the user interface changes between macOS Catalina and macOS Big Sur.
All of the screenshots are taken on a default install of macOS and the Catalina version is always on the left. I made a conscious effort not to resize any windows or change any default settings. I haven't captured everything, but it is a good taste of the changes so far.
The side-by-side comparisons cover changes to Finder, Preview, System Preferences, the menu bar, Notification Center, Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Notes, Photos, Apple Music, Podcasts, and many other native apps.

Overall, Denty's takeaway is that the UI differences in Big Sur aren't as dramatic as he first thought, consisting of a "largely incremental set of changes to make macOS feel more coherent with iOS and iPad OS."

That said, he thinks Apple "still has a vast amount of work to do to perfect the new macOS UI" before it exits the beta, and he hopes to see more consistency in the launch experience of apps, as well as more visual separation in elements like status bars and path bars, which he admits "look a little unloved" and don't yet feel properly integrated.

Big Sur is available for developers at the current time, but Apple also plans to make a beta available for public beta testers in July, followed by an official release in the fall. What are your thoughts on the redesigned UI? Let us know in the comments below, and don't forget to check out our Big Sur roundup for an extensive look at all the new features.

Article Link: Developer's Visual Comparison of macOS Catalina and Big Sur Offers Closer Look at Apple's UI Redesign for Macs
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macrumors 6502
May 8, 2012
The only thing that bothers me about the redesign is lack of contrast for controls/buttons.

I always remove all apps from Dock after installing macOS so don't really care about the icons much (and like most of them anyway).
- - Post merged: - -

Question for anyone with the preview: can you right click on the window name in Finder to get access to the folder hierarchy or is that completely gone now?
You can still do that:

Screenshot 2020-07-07 at 13.15.48.png


macrumors 68040
Sep 15, 2016
Berlin, Germany
the new navigation bar or lack thereof in the finder etc. is just done for the hell of change no? maybe i am getting old and i cant believe i am saying this but "why change something that works". now its all white on white and somewhat hard to see.

Also the shadows on the icons, no just no. Especially that green "vomit smudge" on the iMessages and FaceTime icon. And why is a shadow green? Why are they not the same on iOS anyway? so many questions


macrumors 6502
Oct 15, 2017
It is the infantilization of software, making it appeal to kids rather than adults. Candification, with transparency and effects using the combined wattage of a medium nuclear power plant. Duolingofication, just plain silly.


macrumors member
Feb 1, 2013
They really need to work on the menu bar's spacing. It's very "gappy" between the items in the bar and not as tight as it was. Icons are now spread out too far and depending on programs you are running the Menu or the icons will hide behind others. It's a pain when trying to find something and you have to click on the desktop so the default menu appears so that you may see the icons.


macrumors 68040
Sep 15, 2016
Berlin, Germany
In my opinion the icons on the new Dock bar are a big mistake. There is no consistency between them. The green icons stick out like a pair of sore thumbs, with their obvious shadows.
i dont even understand why there is a green shadow in that position. Makes no sense to me and looks like someone was just missing a spot when using a photoshop tool too aggressively


macrumors 604
Oct 5, 2008


macrumors member
Oct 27, 2017
Wien, Österreich
Quite honestly, having first seen some snippets of the Big Sur (like the infamous battery icon) and reading about the neumorphism, I was expecting a real tragedy, some kind of candy-like Huawei-style icons. But after seeing this comparison, I really like it. Some icons could be better (messages, FaceTime and App Store are still a no for me), but other than that it looks like a nice improvement bringing some fresh design to the OS. For some unknown reason certain icons on Catalina still had the old, awkward looks (email, settings?), now they are updated, which is a plus. To my eyes in certain places Big Sur looks even flatter than the previous macOSs. I might be talking a bit too much about the icons only, but this applies to the entire design.

Interesting how this will transform to changes in iOS 15 (as they surely will follow).
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