Mac OS X Naming Scheme/What comes after Mountain Lion etc. [Threads Merged]


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 26, 2009
Santiago, Chile
NOTE: before you read this, please note that I'm discussing only the choice names for the OS. I'm not talking about functionality, stability or even usability of the different releases.

And yes, I am falling in love with OS X Mountain Lion, and can't wait for its release!

After a decade of Mac OS X, here's the list of all releases:

10.0 - Cheetah
10.1 - Puma
10.2 - Jaguar
10.3 - Panther
10.4 - Tiger
10.5 - Leopard
10.6 - Snow Leopard
10.7 - Lion
10.8 - Mountain Lion

From this list you can obviously see that Apple was naming the OS based on 'big cats' names. (which is something that 99% of users in this forum already know).

But the interesting thing is that if you look at the list of big cats on wikipedia:

One definition of "big cat" includes the four members: the tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard. Members of this genus are the only cats able to roar. A more expansive definition of "big cat" also includes the cougar, cheetah, snow leopard, and clouded leopard.
You'll see that three of our beloved "Mac big cats", (Puma, Panther and Mountain Lion), are not included in the list. After further research, I wanted to check out the names that Apple still hasn't used yet: cougar and clouded leopard. The name 'clouded leopard' could've been used as another update to leopard/snow leopard, but it would've sounded cheesy after two consecutive releases with the name 'leopard'.

That leaves the cougar. If you go to the wikipedia page you'll find this:

The cougar, also known as puma, mountain lion, mountain cat, catamount or panther, depending on the region, is a mammal of the family Felidae, native to the Americas.
Which means that cougar, panther, puma and mountain lion are basically the same animal. And that animal is not that big in size. So, a mountain lion is actually a smaller animal than a lion. It's like they're downgrading the king of the jungle to a smaller cat.

Giving three different major OS releases names of the same animal is somehow a weird move from Apple, a company who is known for its extreme attention to the smallest details.

After Mountain Lion, if Apple still wants to release 10.9, they are going to have to use either Cougar or Catamount, which is still the same animal as panther, puma and mountain lion. There are no more 'big cats' names to use except maybe mountain cat (which does not sound interesting at all), and clouded leopard, which I'm 100% sure they won't use due to reasons explained earlier in this post.

One more thing... when Apple is finally done with OS X, and wants to move on to OS XI, what naming scheme do you think they'll adopt? perhaps canines? birds? sharks? or even dropping the whole animal theme, and go with stars, galaxies and maybe natural phenomena. OS XI Volcano, anyone?

Let me hear your thoughts!


macrumors 6502a
Nov 23, 2009
NZ, South Pacific
Obviously, Apple haven't gone for exclusively the names of the "big cats" because as you mentioned, there's only four big cats. They've instead they've named their OS X releases using the names of wildcats.

If you read the Wikipedia Article on this, and skip down to the classifications, it will list for you the names of wildcats and the sub-species of cat to which they relate.

From that list, Apple still has a few names it could use for future releases of OS X.


macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2010
I'm not really too big on their naming scheme honestly. I kind of like antiquated themes such as Mythology, maybe OS X Phoenix or OS X Apollo would be pretty cool. But I guess the title is less important than the what's in the box when all is said and done.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2011
Johannesburg, South Africa
I don't know. I feel like eventually they'll drop the big cat names and simply refer to OS X as iOS.
That won't happen as they are not merging the two systems. Just integrating the two.

I believe for the rest of OS X's life, they will name them after the cats. It's anyone's guess what naming scheme they will use for OS XI.


macrumors 6502
May 25, 2011
They're just product names, not biological taxonomies. Apple will use whatever name sounds distinctive and memorable. Apple will even re-use names from old, mostly-forgotten products for new products. (SuperDrive, Rosetta, iBooks)


macrumors newbie
Feb 17, 2012
I though that a Puma was a Mountain Lion, It must not be about the animals really, just the names, They should do Planets next...


macrumors 65816
Dec 7, 2001
Charleston, SC
I like how everyone just sort of assumes the next generation of the Mac OS will be called "OS XI"

I fully expect OS X to last beyond version 10.10. And whatever the next incarnation is, I have a feeling it will have a very different name.

I also suspect that they will quit with the cat names before they move on to next gen OS.


macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
I wonder if the naming scheme also reflects whether the update is more evolutionary or more revolutionary.

Leopard to Snow Leopard, on the surface, did not change a lot in the way we interact with the system. It's more like an improved Lepoard.
SL to Lion had a number of large changes to the UI, and Versions and iCloud support - changes that impact how we interact with the machine.
L to ML - improvements on the features that are already present in Lion? Not so much completely new stuff?

As for future names: I think Cougar is somewhat tainted, so I don't think they will ever use it. With windows and iOS doing quite well with their simple numbering scheme, in the future we might see more emphasis on the version number, e.g. OSX 9, OSX 10, etc. I think the "X" will become part of the name, now that the "Mac" part is gone, and they will stop numbering the OSs as 10.7.X, 10.8.X and so on.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2001
With billions in the bank, Apple could fund a massive project to bring the saber-toothed tiger back in time for 10.9 and conveniently open a theme park with other prehistoric creatures.

I picture being driven around in Apple's own self driving car (competing against Google's version) with Siri answering all the passengers questions around the park. Or a walk around tour where you can download the Apple Park™ app or be issued your very own iPad for the tour.

The business plan practically writes itself. ;)


macrumors 68020
Apr 21, 2010
iOSX 10.9 Thundercat (some funny name to the first convergent OSX + iOS version)

iOSX 10.9 Ocelot (a small cat remembering the first convergent OSX + iOS version)


macrumors regular
Mar 16, 2011
Actually, panthers are usually black leopards or jaguars, but the existence of a black puma has not yet been conclusively proven.
Wait, your link states that the black panther is a black leopard or jaguar. In North America, panther is another word for cougar or mountain lion.

Interestingly, in other parts of the world they're calling jaguars or leopards panther, so in any case, Apple has already used the same animal twice. (Note that I don't actually know anything about the animals, other than the things I've read on Wikipedia.)


macrumors 68020
Apr 13, 2011
10.9 Ocelot-cougar hybrid

I'm hoping that with II, they have the sense to move to moons of gas giants:
Tethys, Galatea, Umbriel etc. etc. There's enough of them to go around without having to resort to the likes of "Snow Ganymede".