Features lost across versions of macOS

Article Do You Use It? How TidBITS Readers Install macOS Updates - TidBITS says that “Some people even wait until Apple announces or even releases the next macOS version, under the theory that it somehow isn’t fully baked until then.”. I wait until the next major release, but not under that theory.

It used to be one reason to wait was that macOS updates have become so time consuming that I’d wait until there were just the faster security updates left. But now with the sealed system volume even the security updates are a pain.

So that leaves my primary reason: I used to look forward to classic Mac and OS X updates. That ended with OS X Lion. I think every OS X/macOS version since Snow Leopard has been worse than the one before. So, I put off the pain of lost functionality as long as possible.

You think I’m joking? Just look at what we’ve lost in each upgrade since OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard:

10.7 Lion

  • Rosetta (PowerPC apps)
  • iSync
  • DVD distribution of the upgrade
  • Save As (change to “modern document model")

10.8 Mountain Lion

  • Safari RSS
  • Display preferences menu
  • MobileMe
  • Click on Dock icon to invoke application Exposé

10.9 Mavericks

  • Open Transport (NewsWatcher)
  • Sync Services (USB sync of contacts & calendars)
  • Apple File Protocol is deprecated
  • Airport Utility

10.10 Yosemite

  • A legible user interface

10.11 El Capitan

  • A usable Disk Utility
  • Freedom to update /usr, such as the locate database script in /usr/libexec

10.12 Sierra

  • Console logs
  • Audio and video chats in Messages
  • Time Remaining in the battery status menu
  • Secure delete (Trash and srm)

10.13 High Sierra

  • Offline macOS installs
  • HFS on internal SSDs

10.14 Mojave

  • HFS on startup drives
  • iTunes support for Apps (iTunes 12.6.5 is not supported)
  • Back To My Mac
  • Sub-pixel antialiasing (affects non-Retina displays)
  • Safari extensions not in Safari Extensions Gallery
  • 1Password auto-entry of passwords

10.15 Catalina

  • 32-bit apps
  • QuickTime 7
  • Legacy media codecs in the QuickTime 7 framework
  • iTunes
    • and artwork in the Songs (Column Browser) view in Music
    • and ability to hide the Sidebar in Music
    • iTunes scripts no longer work
    • iTunes Music Library.xml
  • Dashboard
  • macOS on writable volume
    • and user files at the Macintosh HD (root) level
  • Mail classic view (column headings, rearrange columns, change column size)
  • FireWire startup drives
  • Safari extensions not in App Store
  • Log folders in Console
  • “Remote Disc” — accessing a shared CD/DVD drive
  • Bash as the default shell
  • Launchd daemons/agents running scripts from Documents
  • Custom icons on non-boot macOS volumes
  • Cloning macOS to a pre-encrypted volume; the only way to encrypt is to boot from it

11 Big Sur

  • Kexts where there is a System Extension equivalent (firewall and anti-virus)
  • Hiding Date/Time in menu bar
  • Distinctive icons; they now look like iOS
  • Compact menubar icon spacing
  • Horizontally laid out dialog and alert boxes
  • Visible proxy icons
  • Classic sound effects
  • AFP file sharing
  • Network Utility app

12 Monterey

  • Dropbox as an ordinary folder that syncs, but weirdly only on some computers
  • Speaker icon for Sound menu bar applet, now is Headphones. And it doesn’t change when muted.
  • Python (but is installed by Xcode Command Line Utilities)

I hate Big Sur’s icons and vertical dialog boxes intensely.


What version brought the change to the ‘Settings’ window?

It’s now a horrible mess and I can see no reason why it was changed when the previous version was more visually and functionally pleasing.


Interesting what you have posted, in general.

I am not challenging you, or saying you are wrong, but I would like to know how you compiled this list.

Also, specifically regarding -

If I am interpreting your notes correctly, this particular item states, starting with Mavericks macOS, the local sync (via USB) of Contacts and Calendars went away.

However up until my installation of Ventura, I was able to successfully perform a local sync (via USB) (of Calendars, although the Contacts syncing simply did not perform at that point).

When I installed Ventura, my attempt at local sync (via USB) of Calendars blew up, and basically destroyed my Calendar data.

It’s a long, sordid story, but at this point, I am giving up on the Apple versions of Calendar, and Contacts, and am in the process of switching to BusyCal and Busy Contacts.

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We owe that to macOS 13 Ventura.

Guess we should have considered the version number a warning. :wink:


IIRC Craig Federighi said (maybe on the Talk Show podcast?) that Settings app was redone in SwiftUI for several reasons - one was to make it more consistent with iOS and iPadOS. Lots of people are coming to the Mac for the first time after experiencing iOS (there are many more users of iOS than MacOS for sure) and the consistent interface would be helpful. But I think another reason, and perhaps more important, was that the System Preferences set of individual panes was getting hard to manage and update - remember that they were all single pane, and couldn’t scroll, so they had to create subpages when the number of options grew too large to fit in a single window - and Apple switched instead to SwiftUI which would, in the long run, be much easier to maintain and, Apple thinks, use.

Frankly I think it’s fine, and improved from the first release of Ventura. It can take me a while to find particular options, but the search box actually works pretty well. And I suppose if I was somebody who never used a Mac but had extensive experience with iOS I’d probably prefer the current layout.

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I compiled the list from notes I make while I’m using macOS. I started using Macs with System no-number-yet in 1984 but only started keeping track of what’s Lost in the Upgrade in 2013.

Sync Services was dropped in Mavericks, and with it, local synching over USB. It was iCloud or nothing, as this TidBITS article explains: Making the Most of Contacts in Mavericks - TidBITS. Notice the comment from Adam Engst about its removal.

I think USB synching was supposed to have returned with OS X 10.9.3 and iTunes 11.2: Local Contact/Calendar Syncing Returns in iTunes 11.2 - TidBITS. But I don’t think contacts sync to my iPod anymore,


In addition to (32-bit) Quicktime 7 we also lost Front Row, iDvd & iWeb with less-able alternatives.


But then why does the new System Settings not show the list of Apps Using iCloud until you click “Show All”? That fooled me, since everywhere else they show the full list.

If it were just re-arrangement that would be an inconvenience. What bugs me is the loss of functionality. For example, Time Machine no longer shows the size of excluded folders.

I’d be more accomodating of the Settings window if it was resizable. It seems positively silly to have this skinny window - with much scrolling or searching required - when I have access to a 32" high res monitor. Even on the 14" MBP it’s annoying.

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Though I’m ok with the change, I’m not defending Apple - I’m telling you their reason. But iOS does the same thing now, so it’s obviously a design decision.

My Settings window does resize, but only by getting taller, not wider.

I do miss Back to my Mac, which was useful.


I have been doing USB syncing of Calendar and Contacts in Mojave 10.14.6 – with the caveat that it appears to be one way only from the Mac to the iDevice. Was it ever bi-directional?

And thanks for the list of features lost. That matters more to me than features gained.

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It is resizable vertically. Resizing horizontally wouldn’t help much or make much sense without creating a column-view-like hierarchical approach because settings just don’t take much horizontal space.

I just checked, and as I thought, Contacts and Calendars haven’t synched to my classic iPod in years.

I don’t even know where’d you select to sync them in Mojave Monterey. I don’t see anything relevant in the Finder window when the iPod is attached.

So how are people doing USB sync of Contacts and Calendars? (using third-party products is cheating)

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I’ll be honest, as a daily user since the Mac OS X 10.0 Public Beta, finding what I’m looking for in System Settings/Preferences has always been a chore. Now it’s just a slightly more ugly chore.

I do utterly despise the Big Sur icons and alert boxes. If I could roll back any of the UI changes they have made, it would be those.

Airport Utility is still with us.

Is it too snarky to say that we lost the ability of the Finder to reliably remember window placement/state with 10.0?


My objection to Airport Utility was it was the typical Apple procedure:

  1. There’s a full-featured utility or application. (In this case, Airport Utility 5.6)
  2. Apple releases a completely new version, but it is missing functionality that was in the old version.
  3. Users complain.
  4. Apple says: but this is just version 1! We’ll add the missing features later.
  5. Time passes. Apple never adds the missing features.
  6. Apple removes the ability to run the old, full featured utility.

(See Airport Utility, Quicktime Player, Disk Utility…)

In particular, the newer Airport Utility could not fully manage the features in an Airport base station or Time Capsule. And since there’s no other way to manage an ABS or TC except through the Airport Utility, that means that they effectively removed capabilities from those devices.

(I actually can still run AirPort Utility 5.6 on Monterey, but it is not easy!)


And we lost AppleTalk and creator codes in Snow Leopard, but I wasn’t going back that far.

I will award 10 points to anyone who can pinpoint which OS X release lost the ability to drag the proxy icon from a mail message to a Finder window, to create an alias to that message.


Hmmm, I never did this (or knew about it, or needed to do it really). But out of curiosity I put the cursor in the header of the email that delivered this message (when I put the cursor there the pointer was replaced by a hand) and dragged the message to the Finder, and there’s an alias to your message.

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When I do that it creates a copy of the message. Dragging the proxy icon used to create an Internet Location file (.inetloc) whose target was a message:// url; when opened it would open the original email message.

First Apple changed it so that dragging the proxy icon made a copy of the message. Then they removed the proxy icon from email windows entirely.

It is still possible to create these aliases, but it requires a script. I miss the easy way.

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I do believe it was, back in the day. However, if you’re thinking of wiping and resync, that only ever went from Mac to iPhone.

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