How to Revisit Each Version of Mac OS X From Your Browser
The Aqua GUI on Apple operating systems has undergone a notable evolution since March 2000, when it appeared in OS X 10.0, and you might be surprised how different things look now. With the recently launched Aqua Screenshot Library, you can view every version of OS X (and macOS) over the years and watch the evolution of Apple’s operating system – all in your browser.
The Huge Gallery is the latest work from 512 Pixels , an online library that tries to keep track of everything Apple has to do (including a lot of Mac wallpapers ). The Aqua Screenshot Library, as creator Stephen Hackett notes, provides a comprehensive overview of the history of Apple’s operating systems, covering their transition from bulkier CRTs to compact LED-backlit displays; The various Apple fonts have changed over the years; and Apple’s move from disk-based operating systems to (free) digital downloads.
Let’s take a look at some of these milestones in Mac development.
Mac OS X 10.0 (“Cheetah”)
March 24, 2001 marked the first official release of the Mac OS X operating system after public beta testing a year earlier. Hackett notes that his 128MB memory requirements were “more than most Mac users had on their systems at the time.” This leads to numerous complaints about poor OS performance and high resource requirements. Cheetah’s interface retained the striped menu and window designs from the beta, but it kicked off the cat-based naming trend that lasted until 10.8, “Mountain Lion”.
Mac OS X Leopard (10.5)
The last months of 2007 brought some big changes to OS X. With the release of Leopard, Aqua has taken on a much more streamlined look: now all windows have a simple gray design by default, and a redesigned Finder tool debuted. … Before that, different applications – and different versions of OS X – had different user interface designs (for better or worse). With the release of Leopard, OS X looks more consistent. Most importantly, this was the first version to include these iridescent space backgrounds.
OS X Mountain Lion (10.8);
Mountain Lion was the first version of OS X to come out after the death of Steve Jobs, and it focused on aligning Macs with the late CEO’s other important contribution to the tech industry: the iPhone. The 2011 OS X update, Mac OS X Lion (10.7), marked the beginning of Apple’s merging of the iOS aesthetic with OS X, and the company doubled in size with Mountain Lion. Tools and apps have been renamed to match iOS features, and Apple has made a few small visual and input changes to bring the two operating systems closer together – at least in style.
OS X Mavericks (10.9)
Mavericks was a major turning point in Apple’s business as it was the first version of the OS released by the company for free and offered to users as an update via the App Store in October 2013. Apple hasn’t gone back to paid operating systems since then – thankfully. Mavericks was also the first version of OS X to use non-cat nomenclature. He also dropped the galactic backdrop theme for California landscapes, which we can all agree was a big mistake. Right?
macOS Sierra (10.12)
Version 10.12 of Apple’s Mac operating system is most notable for its big rebranding. Apple dropped the “OS X” name entirely in this release, instead naming its operating system “macOS” to align it with the company’s operating systems on other platforms: iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
Browsing Aqua’s screenshot library is a fun way to see how far macOS has come, especially to see how Apple’s design priorities shift between major releases. However, Aqua Screenshot Gallery is just one of many 512 Pixels projects worth checking out. Be sure to check out the other Apple themed collections that Hackett has amassed over the years, including the excellent 512px YouTube channel .