Trying to keep track of all the various operating systems Apple has released since 1984, the year its first MacintoshOS was released, can be a harrowing process.
In the early years, each subsequent system was named with a series of straightforward numbers: there was System 1, System 2, System 2.1, and so on. You knew which operating system was newer because it would have a larger number.
But then, in the early 2000s, the company started naming their operating systems after large cats, like "Snow Leopard" and "Mountain Lion," and numbers, giving you names like Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
Later, they switched to naming OS systems after places in California. As of this writing, the most current macOS version is "macOS Mojave."
Unless you're a programmer or tech journalist, you don't need to know the name of every Mac operating system ever: you just need to know what the latest is, how to check which macOS version you currently have, and how to update it if you need to.
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How to check which macOS version your Mac computer is running
To check your Mac's OS version:
1. Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen.
2. In the dropdown menu that appears, click on "About This Mac."
3. A new window will appear. It should open to the Overview tab by default, but if it doesn't, click "Overview" at the top of the window.
On this page, you'll be able to see what macOS version your computer is running, right down to the build number (something like 10.14.6).
Underneath the OS name, you'll find a collection of basic information about your computer, including its serial number, graphics card, and model name. If you click "System Report…" at the bottom of the window, you'll be able to explore even more information about your device.
How to check for macOS updates
If you think your macOS version might be outdated, try to update it.
1. Again, open the "About This Mac" screen from the Apple logo in the top-left corner. And again, go to the "Overview" page.
2. At the bottom of the window, next to the System Report option, click on "Software Update…"
3. Your Mac will connect to the internet to check if there's a more current version of macOS for you to install. If there is, it'll prompt you to restart your computer to install the update. If you have the most current version, it'll let you know that, and you can close both windows without worry.
For more information on updating your macOS, read our article, " Howto manually update your Mac computer (when you've been putting off automatic updates)."