OS X source code hints at switch to ‘macOS’


Is OS X destined to become macOS?
Is OS X destined to become macOS?
Photo: Marcin Nowak/UnsplashCC

We’ve all noticed Apple’s latest operating system nomenclature, with each new release a device-centric OS, like iOS, tvOS, or watchOS.

Why not macOS, then?

A bit of source code in the current stable release of OS X (10.11.4) seems to point to that very thing.

Developer Guilherme Rambo told Portuguese-language site MacMagazine.com.br that he found an interface file (FUFlightViewController_macOS.nib, in the FlightUtilities framework) that uses the macOS terminology in the file name.

Surely Apple is looking to this as a possible renaming of OS X, which would fit it right in with it’s OS naming for its mobile devices, Apple TV and Apple Watch. It would make sense to launch MacOS 11 this year, too, with new OS versions across the line up (iOS 10, watchOS 3 and tvOS 10) to make it a banner year.

The UNIX-based OS X has been around for 15 years, so it’s probably time to start calling it something new. Originally named after big cats (Puma, Cheetah, Jaguar, Panther, Snow Leopard, and so on), recently the team at Apple has named the different releases after places in California, like El Capitan and Yosemite. There’s no reason Apple can’t continue this naming convention; it’s just that making the OS match the device name would make things a bit clearer to customers.

While we don’t really know what the plan is, we do hope to see the arrival of Siri on macOS (or whatever it’s called in the next release). It would make a lot of branding sense, for sure. Here’s hoping.

  • Ed Rooney


    • Paul Lloyd Johnson

      Congratulations! Is your life complete now? Tragic.

  • Dave TheGrave Hunter

    Has anyone checked if this file “FUFlightViewController_macOS.nib” exists in earlier versions of OS X?

  • Brassman

    Is the author too young or just too ill informed to know that the operating system was called Mac OS (8 and 9) for more than a decade before the UNIX based OSX was released? And before thst the most elegant Sytem 7.

    • Flappy

      Apparently both. Seems to be a trend with these millineal kids. They grew up with a computer available to them at all times but have no idea how things came about.

      • Garrett Fahey

        Millenial? He looks to be in his 40s

    • KarenPage

      It was actually called “Mac OS” starting with 7.6. And the article here talks about it starting with a lowercase “m” and all as one word (“macOS”) which would be different.

      • Rob LeFebvre


    • Rob LeFebvre

      I’m talking about the branding of OS for the Mac as macOS, not Mac OS, which is currently in version 10.

      Also, I’m in my 40s.


    • And it was still called “Mac OS ” when OS X was released in March 2001. This whole thing may just be a name for a file in the OS X source code, but it could also be a sign that Apple wants to rename the Mac operating system to fall in line with the naming scheme of the other OS’s. It’s about time for Apple to ditch the “X” since we’re now at 10.11. I thought 10.10 was ridiculous, but 10.11 is even more so. It seemed that someone at Apple was deliberately avoiding “XI”. Oh well. I guess we will find out at WWDC. Maybe.

  • David Kaplan

    macOS Cupertino would be bomb

  • UZ

    If this is the case, where the prefix of the OS matches the devices, then Apple will also have to rename the iMac to Mac, as it does not run iOS. Not that it’s a bad thing, as it will also relate better to the other Mac family members.

    • Paul Lloyd Johnson

      Mac is already a term used by Apple to represent a category of product. iMac is a subcategory. They don’t need to drop the i.

      • UZ


        tvOS for Apple TV
        watchOS for Apple Watch
        iOS for iPhone, iPad and iMac
        macOS for Mac (mini and Pro) and MacBook (incl Air and Pro)

        I understand it’s a sub category, but in order to properly align products, they should drop the “i”.

      • Chad Brosef

        yeah well its probably not much longer before all macs run iOS….

      • UZ

        Quite possible, but when that happens I am leaving Apple. iOS is SO full of bugs and UI issues, not to mention poor stock apps, I’m seriously considering leaving the platform.

      • Peter

        Wait until you see Windows 10 Mobile or Android buddy… if you think iOS is full of bugs and has poor stock apps – i’m sure Microsoft’s offering will amaze you. You do know they don’t even have an equalizer in their music app right ?

        I love how people say iTunes is “a mess” but somehow nobody has a problem with Windows Groove app which basically has less features than Media Player had in Windows 95, not to mention the UI is a sad joke…

      • UZ

        Sure, different strokes.

        I’ve never in my life used an equalizer, and I’m always keen on smarter tech rather than feature rich tech.

        iOS disappointments for me personally:

        Apple Maps – my home is indicated as a restaurant. Same on Google Maps. Google Maps fixed it within a week of indicating the issue, it’s now been 3 years and three requests later, still no change on Apple Maps.

        Apple Music – a complete disaster. I don’t even know where to start on this one. Terrible recommendations, incorrect genres, and disabling music from my library. This alone will drive me elsewhere. Can’t use an equalizer if I can’t play my music. Oh, and same happend to my partner, and my brother…

        Apple Photos – syncing is disastrous. Photos are duplicated from nowhere, and every month or three I have to clean up manually. But the worst thing ever – I lost 3 exact years of photos, from one day to the next.

        Shall I go on? Apple software is not buggy, it’s broken. iOS needs some serious open heart surgery. I suspect it’s because Apple has so many devices, not the controlled portfolio with a clear strategy of the past.

        Now, at work I use Windows and Google, none of which gave me nearly the same issues. It just works.

      • social_director

        That’s fantastic. So why are you here?

      • UZ

        Because I’m a Mac fan. Not an Apple fan.

      • Eric

        I will meditate over the deeper meaning of your comment.

      • Scott Simon

        I am a system admin at my workplace. I’ve been here for 8 years. I support many Macs and iOS devices, as well as have been using them personally for approx 5 years. I have not seen any of the issues you are describing in either my own devices nor have had them reported to me by users (and trust me – the executives would absolutely report it if they had an issue). Apple Music has worked flawlessly for me. I can’t speak to the recommendations thing since I don’t personally relay on or use them. Apple Photos? I haven’t had ONE issue with it since it launched. It worked absolutely perfectly. Apple Maps does indeed have its issues, but so does Google Maps. Saying that Windows doesn’t give you any issues and “Just works” makes me highly suspicious that you are being truthful here. A VAST majority of users with issues reported come from Windows machines or Android devices. Our environment has approximately 5000 users. I can tell you that the people with Apple devices call for assistance WAY less than those with Windows machines in particular. Saying Windows (any variation of it) just works is stunning…..I have never worked in any environment that would back up that statement.

      • Scott Simon

        And just for reference; heres a list of my devices that I personally use:
        2015 27″ iMac With OS X 10.11 and Windows 10 in Bootcamp
        2015 15″ retina Macbook Pro with the same OS’s on it.
        2015 12″ Macbook – Same OS’s
        2009 Mac Mini with 10.11
        My work Machine is a 2012 15″ Retina Macbook Pro with OS X 10.10 and Windows 8.1 on bootcamp
        iPhone 6S Plus with iOS 9.3
        iPad Mini 4 with 9.3
        iPad Mini 2 with 9.2.1
        iPad Pro with 9.3
        Apple Watch with WatchOS 2.1
        Nexus 6P with Android N
        AppleTV 4 with tvOS 2.1

        Our Windows machines at works are mostly Dells with a good amount of Surfaces as well, running Windows 8.1 for the most part but we have begun testing Windows 10.

        So I get a pretty good feel for how these things all operate and get a good chance to test them all. The reason I own all those Apple devices is based directly on my experience in supporting different devices. I chose Apple for my personal usage because i spend FAR FAR less time maintaining them then I have to with my Windows machines.

      • UZ

        Scott, I have been an Apple user since 1992. I would not make up these things, they are my honest experience with Apple software. And while your executives may not have had ONE issue, MANY others have had MANY of these issues, if you take a stroll though Apple’s Support forums. I may have been unlucky that all this happened to me, which may be more that most, which is why all the more it is such a bitter pill to swallow when people say that Apple is no worse than the rest. Because for me, at least for the tools described, it just worked under Google’s offerings (and it MOSTLY worked on Windows), but not so great on Apple. I think you are coming from a generalised viewpoint, whereas I am being very specific, me as a user with these issues.

      • Scott Simon

        No I get it, and I don’t mean to come off as sounding like I’m saying Apple devices don’t have issues – I know they do. Im just saying in comparison to windows devices and android devices – they have nowhere near the amount of issues. Just about everyone in my IT department would agree with that. To some extent – its because they have more development done for them (at least on the windows side) and are used by more people. Still – troubleshooting an issue on Windows can be a nightmare. Managing them on a corporate level? Thats even worse. Calling Microsoft for support is going down a black hole that I never know when I’ll be getting out of. Windows machines just experience way more issues, and are harder to troubleshoot. Android? Its main issue is fragmentation and poor app development. At any rate, to each his own. I’l continue evaluating and if I ever feel like another product provides a better overall experience – I;ll make the switch no problem

      • UZ

        I think we agree, more or less. Mac OS X has been less of a problem (to me at least) than iOS. And I can still play my music here, though I (obviously) have the same Photos issue.

        Contributing to my problem is that I am not in the USA (or Europe), and I have to tell you, Apple sucks at localisation compared to the others. Google offers my home language as an option, and understands the local market the best of them all, making for a much better experience.

      • Treeburgerface

        I hope to christ you are wrong, but it’s not impossible. If that happens, I’ll be phasing myself over to Windows and Windows Mobile (or Windows Phone 10…or whatever they are calling it this week) I like Mac OS X…but I merely tolerate iOS. iOS more often disappoints, than pleases me. If they push it any harder as a “PC replacement” I am out. iOS needs a complete replacement, something on the order of the Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X transition, for me to even consider relying on it for anything beyond basic smartphone functionality.

      • UZ

        100% how I feel about it.

  • Tony Turner

    macOS built to run on ARM and Intel silicon?

  • simosim

    Rob. “Its” is possessive. “It’s is” short for “it is”. C’mon. You’re a writer…

    • GreenGirl


      • Rob LeFebvre

        Wow – tough crowd. Thanks for the catch.

  • drdaz

    I’m going with no. Until a couple of years ago, it was actually called Mac OS X. I believe they stopped calling it that since a significant number of people are running the OS on non-Mac hardware (hackintosh). That continues to be the case.

    • Peter

      I’m pretty sure Apple did not stop calling it Mac OS because of hackintoshes…

      • drdaz

        There was never any official reason given that I am aware of. It makes perfect sense to me for Apple to distance their brand from the off-label use of their OS.

        Having built and used hackintoshes previously, I know that the experience and performance can very greatly, from absolutely excellent to quite poor. This product of varied quality is not something Apple would want to associate with the Mac brand.

        Why do you think they stopped calling it Mac OS?

      • Edmundas Jankauskas

        Well maybe because it was obvious that this OS X is for Macs? Should Apple think about renaming their OS for hackintoshes, they should also release it fully open for “non-Macs”. If that’s not the case, then renaming was definitely not about hackintoshes.

      • drdaz

        “Well maybe because it was obvious that this OS X is for Macs?”

        It’s not that obvious to the average Joe when they see OS X running on a Dell laptop.

        “Should Apple think about renaming their OS for hackintoshes, they should also release it fully open for “non-Macs”.”

        That’s absurd.

        Just because Apple wants to protect their brand (and they do this at great length!) does not oblige them to license their OS for use on all hardware. They are not renaming ‘for hackintoshes’, they are distancing their product (Mac with OS X) from the other things that might be running OS X.

        Apple are fully aware that this practice is ongoing. They only make active effort to stop it when others try to profit from it, or their brand is endangered.

      • SteveJay

        They dropped the “Mac” to simplify and just call it “OSX” because they had probably intentions to merge iOS and OSX into one single system but somehow they don’t think that this will be ready yet, so since the next update will be proably the version 11, the X (10) does not make any sense, so removing the “X” it woud be “OS” only and no one calls their operative system simply OS, so that’s why they will add the mac just to make some sense in the OS name.

  • Seems it would make more sense to this *next* year so iOS and macOS are on the same major version (11)

  • Winston Purnomo

    Wouldn’t be surprised. First iOS, then watchOS, then tvOS. macOS fits much better than OS X in that scheme.

  • All I want to see from 11branding is a Spinal Tap reference in the adverts.

  • dfs

    Named after big cats? I thought it was German tanks.