Is Ventura better than Monterey?

Apple releases a new version of its desktop operating system, macOS, every year. The two most recent versions are macOS Ventura, released in 2022, and macOS Monterey, released in 2021. With each new release, Apple aims to add new features and enhancements while maintaining the core macOS experience that Mac users know and love.

But with each passing year, it can be hard to remember exactly what changed from one version to the next. Should you upgrade to Ventura if you’re already on Monterey? Or if you’re still on an older OS like Big Sur or Catalina, is it better to jump straight to Ventura, or go through Monterey first?

To help make sense of it all, let’s take a close look at how Ventura and Monterey compare across some of the key features and changes introduced in each update.

Compatibility and system requirements

First, it’s important to check whether your Mac hardware is actually compatible with Ventura or Monterey in the first place. In general, here are the Macs that can run each OS version:

macOS Ventura compatible Macs:

  • 2017 iMac and later
  • 2017 MacBook Air and later
  • 2018 MacBook Pro and later
  • 2019 Mac Pro and later
  • 2017 MacBook and later
  • 2020 Mac Mini and later

macOS Monterey compatible Macs:

  • 2015 iMac and later
  • Early 2015 MacBook Air and later
  • Early 2015 MacBook Pro and later
  • Late 2013 Mac Pro and later
  • Early 2016 MacBook and later
  • Late 2014 Mac Mini and later

As you can see, Ventura generally requires newer hardware than Monterey. So if you have an older Mac that can run Monterey but not Ventura, then Monterey may be your only option. Conversely, some of the latest Macs like the 2021 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros can run Ventura but shipped too late to support Monterey.

New features

Now, let’s dive into some of the key new features introduced in each OS update:

Major new features in Ventura

  • Stage Manager – A new way to organize apps and windows for improved multitasking and window management.
  • Handoff for FaceTime – Seamlessly transfer FaceTime calls between devices.
  • SharePlay support in Messages – Enjoy synced content like movies or songs with friends while chatting in Messages.
  • Mail refinements – Schedule emails to send later, cancel delivery of a sent message, and more.
  • Safari shared tab groups – Share and collaborate on collections of websites with others.
  • Passkeys – A new passwordless sign-in method using Touch ID or Face ID for greater security.
  • Live Text in video – Select and act on text found in paused video frames.
  • Visual Look Up – Get info on objects, scenes, pets, art, landmarks and more in photos.

Major new features in Monterey

  • Universal Control – Seamlessly control multiple Macs and iPads using one mouse/trackpad and keyboard.
  • AirPlay to Mac – Use your Mac as an AirPlay receiver to play content from iPhone, iPad or other devices.
  • Live Text – Detect text in photos or with Camera and take related actions like copy/paste, call, translate and more.
  • Focus mode – Customize which apps and notifications can notify you depending on what you want to focus on.
  • Shortcuts on Mac – Automate common tasks on your Mac using pre-built shortcuts or create your own.
  • Maps improvements – Detailed city maps for select major cities, AR walking directions, new transit features and more.
  • SharePlay (FaceTime) – Share experiences like movies or music with friends while on a FaceTime call.
  • Safari tab groups – Save and organize collections of websites as tab groups to access later.

As you can see, both updates brought significant new capabilities to the Mac. Ventura expanded on communication and collaboration features like Handoff, while continuing to refine areas like Mail and improving security through Passkeys. Monterey focused more on integration between devices with Universal Control and AirPlay, while boosting core apps like Maps and introducing Shortcuts automation.

Refinements to existing apps and features

In addition to brand new capabilities, Apple also used Ventura and Monterey to refine, improve and optimize a number of built-in apps and existing features.

Key improvements in Ventura

  • Spotlight – Rich preview for contacts, actors, musicians and sports.
  • FaceTime – Portrait mode, share playback controls, and ability to invite others via a link.
  • Safari – Shared tab groups, passkeys, improved tab management.
  • Mail – Undo send, reminders, follow-up, scheduling and search improvements.
  • iCloud Shared Photo Library – Private way to share photos with family. Stay in sync across devices.
  • Accessibility – Live Captions, improved Door Detection, Apple Watch mirroring, and more.
  • Gaming – Improved performance in Metal 3, support for Nintendo Joy-Cons.

Key improvements in Monterey

  • FaceTime – Spatial audio, portrait mode, voice isolation, grid view.
  • Safari – Tab groups, web extensions, redesigned tab bar.
  • Maps – New detailed city maps, AR walking directions, transit and driving improvements.
  • Notes – Quick note, tags, activity view, mentioned users.
  • Live Text – Detect text in photos/video to take action on phone numbers, addresses and more.
  • Focus – Customize notifications and apps based on what you want to focus on.
  • iCloud+ – New premium services like Private Relay, Hide My Email, HomeKit Secure video.
  • Accessibility – Background sounds, improved VoiceOver, AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch.

These refinements may seem minor compared to big new features, but they demonstrate Apple’s commitment to improving the core experience of using a Mac every day. Both Ventura and Monterey made meaningful enhancements to essential apps like FaceTime, Safari, Maps and built expanded accessibility capabilities.

Performance improvements

Under the hood, Ventura and Monterey also brought performance boosts that can substantially speed up common tasks:

Performance gains in Ventura

  • Faster launch times for apps like Safari, Mail, Messages, Photos
  • Up to 1.8x faster app launches under Rosetta translation for M1 Macs
  • Up to 15x faster Python script performance with accelerated NumPy
  • Up to 6x faster TIFF image encoding in apps using ImageCaptureCore framework
  • Reduced energy impact of background activity updates by up to 94%

Performance gains in Monterey

  • Up to 50% faster launch times for Safari, Mail, Notes
  • Up to 2.5x faster import into Photos
  • Up to 2x faster M1 Mac wakeup from sleep
  • Faster, lower latency Metal rendering engine
  • Reduced memory usage and faster launching for iPhone and iPad apps on Mac

Thanks to extensive optimization work during each release, Apple is able to deliver meaningful speed boosts over time that can really be felt during everyday use. Both Monterey and Ventura made apps launch faster, accelerate important creative and productivity tasks, and help extend battery life on portables.

Security enhancements

In addition to new features and faster performance, Apple also leverages each macOS release to strengthen the overall security of Macs:

Key security enhancements in Ventura

  • Rapid Security Response – Quickly fix critical security issues without full software updates.
  • Passkeys – Next-generation passwordless sign-in using Touch ID or Face ID.
  • Web extensions in Safari isolated for each tab – Contain damage from malicious extensions.
  • Stateless personalization – Apps can be personalized without accessing on-device data.
  • Stronger anti-stalking protections – Tighten access to data like location and contacts from airdropped content.

Key security enhancements in Monterey

  • iCloud+ Private Relay – Browse Safari in private by hiding IP address and web activity.
  • Sealed System Volume – Protects OS files against tampering.
  • Credential Manager – Generate strong, unique passwords you can access on all your devices.
  • Remote Device Management via MDM – Manage and configure employee-owned Macs securely.
  • Expanded data protections – Tighter controls on what apps can access data like contacts, camera, microphone.

Apple takes an increasingly holistic view of security, adding advanced protections at both the operating system and hardware levels. Ventura introduced cutting-edge passwordless sign-in technology with Passkeys, while Monterey brought innovative browsing privacy tools with iCloud+ Private Relay. Both updates expanded data protections for users.


So in the end, is Ventura conclusively better than Monterey? There’s no simple answer.

If your Mac is compatible with both, Ventura gets the edge for cutting-edge new features like Stage Manager multitasking, Handoff for FaceTime, and Passkeys. But upgrading comes with the usual risks of bugs and incompatibility with existing workflows. So staying on Monterey maintains a more proven, stable environment.

If you’re still on Big Sur or older, Monterey is likely the best intermediate step, given its broader compatibility with older Macs. Ventura requires relatively new Mac hardware released from 2017 onward.

In general, Apple does a great job ensuring forward compatibility with apps and accessories when moving to new macOS versions. But as with any major upgrade, it’s wise to check for any known issues with apps or devices critical to your workflow before upgrading.

Some Mac users move swiftly to each new version of macOS to stay current. Others prefer to upgrade only every few years when buying new hardware. Ultimately, it depends on your comfort with change versus your appetite for cutting-edge features. Both Monterey and Ventura are excellent options for the Mac in their own right.