macOS Ventura 13.1 brings expanded iCloud encryption and the Freeform app

Two major new features in macOS Ventura 13.1 include enhanced iCloud encryption via Advanced Data Protection and Apple’s new Freeform app.

Apple's Studio Display and Mac Studio are featured sitting on a work desk in this lifestyle photograph
There are improvements in Messages and Find My, too | Image: Iewek Gnos / Unsplash
  • The Freeform app is also available on the iPhone with iOS 16.2 and iPad with iPadOS 16.2. In addition, Advanced Data Protection can now be turned on from your Mac. There are a few other improvements in macOS Ventura 13.1, including enhanced Messages search and tweaks in the Find My app.
  • The update is available on all Macs that meet the system requirements for macOS Ventura. In addition to ‌macOS Ventura‌‌ 13.1, Apple has also released macOS Big Sur 11.72 and macOS Monterey 12.6.2 for Ventura-incompatible Macs.

How to install the macOS Ventura 13.1 update

You can download and install macOS Ventura 13.1 ionyour Mac using Apple’s standard Software Update mechanism for the delivery of over-the-air updates.

Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and choose System Settings. In the System Settings window, select General in the sidebar on the left, then hit Software Update on the right. As the last step, click the Update Now or Upgrade Now button next to the macOS Ventura 13.1 update. If you don’t see macOS Ventura 13.1 listed, your computer is already up to date.

What’s new in macOS Ventura 13.1?

Freeform app
The new Freeform app provides features for live collaboration, with changes syncing between devices in real-time via iCloud. Up to a hundred people can work on the same canvas, dropping stuff like images, photos, videos, links, sketches and more.

Advanced Data Protection
Apple devices have always suffered from a critical security-related omission: It stored the encryption keys to access things like your device, Messages and Photos backups on its servers, meaning it was compelled to hand over a suspect’s decrypted device backup after being served a valid legal warrant.

Privacy advocates ssaythis was by design so that Apple could pitch itself publicly as a privacy-first company without being at odds with government spooks. This has changed with Advanced Data Protection, which brings end-to-end encryption to Photos, Messages and many other services that previously did not use end-to-end encryption. For security reasons, Advanced Data Protection for iCloud cannot be turned on on a new device immediately.

Tidbits: Better Messages search, Find My tweaks

  • Messages search now takes advantage of computer vision which lets you find pets, objects and people in images from your chats.
  • If you use the Find My app on your Mac, you can now play a sound to locate your lost or misplaced AirTags trackers, AirPods Pro earbuds and other accessories that participate in the Find My‌ network.
  • There are some handy new actions in the Shortcuts app to check out, including new Shortcuts actions for the Apple Books app.

Apple’s release notes for macOS Ventura 13.1

The full release notes are also available in a support document on the Apple website which outlines what’s new in the updates for macOS Ventura:

macOS Ventura 13.1 introduces Freeform, a new app that offers a great place to brainstorm and bring your ideas to life. This release also includes Advanced Data Protection for iCloud and other features and bug fixes for your Mac.


  • Freeform is a new app for working creatively with friends or colleagues on Mac, iPad and iPhone
  • A flexible canvas lets you add files, images, stickies and more

Advanced Data Protection for iCloud

  • The new option expands the total number of iCloud data categories protected using end-to-end encryption to 23—including iCloud Backup, Notes and Photos—protecting your information even in the case of a data breach in the cloud

Improvements and bug fixes

  • Improved search in Messages allows you to find photos based on their content, like a dog, car, person or text
  • Participant Cursors in Notes allow you to see live indicators as others make updates in a shared note
  • Play sound in Find My app can now help you pinpoint the location of nearby AirTags, AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case and Find My network accessories.
  • Fixes an issue that causes some notes not to sync with iCloud after updates are made
  • Fixes an issue where you may lose keyboard and mouse input in some apps and games

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For more information visit the website

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, visit the website

Other Apple OS updates

To make the most out of the Freeform app, you’ll need to update your other devices like iPhones and iPads to iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2. Aside from the iPhone, iPad and Mac updates, Apple has also updated the Apple Watch operating system with the new features for runners. On the Apple TV side of things, tvOS 16.2 brings Siri voice recognition, Apple Music Sing (unavailable on the Mac) and other tweaks.

And lastly, don’t forget to upgrade your smart home to a more modern architecture in the Home app that will make your smart applianced reposed faster and more reliably than before. This will required updating your smart home hubs like the Apple TV or the HomePod to the latest software.