The next version of Apple’s operating system for the Mac is
High Sierra. While the OS is mostly about software
refinements, it also lays the foundation for future innovations
in the worlds of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented
You can learn more by taking a look at our favorite High Sierra
features listed below. That’s followed by an FAQ, where you can
get details on High Sierra’s release date, system requirements,
installation instructions, and more.
Editor’s note: We’ve updated this story with a link to our
macOS High Sierra: The Macworld review
full review of macOS High Sierra. High Sierra is mostly an
under-the-hood upgrade that sets the Mac up for the future.
There are cool features in Photos and Notes, and Safari 11 has
controls for autoplay videos. Read our review to learn more.
A new file system
Ever since System 8, the Mac has used the HFS+ file system to
keep our documents and directories running smoothly, but at
last year’s WWDC, a new Apple File System (APFS) was announced. It made
it into iOS with the
iOS 10.3 update, and with High Sierra it’s also coming to
the Mac. But where the changes to iOS are largely behind the
scenes, you’ll really get it see it in action in the new macOS.
One of the main tenets of High Sierra, APFS will be new the new
default file system, bringing an advanced 64-bit architecture
and a responsive design to cut down on the time it takes to do
common tasks. Apple VP Craig Federighi quickly demoed how fast
files are copied, and it should save quite a bit of time, even
on older Macs. APFS also brings some heavy-duty security,
including built‑in encryption, crash‑safe
protections, and simplified data backup on the go.
APFS works with SSDs, and when you upgrade to High Sierra, the SSD will
automatically be converted from HFS+ to APFS. APFS does not
work with Fusion Drives and hard drives, so those storage
devices will continue to use HFS+.
A recent AppleInsider report states that some games
have problems running on APFS. Unity recommends that developers
working on games based on the Unity Engine (such as Cities:
Skylines) should not upgrade to High Sierra or upgrade to
Unity 5.5. AppleInsider also states that other games
that have problems since the APFS upgrade include
Civilization V, Counter-Strike: Global
Offensive, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress
Photos is rapidly becoming one of the most used apps on our
Macs, and in High Sierra it looks we’ll be spending even more
time with it. A slew of new features await us in the new OS,
including better organization, looped Live Photos, and new
Memories categories. It’ll also be easier to identify who’s in
your photos with more accurate People identification and
cross-device syncing for albums.
The new Photos app in High Sierra features new pro-level
But the coolest feature may be a set of new built-in editing
tools. Photos already lets us make some awesome adjustments to
our snapshots, but High Sierra seriously ups the game with
powerful pro-level tools—like a curves palette for fine-tuning
color and contrast, a selective color dropper to home in a
specific hue, and new filters that will make your photos fit
for an art gallery. And for all your gallery- and album-worthy
photos, Apple has now partnered with third-party apps to give
you more publishing and printing options.
Speedier, smarter Safari
Apple’s browser always gets a tune-up whenever a new version of
macOS comes out, but this time around Federighi says the
improvements coming in High Sierra actually make it the world’s
fastest desktop browser. It features 80 percent faster
help us surf way quicker.
We have benchmarks of the Safari 11 beta, and it definitely is
the fastest Mac browser available
But we’re more interested in two new features that address what
it’s like to use the Internet in 2017. The first will eliminate
one of the more annoying features of the modern web: autoplay
videos. Where Safari in Sierra tells you which tab is playing
audio, in High Sierra, it will shut the video down before it
can start. Autoplay blocking will detect which sites are
delivering unwanted videos, and then press the pause button for
See how it works.
Along with our ears, the new Safari will also protect our
privacy. A new system of intelligent tracking will use machine
learning to identify prying advertising trackers that track
your online behavior and remove the cross-site tracking data
they leave behind. That means you won’t get hit up with three
dozen vacuum ads the next time you buy one on Amazon.
Safari 11 also has the option to let you view sites in Reader
mode all the time.
Here’s a look at the always-on Reader mode.
We watch a lot of video on our Macs, and High Sierra is making
the experience even better. In addition to supporting 4K where
available, it’s also upgrading to the new industry standard,
High Efficiency Video Coding (or H.265 for short). The new
system compresses video up to 40 percent more the H.264, the
current video standard. Under the new codec, videos will stream
smoother and take up less space, both of which will make
experience much more pleasant. And if you’re a video creator,
the new standard will also be built into Pro Tools so your
projects will be able to take full advantage of it right from
When Metal was introduced in
El Capitan, it brought a slew of under-the-hood changes to
make games and graphics sing, and now it’s ready to deliver the
next generation, appropriately called Metal 2. The new
technology will open up games to a whole new world of power,
with a new API and powerful tools for developers. Metal 2 will
bring 10 times the draw call throughput that Metal delivered,
enabling graphics that are far more robust while adding
external GPU support for hard-core gamers.
Metal 2 will let developers create even more powerful games and
But Metal 2 also brings support for something sorely missing
from today’s Macs: virtual reality. High Sierra lets developers
create interactive and immersive virtual reality experience on
the Mac for the very first time that will work with the HTC
Vive and Unreal Engine for VR. And to show how serious it is
about VR, Apple is even offering developers an external
graphics dev kit to get started, featuring a Thunderbolt 3
enclosure with an AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU. You know, until the
iMac Pro arrives in December.
You can learn more about Metal 2 by watching these Apple videos
from the Worldwide Developers Conference. These presentations
are targeted at developers.
Apple announced at WWDC that the company will start to phase
out support for 32-bit software in macOS. In January 2018 (High
Sierra will be released months before that), new apps submitted
by developers to the App Store must be 64-bit apps. Also, all
apps and app updates must be 64-bit by June 2018. Eventually,
32-bit support will no longer exist in macOS, probably in a
version after High Sierra.
That’s important for developers to note, but it’s also
important for users. If you have old software you like to use
and never update, it’s possible they are 32-bit apps and they
won’t work in a future version of macOS. Now’s the time to
update those apps and get used to them, or find alternatives.
If you’re using Apple’s Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio,
Apple is sending notifications to registered user regarding
compatibility issues with High Sierra. According to MacRumors, Apple is informing those users
that Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio are 32-bit apps that
“will not launch on a computer running macOS High Sierra.”
Users running these two apps will need to upgrade to Final Cut
Pro X an Logic Pro X.
The following pro apps are compatible with High Sierra:
- Final Cut Pro X 10.3.4 or later
- Motion 5.3.2 or later
- Compressor 4.3.2 or later
- Logic Pro X 10.3.1 or later
- MainStage 3.3 or later
If you use Microsoft Office with the macOS High Sierra beta,
take note. Microsoft announced that Word, Excel, PowerPoint,
and other Office apps may have problems with the High
Sierra beta; Office 2016 should run, but users may
encounter crashes. Office 2011 will not work. Office will
have full support of the final version of High
Sierra, as Microsoft has clarified in a support
Pinned note in macOS High Sierra’s Notes app.
Since High Sierra is a maintenance release, there will be lots
of little improvements all over your desktop that you might not
even notice at first.
- In Notes, you can better organize your information by using
a formatted table. Got note you need to access frequently and
quickly? Now you can pin it.
- Siri has a more natural voice that sounds more like a
person rather than a machine.
- Spotlight will provide flight information, and can show
multiple Wikipedia results when there’s more than one answer to
- Get a sneak peek at the
new emoji coming to macOS.
- In Mail, Search will now use Spotlight to quickly identify
top hits, and you’ll be able to split your inbox and your
compose window when in full-screen view. Also, Mail has been
optimized so it uses less space on your storage device.
- When you’re in a FaceTime call, you’ll be able to easily
turn a special moment into a Live Photo so you can remember it
- There are a bunch of
improvements that IT professionals will appreciate, too.
macOS High Sierra FAQ
What is the name and version number of the new
macOS? Apple names its macOS versions after California
locations. This time, it named the new version High
Sierra. The name follows Apple’s pattern of slightly
changing the name of the previous version of the OS if the
upgrade isn’t considered a big one. (See for example, Leopard
and then Snow Leopard, Lion and then Mountain Lion.)
Apple VP Craig Federighi introduces macOS High Sierra to the
crowd at the WWDC keynote.
Apple senior VP Craig Federighi joked during the WWDC keynote that the name could be
“misconstrued,” but Federighi was reassured that the name High
Sierra was “fully baked.”
If you’re into version numbers, then you’ll be happy to know
that this one is version 10.13.
When will macOS High Sierra be released? Apple
announced at its iPhone X event that macOS High Sierra will be
available on September 25, 2017.
How much with macOS High Sierra cost? Apple
makes its operating systems free, so macOS High Sierra is a
free upgrade for users who have macOS Sierra installed.
From what operating systems can I upgrade to macOS High
Sierra? If you have macOS Sierra (the current macOS
version), you can upgrade straight to High Sierra without doing
any other software installations.
If you are running Lion (version 10.7.5), Mountain Lion,
Mavericks, Yosemite, or El Capitan, you can upgrade directly
from one of those versions to Sierra. Chances are this will
still be the case with High Sierra.
How do I get macOS High Sierra? Apple will
make the High Sierra upgrade available in the Mac App Store.
Apple also has a beta available to the general public, which is
now available. Public betas are released on a regular cycle and
the betas are free, but come with the caveat that the software
isn’t as stable as it would be at release—meaning it
could cause problems on your Mac. However, if you do
decide to try the beta, you can provide Apple with valuable
feedback. The public beta is not the same versions as the
developer beta; it’s a few cycles behind.
Learn more about the macOS High Sierra Public Beta, or you
can go ahead and sign up
for the public beta program online here. You need to make a
Time Machine backup before you install the beta in case you
need to restore your system.
If you try out the beta and decide later that you don’t want to
use it anymore and want to go back to macOS Sierra, Apple has
instructions on How to unenroll from the public beta and
how to restore your system.
You can continue to participate in the beta program after the
High Sierra golden master has been released. You’ll get beta
versions of the High Sierra updates.
What Macs are compatible with macOS High
- MacBook Pro (2010 and later)
- MacBook (Late 2009 and later)
- MacBook Air (2010 and later)
- Mac Pro (2010 and later)
- iMac (Late 2009 and later)
- Mac mini (2010 and later)
Should I upgrade to macOS Sierra? Whether you
upgrade to High Sierra or not is up to you. First, you need to
check to see if your Mac is compatible.
Then, you also need to make sure the software you use most
often will work. As High Sierra’s ship date approaches,
developers may release updates to insure compatibility.
Check the Mac App Store on a regular basis to install updates
on apps you have bought there. (To do this in the Mac App Store
app, click on the Updates tab. This will check the store for
If you have software you didn’t get in the Mac App Store,
launch the app and look in the preferences or other menus for
an option to check for updates. You can also look on the
Make a backup of your Mac before you install High Sierra. You
might even save your important documents separately from your
primary backup, just in case. If you install High Sierra and
encounter problems, you can revert back using the backup.
How do I install macOS High Sierra? After you
download High Sierra from the App Store, there are several ways
to run the installation.
- Go to the High Sierra product page in the Mac App Store.
The Download button will be replaced by an Open button. Click
on it to start the installation.
- In the Mac App Store app, click on the Purchased tab. You
should see the macOS High Sierra installer in the list of
purchased apps. Click on the Install button.
- Go to your Applications folder and look for a app called
“Install macOS High Sierra” and double-click on it.