Important Caution About Upgrading to Apple’s High Sierra

On Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, Apple is planning to release the latest version of the macOS: High Sierra (10.13). This new version promises lots of goodies for media creators, including support for the new HEVC compression codec and an entirely new file system: APFS.

However, my strong recommendation for media professionals is that you NOT upgrade immediately.

NOTE: I totally support this new version of macOS. I am simply urging caution in deciding when to update.

Specifically, wait at least a month, especially if you are in the middle of a project. This is a big upgrade and, while Apple and its beta testers have put it through its paces, there’s nothing like real-life to find bugs in the operating system.

Over the years, waiting to upgrade the operating system until you are between projects is always wise. If you are never “between projects,” upgrade when you can afford the time to be down for a day; just in case. (Remember, the world will not end if you find yourself running an older OS for a few months.)

DISABLE AUTOMATIC UPDATING

Complicating this update is a default setting in System Preferences > App Store that will automatically install all macOS updates, without first asking your permission, as soon as they are released.

Be sure to UNcheck this option (red arrow in the screen shot above). This disables automatic updating and puts you in charge of when to upgrade.

A NOTE ON APFS

The new Apple File System (APFS) coming in High Sierra promises major speed and stability improvements over HFS+. However, the new file system will ONLY update SSD boot drives. According to Apple, it will not update Fusion drives, spinning media drives, or any external media.

Because this is a MAJOR change to the file system, waiting a month or so for any potential bugs to be found and fixed makes a lot of sense.

Here’s an article I wrote specifically for media folks on the new Apple file system.

A NOTE ON PLUG-INS

It is always wise to assume that plug-ins will NOT work when the new operating system is announced. If there are plug-ins you depend upon for your editing, verify they are compatible before you update.

In general, plug-in developers track the beta process fairly closely to be sure their software will work with the new version. However, no developer is completely confident about compatibility until the actual gold master is released. Apple has been known to make changes at the last minute that breaks stuff.

For this reason, there are often delays between the release of an update from Apple and full support from 3rd-party developers.

This is another great reason to hold off updating until you know that all the software tools you rely on are fully operational under the new OS.

A NOTE ON FCP 7

Apple has announced that Final Cut Pro 7, and the rest of Final Cut Studio 3 applications, will not work on High Sierra.

If you depend upon FCP 7 for your work, it is critical that you NOT update to High Sierra. If you need both High Sierra and FCP 7, you’ll need to create a dual boot drive. Here’s how.

A NOTE ON HEVC

HEVC, also called H.265, is a new compression standard that is supported natively in macOS High Sierra.

Here’s an article I wrote that explains this in more detail.

SUMMARY

The new macOS upgrade promises lots of new tools and efficiency for media creators. I am looking forward to running it. However, give it time to settle in. The worst thing you can do is upgrade only to discover that your software no longer works.

A little patience now will reap major rewards in the future by assuring your hardware and software and the new OS are ready to work together.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please share this article with your friends. The automatic upgrade damaged a lot of projects during the last major update. It would be good to prevent this from happening again with this upgrade.


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9 Responses to Important Caution About Upgrading to Apple’s High Sierra

  1. Chris North says:

    I bought an external SSD a year or so ago, specifically to keep a bootable cloned version of my Mac OS drive (which is only used for the OS and apps) – so if my Mac OS drive goes down I could boot from the external SSD drive and continue working within minutes. Would it be sensible (possible ?) to install any OS update on a Cloned Drive to test it out first ? Cloning my small OS Drive takes less than half an hour.
    Generally I do not upgrade the OS until it has been well and truly tested in the real world.

    • Larry says:

      Chris:

      This seems totally sensible to me. What I am unsure about is whether High Sierra can be installed on an external drive. Perhaps another reader will know for sure.

      Larry

  2. Should we also assume that any Final Cut Express 4 users are not going to be able to run under High Sierra? I’ve not seen anything in Google searches on this. I am still able to run Final Cut Express 4 under El Capitan and Sierra.

    • Larry says:

      Marty:

      My apologies. I read your question too quickly and misunderstood it. Here is a corrected answer.

      Final Cut Express is built on the same engine as Final Cut Pro 7. I would NOT expect it to work in High Sierra. Apple would strongly discourage its use, as well.

      In fact, I’m surprised you were able to get it to run successfully in El Capitan or Sierra.

      Larry

  3. Roy Dunstan says:

    Larry is it true like Marty says that Final Cut Express 4 will run on El Capitan and Sierra,I have not dared to up grade to them in case my FCE 4 would no longer work for me.

    • Roy:

      Sigh… My apologies. I mis-read Marty’s comment. He says he can run it under those versions of the Mac OS.

      My understanding is that it no longer works. I would definitely NOT recommend trying to run it under High Sierra.

      Larry

  4. Seth says:

    Hi Larry. Thanks for the info. I am currently running Yosemite, but wanted to upgrade to Sierra. Apparently the original Sierra is no longer available. Is it still possible to upgrade Yosemite to El Capitain or original Sierra?

  5. William Hohauser Productions says:

    First off. All legacy Final Cut programs will not work as they are built on 32bit code, that includes all Final Cut Studio programs. If you need these (as I still need DVD Studio Pro) don’t upgrade or keep an older computer un-upgraded (as I am doing).

    Upgrading to High Sierra will be a moderate gamble with older computers. I am not upgrading my newer MacPro for at least a month because of current projects but that’s the one computer I have that I am confident it has been tested already by Apple. Older Macs not so sure. I upgraded my 17″ MacBookPro already (it was a reasonably fast process) and Final Cut Pro X works fine so far but there was one weird event. After upgrading I opened a ProResHQ file sent by a client in QuickTime before importing it into FCPX. QuickTime went to a task bar to “check” the file. I don’t recall seeing this type of task bar before. The bar moved really slowly so I tried to cancel the process which failed so I force quit QuickTime. The file “check” continued even though QuickTime was cancelled as I could see the drive being activated continuously. Final Cut then behaved really strangely so I restarted the computer and everything was OK within FCPX and the client’s file worked fine within Final Cut.

    I upgraded my wife’s newer MacMini on Saturday. It took over 3 hours to finish (as opposed to the hour plus for my MacBookPro, both have HDDs) and it has behaved fine for her but she isn’t using video editing programs, just text, photo and music programs.

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