MacOS High Sierra has been out for a while – your Mac has probably been bugging you to upgrade – and it also went through a long public beta process. Fortunately for us, this means that there are relatively few bugs to worry about. That said, we so want to caution against assuming that upgrading your computer’s OS to High Sierra is necessarily a simple and straightforward experience. While testing the Beta, and running our own upgrades, we ran into some issues…

Luckily for you, there’s no need for you to go through the same experience we did, so we felt it would be helpful to share some useful tips as to some things you should do before upgrading your computer to macOS High Sierra, or really, any new version of MacOS.

  1. Have a Bootable Backup Available
    We cannot overemphasise the need to always have and keep up-to-date backups – in addition to ensuring you don’t lose your files in the case of some sort of catastrophic computer failure, a bootable backup is always a good thing to have, especially given that there will be a big upgrade to a new version of macOS once a year. These are enough reason to ensure your backups are constantly up to date. As an aside, or consolation, for those of you without a bootable backup, there is a bootable section included in your Mac’s recovery partition if you ever get into real strife – you don’t need to worry about this, as your Mac just takes care of it for you, but it’s good to know it’s there if you ever need it.

If, for any reason you encounter problems with your High Sierra upgrade, you might get to the point where the only option left for you is to boot your device from your backup drive in recovery mode, clean your Mac’s boot drive, and then install a fresh version of macOS Sierra or macOS High Sierra onto your Mac’s boot drive.

Some very good backup utilities used in getting your bootable backups good to go include SuperDuper! by Shirt Pocket Software, and Carbon Copy Cloner from Bombich Software. These utilities are worth having, and we highly recommend them. Carbon Copy Cloner has just been upgraded to its new version 5 which provides a new user interface with faster operation – this is also the only backup utility that can help to back up the recovery partition. (See image below)

(Carbon Copy Cloner Version 5’s new user interface.)


2) Make sure macOS 10.12 Sierra Is Up-To-Date
Generally, we would assume you have been regularly updating your Mac each time a new update is made available. If you haven’t, this would be a good time to click on the Mac App Store icon in your dock, hit the update tab and check if you have any updates ready to install. The most recent version, as of writing this at the end of 2017, is 10.12.6. You can confirm the version number of your OS by selecting about this mac from the Apple menu (see image below)

(About This Mac shows that this iMac is running 10.12.6.)

3) Update Your Mac Apps

We should also stress the importance of ensuring your Mac apps are up-to-date. A lot of developers make use of the time between Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference in June and the release of a new version of macOS sometime in September or October, to make sure their device is completely compatible with the new version of the OS.

We know it is a lot more difficult to keep your Mac apps updated than it is your iPhone apps, as result of the fact that not all the apps on your Mac devices were purchased from the Mac App Store – some were purchased directly from the developer’s or a vendor’s websites. Most applications have a built-in way of checking for updates. For example, the popular TextExpander app has a ‘check for update’ item under the TextExpander menu, while some other apps automatically check for updates anytime you start your computer, or the app. Further, there are some apps like Google Chrome that do not check for updates, but rather just update the app automatically anytime an update is available, without you needing to worry about it. If there are any third-party apps that you rely on, it’s worth checking out their websites to see if the developer has released an update to make it compatible with macOS High Sierra, or if there are any known issues.

4) Disable Login/Startup Items before the Upgrade

We usually have apps that we use frequently, as a result we enable them to start up automatically any time we start up/login to our Macs. This is can pose a problem.

When we updated our machines to macOS High Sierra, the computer prompted us to upgrade, we agreed, and the installation process ran fairly well. The only thing that made us suspect something was awry were some pauses that made us wonder if everything was OK. We let the installer do its thing, and were finally able to restart, and login.

It was at this point that things started messing up. We could see our startup items popping up on the display, but after a while two worrying things happened: the screen was obscured by a dark translucency, and we could not make use of the keyboard or mouse.

We then realised this was as a result of a screenshot utility that had installed. The developers of that app have not been updating it consistently, and it was clear that something was happening during login that would start the app in a “full-screenshot mode”, this meant that it greyed out the display, and locked out the keyboard and mouse. Luckily, there is a way to prevent something similar from happening to you.

Some apps have the inbuilt option of starting up at login while others can be found under System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. It is always good to take note of the apps that load automatically during login, and disable them from doing so before doing an upgrade, while leaving those added by Apple. Once you are done with the upgrade you can start adding them back from your notes. This could have saved us some panic!

5) Consider Waiting A Little While before installing macOS High Sierra

One last thing, unless you have a very urgent need to install macOS High Sierra – or any new version of macOS – immediately as it is made available, I would suggest you consider waiting a while, at least for a few days, before you install the update.

Apple usually tests its operating systems thoroughly with both developers and public beta testers, but once in a while an upgrade may sneak through that causes some significant issues for quite a number of users. You’re probably safe by now to install if you want to – just make sure you follow the steps above!

So think carefully before you carry out an upgrade. It is advisable you wait a day or two to check if others are having issues before you go ahead and try it out. If it seems like only a handful of people are having after a few days, then it should be pretty safe to upgrade your Mac.


Have you got any upgrade horror stories, or tips to avoid them? Let us know!