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.
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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