September 2018 Newsletter
macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra. Let's do this!
We've rolled out macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra on all our Macs and have been testing it extensively. We are now at the point where we are willing to recommend it to everyone for everyday use. Early versions of High Sierra were not great—the initial release was so bad that it literally allowed anyone who knew a simple trick to break into your Mac—but Apple has patched and fixed enough times now that we believe it's good to go.
One caveat: We had a couple of Macs that had difficulty with the High Sierra install. Specifically, the install froze and we had to restart the Macs in the middle of the upgrade. Once restarted, everything proceeded normally, High Sierra finished installing, and they've been working just fine. But it's worth noting because we've not seen any install problems of this nature for a number of years.
Who should upgrade? Everybody who has a Mac that can run High Sierra. Here are the basic steps:
- Make sure you have a current Time Machine backup of your data.
- If you're not in Sentinel+, go to Utilities > Disk Utility and run First Aid to make sure your boot disk is okay. (Sentinel+ Maintenance does this automatically, which is why those users can skip this step.)
- Go to the Mac App Store (Applications > App Store) and click on the macOS High Sierra link under the Quick Links column on the right side. Follow the on screen instructions.
If you are not comfortable upgrading your Mac, you can have us do it for you either at your home or in our office. Contact us at email@example.com
Even if you decide not to upgrade to High Sierra at this time, you should go to the App Store and begin the download process. (Just cancel when it's time to install.) This will mark High Sierra as "purchased" so that it will be available to you when you decide to upgrade later.
macOS 10.14 Mojave is likely to be released in the next month or so. If you do not take the above step, High Sierra will only be available by contacting MacAtoZ and hiring us to install it for you. (We are unlikely to recommend Mojave until at least 10.14.3.)
What's nifty and cool in High Sierra
Now that we're recommending it, let's talk about what's nifty and cool in High Sierra, especially since some of the most noteworthy new features are invisible! These changes are aimed at improving your Mac’s performance. But, don’t worry that there’s nothing new in High Sierra to play with—you’ll find plenty to do in Apple’s apps, and we’ll share our favorite features below.
Apple’s invisible, under-the-hood changes modernize the Mac. The new APFS file system significantly improves how data is stored on your disk. It replaces the HFS+ file system, which literally dates from the previous century. You’ll notice the switch to APFS when you look up the size of a selected folder or duplicate a large file because the operation should run much more quickly. APFS also provides better FileVault encryption and reduces the chance of file corruption. APFS is only activated for Solid State Drives (SSDs); traditional hard drive will continue to use HFS+.
Also new is HEVC, a new video compression standard that will let videos stream better and take up less space on your drive, and HEIF, an image format that boasts significantly better compression to keep photos from overwhelming your drive. HEVC and HEIF have other advantages too, but they’re so embedded into High Sierra (and iOS 11) that all you’ll notice is more space. When you drag images and videos out of Photos, they’ll come out in familiar formats suitable for sharing.
In Photos, it’s now easier to browse your photos from the always-on sidebar on the left side of the window. Photo editing is also more streamlined, with the Edit screen now separated into three tabs: Adjust, Filters, and Crop.
You can now edit Live Photos! Look at the bottom of the Adjust tab for controls for picking any frame as the static “key” frame, trimming the video, and applying special effects. The most interesting effect blurs the Live Photo by turning the 3-second mini-movie into a single long exposure.
Those who are into tweaking photos by hand should check out the new Curves and Selective Color options on the Adjust tab. Or, if you’d prefer that your Mac do the heavy lifting, try the new filters on the Filters tab.
Our favorite new feature is more of a fix—when you train Photos to match faces with names, that training will now sync through iCloud Photo Library to your other Apple devices. (About time!)
Finally, for serious photographers, Apple has at long last brought back round-trip editing of a photo in an external app, like Pixelmator or Photoshop.
A new Websites tab in Safari’s preferences lets you specify Web sites that should always open in Safari’s clutter-reducing Reader View, blocks some ads and auto-play videos, lets you set the zoom level on a per-site basis, and more. We like to tweak these options for the current Web page by choosing Safari > Settings for This Website to open a popover with the necessary controls.
And in the “Thank you, Apple!” category, Safari now offers Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP), which limits advertisers’ cross-site tracking of where you’ve been online. This replaces the need to run a Safari Extension like Ghostery.
Notes now offers a capable Table feature and a handy File > Pin Note command that puts the selected note at the top of its list rather than listing it by order last edited. Neither feature is earth shattering, but we’re enjoying both already.
Behind the scenes, Mail gets a welcome change you probably won’t notice—according to Apple, message storage now takes 35% less space.
More obvious is how Mail revamped its behavior in full-screen view. Instead of the message-composition area overlapping most of the Mail window, the screen splits, and your new message appears at the right. This layout simplifies viewing an older message while drafting a new one.
A fun new FaceTime option is taking a Live Photo of your call. It’s a perfect way to record mini-movies of far-away relatives. If the person you’re chatting with allows Live Photos in FaceTime’s preferences, hover over the FaceTime window to see and then click the round Shutter button.
Spotlight isn’t exactly an app, but it lets you search for anything on or off your Mac. Click the magnifying glass icon at the right of your menu bar—or press Command-Space bar—to start, and then enter your search terms. New in High Sierra, you can enter an airline flight number to see oodles of flight-related info.
High Sierra won’t radically change how you use your Mac, but it offers some nice features.
Apple has announced a Special Event for September 12. We expect to see new iPhones, a new Apple Watch, and perhaps a new Mac or two. If you're considering an Apple purchase, we recommend you wait to see what Apple introduces.
MacAtoZ will be giving this month's presentation at the Salem Macintosh Users Group (SMUG). Company president Ty Davison will be speaking on Security & Privacy as it relates to Apple users. The meeting will be held at Comfort Suites on Hawthorne Ave in Salem, Oregon on Tuesday, September 11. The Q&A session begins at 6:45 PM. Visitors welcome!
As readers of our June newsletter know, my family and I spent the month of July (and some of August) in France. I am happy to report that burning through 20 years of saved air miles was easily worth it. I won't bore anyone with details; suffice to say that for my family it was indeed the trip of a lifetime.
I am very grateful to my colleagues at MacAtoZ, particularly Stephanie, who kept the business humming in my absence and to those of you who had to exhibit more patience than we typically ask of our clients.
As the summer draws to a close, I'm excited get back to helping people with their Apple technology.
Thank you so much.
macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra
. macOS 10.12.6 Sierra is acceptable. Earlier versions should be upgraded ASAP.
. No other versions are acceptable. Any device that can run 11.4.1 should be upgraded to 11.4.1.
. Older versions acceptable if necessary; upgrade if your devices (iPhone and Apple Watch) support it.
. Apple TV models that run tvOS should upgrade to this version. Note that earlier models of Apple TV do not run tvOS and are fine for what they do.
- iMac: iMac10,1 (Late 2009) or newer
- Mac mini: Macmini4,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- Mac Pro: MacPro5,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- MacBook: MacBook6,1 (Late 2009) or newer
- MacBook Air: MacBookAir3,1 (Late 2010) or newer
- MacBook Pro: MacBookPro7,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
These are minimum hardware recommendations based on what is necessary to run a secure operating system.
iPhone and iPad
- iPhone 5S or newer. Older iPhones cannot run iOS 11 which is the only secure version of iOS.
- iPad Air or newer
- iPad mini 2 or newer
- iPad Pro or newer
- iPad 5th generation or newer
The iPad line is made confusing by the multitude of model names and types (Air, mini, Pro, and just plain iPad). Generally speaking, devices introduced in October 2013 and later will run iOS 11. Early devices will not and should be replaced.
- Apple Watch Series 3 is recommended; all versions are secure and acceptable.
- Apple TV 4K is recommended. Apple TV (4th generation) is fine as well.
- Older models of Apple TV do not support tvOS and cannot run Apple TV Store apps, though we are unaware of any major security issues.