How do I upgrade to macOS Sierra?

Alex Kidman 21 September 2016


Apple’s latest update to macOS is now available to download for qualifying Macs.

Apple has been exceptionally busy of late delivering software updates for pretty much every hardware category it still has products in. Last week it was updating iOS to iOS 10, alongside watchOS3 and tvOS10 and this week it’s the turn of its Macintosh computer line with the release of macOS Sierra. Technically it’s macOS 10.12, but Apple doesn’t identify its operating systems with numbers any more, instead preferring California landmarks.

Can I upgrade to macOS Sierra?

If you purchased your Mac as new this decade, you’re technically eligible to install and run macOS Sierra. Apple advises that the compatibility for its latest OS upgrade runs as follows:

  • MacBook (late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (mid-2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (mid-2010 or newer)
  • iMac (late 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (mid-2010 or newer)

Bear in mind that the older your Mac, the fewer Sierra features it’s likely to support. You may also find that it runs Sierra relatively slowly, although you’re probably running into speed issues with some of those older Macs by now anyway.

How do I upgrade to macOS Sierra?

As with previous recent macOS upgrades, you’ll find the update for macOS Sierra in the Mac app store, quite prominently on the main Featured display screen. Be aware that macOS Sierra is quite a large upgrade: on our test system Apple advised that it was a 4.77GB upgrade, but depending on your Mac’s upgrades that size could vary somewhat. In any case, make sure you’ve got a decent speed fixed line connection to initiate the update before starting, and give yourself plenty of time for the upgrade to actually occur. As with all Apple software upgrades, it would also be wise to have some patience, as its download servers are likely being hammered right now as Mac users try to upgrade.

What’s new in macOS Sierra?

Apple is highlighting the fact that Siri, Apple’s voice assistant is now embedded in macOS, the same way she is in iOS, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of new features. There’s now a universal clipboard for copying and pasting content, app tabs, an updated photo app and a lot of ecosystem optimisation if you already have iOS or watchOS devices, including unlocking your Mac with an Apple Watch and sharing files between macOS Sierra and iOS devices via iCloud Desktop.

Should I upgrade to macOS Sierra?

There’s no one correct answer to that question, but we’d advise a little caution for any business-critical machine, simply because, like all new operating systems, there are bound to be a few quirks and bumps along the way. Operating systems have billions of lines of code and have to interoperate with thousands of third-party applications, some of which may not take to macOS Sierra straight away. Whatever you do, it would be wise to ensure that your Time Machine backup of your Mac is up to date before you commence the upgrade process.

If you do have a Mac capable of running macOS Sierra, it would be sensible to eventually upgrade. Aside from new features, it’s also the OS that Apple’s most likely to issue new security upgrades for on an ongoing basis, which will keep your Mac more secure over the longer term.

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