Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 is the day that macOS 10.13 High Sierra becomes available to everyone and begins to be installed on newly produced Macs. There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not the upgrade to macOS High Sierra is worthwhile because the marquee feature — APFS (Apple File System) — will only be available on SSD-equipped Macs, while HDD and Fusion Drive Macs won’t automatically be converted to APFS. There are a number of features that should make you consider an upgrade to High Sierra anyway, and we’re here to tell you about them.
Stability and Performance
I’ve been running macOS High Sierra in beta and Golden Master versions for quite a while, and in my opinion it has been one of the more stable macOS releases in a while. My “test Mac” has been a 2017 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, so it converted to APFS during installation. If you’re on a Mac that can be converted to APFS, you’ll love some of the improvements like being able to see the size of a folder’s content instantly.
Thanks to HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) and HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format), photos and videos won’t take up as much space on your Mac with 40 – 50 percent savings in file size. Sharing your photos or videos with others won’t be an issue, as Photos and iMovie handle conversion of the files to larger, but more standard file formats.
iCloud Drive Sharing
For many Mac users, iCloud wasn’t an option to Dropbox for one very big reason — sharing files with others. Now any file or folder in iCloud Drive can be shared with a link that’s sent to those you wish to share with, and once they click the link they have access to the files (see image below). The capability makes iCloud Drive much more useful than before.
One of the features I found most attractive about the upgraded Photos app in macOS High Sierra was the addition of advanced editing tools. The new Curves and Levels tools provide very precise control of colors in your photos, a new Crop tool straightens images automatically, and there’s even a new Markup tool for adding quick annotations to images before sharing. I do a lot of flower photography and found the Selective Color tool to be very useful in terms of saturating blossom colors without changing any other tones in the photos.
The way that the People album is arranged is now a lot more user-friendly, too. The new album uses larger thumbnails that also seem to be more like portraits, whereas in the old Photos they were small square thumbnails that seem to be randomly picked. The People album also seems to be much more accurate in grouping photos together.
Advertisers aren’t happy about it, but Safari 12 now includes “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” which removes the cross-site tracking data that’s stored in cookies when you are looking for something online. Videos will not auto-play on most websites, but if you want them to play it’s possible to enable that capability for specific sites.
As you can see in the screenshot above, one other feature that’s available and quite useful on text-heavy websites is having Safari Reader automatically available for articles that support it. This means that you’ll be able to read some sites with ads, navigation menus, and other distracting items turned off.
Thanks to the ability to view Notes on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, online and on Mac through iCloud syncing, it’s become a go-to app for storing important information. Apple added two features to Notes for macOS High Sierra that are quite useful. First, if there’s a note that is important and you always want to see it at the top of your Notes list, you can “pin it” to the top (see image below):
The pinned items will be at the top of your Notes on any iOS 11 or macOS High Sierra device, but not on older operating systems.
The other new feature? The addition of tables. I found this to be quite useful for creating lists that need to have more than one type of information. You can view and edit tables in Notes on iOS 11 or macOS High Sierra (see image below). Trying to open a note with a table in an earlier operating system provides you with the not-very-helpful “Upgrade macOS to view this table” error message.
While macOS High Sierra doesn’t bring as many changes to the surface of the operating system, there’s a lot that has been done behind the scenes. Metal 2 takes advantage of the GPU in your Mac to bring games to life much more realistically, let machine learning work in background, and support virtual reality playback and creation. Siri becomes even more useful on the Mac, now adding Apple Music integration to help you work or play to a variety of tunes.
If you’re ready to move to the next generation of macOS, be sure to take a look at our tips on preparing for the upgrade.