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Common Problems During and After macOS High Sierra Installation

MacOS High Sierra is finally ready for release. It endured the summer beta program, and is now available through the Mac App Store for anyone to download and install.

(macOS High Sierra’s initial install screen.)

We’re always grateful that new versions of the operating system go through an extensive beta process, but it always seems a few issues will still be lurking, ready to pop up and surprise us.

With that in mind, here are some of the more common problems you may encounter when upgrading to macOS High Sierra.

Note: Before upgrading to any new or updated operating system, it’s a good idea to have a current backup in place.

Upgrading From the Beta
If you’re a beta tester, you may have a slightly more difficult time upgrading than the rest of us; it all depends on whether you installed the new APFS (Apple File System) during the beta testing. Apple backed away from its original goal of having APFS ready to go for all Mac configurations. Instead, it’s releasing macOS High Sierra with APFS only for Macs using SSDs (Solid State Drives). If you converted a Fusion drive during the beta, it needs to be reverted to HFS+ before you can install macOS High Sierra.

Unfortunately, Apple isn’t providing any tools to revert the file system. Instead, you’re required to back up your current data with Time Machine, erase and reformat the affected drive(s), install macOS High Sierra, and then migrate your backed up data to the fresh install.

Apple includes instructions for the process, specifically using Time Machine as the backup app. It seems you should also be able to perform this task by creating a clone using Carbon Copy Cloner or one of the other popular cloning tools. Nevertheless, even if you decide to create a clone, we highly recommend you also create a Time Machine backup, especially if the clone is the only copy of your data you will have.

You’ll need a drive partitioned as HFS+ for the Time Machine backup. This can be an existing Time Machine drive as long as it’s formatted as HFS+. You’ll also need to create a bootable macOS High Sierra installer; a 16 GB or larger USB flash drive or an external drive can serve this purpose.

Warning: The process of creating the bootable installer will erase the contents of the selected drive volume.

Apple has posted instructions in its support area for Preparing Your Fusion Drive Mac for the macOS High Sierra Install. It covers two methods for converting a Fusion Drive back to HFS+ and installing macOS High Sierra. The instructions are a bit sparse, but should be sufficient for getting the job done. If you have any questions regarding the process, be sure to post them in the Comments section below.

Downloading macOS High Sierra From the Mac App Store Stalls
The process of downloading High Sierra from the Mac App Store should be an easy one, but a few of us have run into a problem where the download seems to fail to start, or freezes if it does begin.

(If your download of macOS High Sierra seems to stall you may need to restart the Mac App Store.)

In both cases, patience may be the best course of action. But if after a reasonable amount of time, say 15 minutes to half an hour, there’s been no change, then it’s time for action.

Open your web browser to any page; the idea is just to verify that your Internet connection is working. If you’re having network issues, they need to be addressed before continuing.

Quit the Mac App Store. If it fails to respond to the quit command, force quit by selecting Force Quit from the Apple menu. In the Force Quit Applications window that opens, select App Store, and then click the Force Quit button. You’ll be asked if you really want to force quit the App Store; click the Force Quit button.

Once the Mac App Store finally quits, go ahead and restart the store. Select macOS High Sierra and start the download again. If you still have problems, quit the Mac App Store (using force quit, if needed), and then restart your Mac.

Return to the Mac App Store and try again.

Freeze During Installation
After you start the macOS High Sierra installation process, you may notice that your Mac’s screen has gone black, and nothing seems to be happening. The likely culprit is that your Mac has frozen during the restart process. The installation process copies needed files to the destination drive, including a minimum boot environment. Once everything is in place, your Mac should restart and finish the install process. If you’re stuck at the black screen, you should wait for a reasonable amount of time; no more than half an hour. If your Mac doesn’t finish the restart by then, go ahead and manually shut your Mac down by pressing and holding the power button.

(The installation of macOS High Sierra can stall on a totally black screen, or one with the status bar showing. Either way, be patient before forcing a restart.)

Once your Mac has shut down, you can restart it. Chances are your Mac will restart and pick up by displaying the Setup Assistant, ready to finish the install process.

If you still find yourself stuck, try shutting down again, but this time restart your Mac in Safe Mode. Once the desktop shows up, disable any startup items you may have set up, as well as any anti-virus apps you may have, and then restart your Mac. You’ll need to restart the macOS High Sierra installation process again.

If you’re still unable to resolve the problem, try booting up in Recovery Mode and using the Disk Utility option to check and repair your startup drive. Once your drive has a clean bill of health, use the Reinstall macOS option to ensure the startup drive’s operating system is intact. Once you return to the desktop, you can restart the install process.

Slow Performance After Install
Some temporary performance issues can be attributed to spotlight indexing that may be running; after all, there’s a lot of new data on the drive that needs to be catalogued. Time Machine can also become active soon after an install and slow things down a bit.

Waiting a short time will likely see the slowness clear itself up with no intervention on your part. Should the slowness continue, you can try the tips outlined in Tech 101: How to Clear Cache and Temp Files.

Wi-Fi Issues
When macOS Sierra was released we saw quite a few Wi-Fi-related issues, which we address in the guide: Common Problems After Installing macOS Sierra.

Thankfully, at least so far, we’re not seeing a repeat of major Wi-Fi issues. But that’s not to say there aren’t at least a few of them. During the beta, there was a recurring problem with connecting to a personal hotspot, such as one provided by an iPhone. The solution was simple enough: just turn Wi-Fi off and back on again, the ultimate IT solution for most problems.

(Turning Wi-Fi off and then on again can restore a connection that doesn’t work after installing High Sierra.)

To turn Wi-Fi off, select Turn Wi-Fi Off from the Wi-Fi status icon in the menu bar.

To turn Wi-Fi back on, select Turn Wi-Fi On from the Wi-Fi status icon.

If you don’t see the Wi-Fi status icon in your menu bar, launch System Preferences from your Dock or Apple menu, and select the Network preference pane.

Place a check mark in the Show Wi-Fi Status in Menu Bar box.

Apps Not Working
Unfortunately, it’s the nature of progress that some apps get left behind when operating systems are updated. If you have an app that has stopped working under macOS High Sierra, you should check with the developer to see if any updates have been released, or will be released.

You can also check with RoaringApps, a site that gathers information about which apps work with what version of the Mac operating system.

(Sometimes an app may fail to complete launching, or behave strangely when a new version of the macOS is released.)

If you believe the app that you’re having problems with should work with macOS High Sierra, you can try deleting the app’s cache files. Here’s how to do that:

Quit the app in question, if it’s currently running.

Open a Finder window or click on the desktop to ensure the Finder is the front most application.

From the Finder’s Go menu, select Go to Folder.

In the sheet that opens, enter the following: ~/Library/Caches

From the Finder window that opens, find the folder whose title includes the name of the app you’re having issues with.

Open the app’s cache folder, and delete any items within it.

Reset the PRAM/NVRAM, and then launch the app in question.

With any luck, the app should now be able to launch and work correctly.

Additional Rocket Yard Reading

Stay tuned for problems you might have installing the new macOS Mojave. 

Tom Nelson
the authorTom Nelson
Tom has been an enthusiastic Mac user since the Mac Plus. He’s also been known to dabble in the dark side, otherwise known as Windows, and has a well-deserved reputation for being able to explain almost anything to anybody. Tom’s background includes more than 30 years as an engineer, programmer, network manager, software tester, software reviewer, database designer, and computer network and systems designer. His online experience includes working as a sysop, forum leader, writer, and software library manager.
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  • Hi
    I’m an old user 70yrs but ive used a lot of macs
    I have an imac using High Sierra 10.13.6 its the last machine my pension will afford me so it has to do. I have not been able to use my photos as screen saver. My sys prefs desktop/screen saver app will give me a source menu to select from. under the desktop heading i cannot get my photos selected either. Is it that this high sierra version just wont do it or is it me. Never tried to do this before but i’m under pressure from grand kids to have their mugs on my screen.
    Really appreciate any help.
    Kinb regards Rick
    PS Stay safe

    • In High Sierra you should be able to select one of your photos for uses as the desktop background.

      Open System Preferences and select the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane.

      Click the Desktop tab.

      In the sidebar, you will see various items already present, including Apple supplied images, Access to images you have stored within iPhotos, as well as possibly a few more categories. You may also see a Folder item, where any folder you select will be added to the sidebar.

      To add a folder that contains pictures you wish to use on the Desktop, click the Plus (+) button at the bottom of the sidebar.

      Navigate to the folder you wish to add, then click the Choose button.

      The folder will be added to the sidebar.

      Once the folder appears in the sidebar, you can select the folder from the sidebar and all the pictures within will appear in the pane to the right of the sidebar.

      You can now pick the image you wish to use.


  • Good morning! I have an issue, when I am using my MacBook Pro 2018 for several hours, which runs MacOs High Sierra, it starts itself opening all kinds of apps, system configurations, etc. Can anyone help me how to figure out this annoying issue? Thank you in advance!

  • The following fundamental reason for your printer not taking Guide to Diagnose HP Printer Problems order is because of past print traffic, alluded to as “Print line”. Try to check any past stuck printing solicitations and clear them if any to proceed with more current solicitations. Pursue the beneath offered method to clear the print line.

  • I am intstalling mac0S high sierra but it keeps on saying “the file couldn’t be opened because isnt in the correct format ” when left two minutes

  • I have MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012). After updating to High Sierra Version 10.13.6 (17G5019), I can not open Disk Utility. I receive the following:
    “Disk Utility cannot be opened because of a problem. Check with the developer to make sure Disk Utility works with this version of macOS…”.
    Reinstalling High Sierra, twice, has not solved this issue.
    A lesser issue is I cannot set the time (to 5 minutes ahead of real time, as I previously could with older OSs), and instead have to use the time as determined by the internet; reinstalling has not helped this either.

  • I have installed the Mac Sierra software and afte the installation I managed to log in with my password and it won’t show start up and icons on the screen. It doesn’t show anything not even the battery life or percentage. It’s a MacBook pro 15inch mid 2010 model. I was using OsX Yosemite before I can install the new Sierra MacOs

  • I’m running a mid-2012 MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and 750GB HD still less than half-full. I recently updated from Sierra to High Sierra without any immediately obvious problems. My usual software runs okay. But now it’s impossible to access the second user account used occasionally by my son. Trying to log in with the same password sets up a rotating image which never ends, and since there is no way offered to step back from this situation, the only option is to restart the computer. I’ve tried changing the account from Standard to Admin and I’ve changed its password – after each change rebooting the computer (which has become very, very slow, by the way). Nothing helps and trying to log into the second account continues to lock up the computer completely. Any suggestions how to remedy this situation? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

    • Try a safe boot (hold down shift right after power-on, until you see the apple, and also hold down shift right before clicking the right-arrow on your son’s password). It could be your son’s account has some startup program that is incompatible with High Sierra. This may allow you to log in, find it, and remove it.

  • When I try to use volume control keys my screen slides right to reveal dashboard screen. Second press on key returns original screen. I can use volume control on menu bar but this is not so convenient. Any fixes for this?
    Bob W.

  • My Mac is stuck in a loop. I have put in passwords off and off for the same questions for several days. Now it is again stuck asking if I want to save my passwords on this Mac. However the place to click is grayed out. This is the worst ever.

  • High Sierra created a Fusion Drive on my Mac Mini (hard drive and SSD Drive) during installation. Had to format the drive and perfom a Time Machine Backup on both drives. Genius Bar was stunned. This happen to anyone else?

  • I can no longer save items to folders on desktop. I also cannot move items or folders to trash. Unlocking the folders does not solve the problem. Changing permissions does not help. Running first aid did not help. I am logged in as myself.

  • Same for me @ George smith, I upgraded to high sierra and I think they must have been ‘high’ when they made it because after a time or two booting my computer it went to black screen and had to get a new os put on unfortunately they put the same one back in because of miscommunication and it happened again! It’s really a shame but I’m stuck with El Capitan at the moment until I can work out if this bug has been fixed or not. I don’t want to risk shelling out more money because Apple have gone down the drain.

  • I can hardly believe Apple has become Microsoft – buggy, difficult to fix software, that leaves your machine hanging. It used to be that Mac just worked – straight out of the box with minimum initial configuration. Now I am plagued by problems from the get-go: my new MacBook Pro started with a black screen out of the box. It gave me only voice prompts that are normally only for visually impaired people. After I great struggle I set it up. Then the upgrade to 10.13.4 could not complete on its own and forced me into reading multiple blogs with potential solutions posted by people who experienced the exact same problem. Finally, I managed to complete the upgrade. The the sleep issues started – if the machine goes to sleep for a long period of time (more than 2 hours), when you try to wake it, it just displays a black screen (the keyboard lights up and responds to command). This forces me to initiate a cold reboot every time. So, people from Apple, how long have been making computers and is this acceptable for the most expensive company in the world who prides itself on QUALITY!?
    My next laptop will be HP. You are fortunate that my company is paying for this machine, otherwise I would have long returned it to you.

    • I have an iMac 27″ mid-2010 on my bench right now that came in with a black screen problem on High Sierra. The machine is RUNNING, it just has a black screen. Attaching an external display gets you a perfectly good screen. I ended up sapping the PRAM, and it fixed the problem. Then I booted it on an external pack I had that was running the same version of High Sierra. It worked fine until I tried to run the online updates for iTunes 12.8 and HS 10.13.6. Near the end of the iTunes update, the main screen went black again (in fact it’s in that state right now — I’m using the external display to type this). Curiously, when I got this Mac from the owner, only the 10.13.6 update was pending. Now I’m wondering if it’s iTunes 12.8 that bricks the screen somehow. I guess I’ll know when this update completes.

      • False alarm. Unit also blackscreens when booted on El Cap, and zapping the PRAM in all cases reduces the problem significantly but does not entirely remove it. Pretty sure it’s an obscure hardware issue in this unit. In any event, sleeping and waking the machine reactivates the display, so not worth invasive surgery.

  • I couldn’t even put my computer to sleep from the Apple menu after installing High Sierra a few days ago. It always logged me out instead and stayed awake. Using Excel with it was another problem, and a lot of my Excel files were corrupted. Needles to say I rolled back my OS swiftly, but I thought I noticed inconsistent behavior when it came to asking for the master password before unlocking my Safari passwords. My computer is 2012 model and you think after the amount of time High Sierra has been out that I wouldn’t have such an obvious problem as not being able to sleep my computer from the Apple menu.