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macOS 101: What High Sierra Broke and How to Fix It

It’s almost become a tradition; one that we wish we didn’t have to put up with. It seems with each new version of the Mac operating system, there are some features that just don’t seem to work the way they used to. The tradition lives on with macOS High Sierra, so we’re gathering a list of what High Sierra broke and how to fix it (when you can).

Drive Encryption Can Change Formatting
Encrypting an entire drive to add a level of security has been an easy task in the Mac OS ever since FileVault 2 was released as part of OS X Lion. Full disk encryption has been a boon for Mac users who worry about their personal data being easily accessible on their Macs or external drives. This is especially true for portable Mac users, who need to worry about their Macs being lost or stolen.

macOS High Sierra continues to support full disk encryption, but Mike Bombich, who created Carbon Copy Cloner, has verified a bug in High Sierra that will cause an external drive to have its format changed from HFS+ to APFS when the drive is encrypted in High Sierra.

Enabling encryption on a drive should not alter the underlying drive format. If the drive was HFS+ (Hierarchical File System) before you chose to encrypt it, it should remain an HFS+ drive afterwards. The same is true for APFS (Apple File System) formatted drives; choosing the encryption option shouldn’t change the APFS format of the drive.

Related: A Note On High Sierra Compatibility with Third Party SSDs

(Encrypting an external drive can lead to the drive being converted to an APFS volume.)

Under certain conditions, encrypting a drive will modify the format to APFS without the user being aware of the changes.

The specific conditions are:

  • Must be an external drive
  • Must not have a Mac operating system installed on the drive

If these two conditions are met, and you select the option to encrypt the drive, by right-clicking the drive icon and selecting Encrypt from the popup menu, the drive will be converted to APFS format and then encrypted.

Even though the drive has been converted to APFS and encrypted, it will continue to work just fine with your Mac running macOS High Sierra. The problem comes about should you ever connect the drive to a Mac running an earlier version of the Mac operating system, or if you boot your Mac to an earlier version of the OS. In either case, the external drive won’t be recognizable by the older operating system.

Our recommendation is not to encrypt your external drive, unless converting to APFS is acceptable to you, and you have no plans to use the drive with earlier versions of the Mac operating system.

Being Logged Out Randomly
If you find yourself occasionally being logged out of your Mac after you upgraded to macOS High Sierra, you can stop worrying; your Mac isn’t possessed. Instead, the upgrade process may have enabled two security options that you may not have been using before.

(If you’re being logged out from time to time, it may be because the Log out option, shown above, has been set during the installation of macOS High Sierra.)

To correct the phantom logouts, launch System Preferences, either by clicking on its Dock icon, or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

In the System Preferences window, select the Security & Privacy preference pane.

From the Security & Privacy preference pane, click the Lock icon and enter your administrator credentials. Once the padlock is unlocked, click on the Advanced button.

Either remove the checkmark from “Log out after xx minutes of inactivity” or set the time frame to a longer period to meet your needs. Click the OK button when done.

The second security issue that may be causing the problem is also located in the Security & Privacy preference pane. Select the General tab.

The item: “Require password xx minutes after sleep or screen saver begins” may also be checked. You can remove the checkmark, or modify the amount of time that needs to pass before the screen saver kicks in to better fit your needs. My own preference is to leave this security feature in place, and just adjust the time as needed.

While you’re at it, you may want to jump over to the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane to adjust the time for when the screen saver starts up.

(Be sure to check the General tab of the Security & Privacy preferences for password requirements to wake from sleep. These may have also been changed during the install.)

Select the Screen Saver tab, then use the Start after: dropdown menu to select how much inactive time needs to elapse before the screen saver starts

High Sierra Battery Life is Poor
Another issue that seems to be common is portable Mac battery life being adversely affected after an upgrade to High Sierra. So far, it seems that macOS High Sierra isn’t the culprit; instead, there are a few apps that may need to be updated to make better use of the battery.

Launch Activity Monitor, located at /Applications/ Utilities.

In the Activity Monitor window, select the Energy tab.

(Activity Monitor’s Energy tab can help you find apps gulping down the power from your battery.)

In the resulting display, look for apps that are marked as preventing sleep, or are listed as having a high energy impact. Contact the app developer to see if there are updates available for the app to make it perform better with macOS High Sierra.

Unable to Wake From Sleep
I’m not sure what it is about sleep, but the Mac seems to always have issues with sleep after a system upgrade. There have been reports of Macs not being able to wake from sleep after upgrading to High Sierra.

Unrelated, but with the same solution, is a flickering of the display, especially when the Safari browser is open.

You can fix both issues by resetting the NVRAM and then resetting the SMC.

You can find detailed instructions on how to perform these resets in the article:

How to Reset NVRAM, PRAM, SMC on your Mac.

Office 2011 Crashes
If you’re using Office 2011 for the Mac with macOS High Sierra, you’re not having any issues, you’re having occasional crashes, or Office simply refuses to launch at all.

That about covers most of the possibilities. The problem is Microsoft decided not to support Office 11 under macOS High Sierra, meaning they haven’t tested the apps nor are they going to offer any updates to correct any issues. Essentially, Office 2011 is on its own. If it works for you, wonderful, but if you have any issues, it may be time to consider a replacement.

Of course, software apps do get old, and Office 11 has been around for a long time, in software years. If you have a specific need for Microsoft Office, the Office 2016 for Mac version works fine and is fully supported under macOS High Sierra.

If you just need a Word or Excel work-alike that you can use to share files with others, there are a few options available. If you have a suggestion that you know works with High Sierra, please leave a note in the Comments, below.

Mail Stops Notifying You of New Mail

Have you noticed that Mail is no longer alerting you of new incoming messages via the Notifications center? If you’re used to seeing a banner pop up in the top right corner of your Mac’s display with a brief description of a new piece of mail whenever new mail arrives, you may have noticed the banners stopped once you installed High Sierra.

This bug doesn’t seem to affect everyone, but it happens often enough that Apple should be able to fix the issue in a subsequent update of High Sierra.

But you don’t need to wait for Apple; you can fix the issue yourself by opening System Preferences and selecting Notifications.

Highlight Mail in the Notifications window sidebar, and then select None as the Mail alert style. Wait a moment, then set the notifications style back to Banners or Alerts, whichever you prefer.

Close the Notifications preference pane.

(The Notifications center may need its mail handling alert style reset to work properly after installing High Sierra.)

Launch Mail if it isn’t already running. Mail notifications should now work correctly.

Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator Issues
Adobe Photoshop has a minor issue with High Sierra that prevents the Photoshop window from expanding to full screen whenever the Dock is shown.

Adobe has created a Photoshop plug-in file that can rectify the problem. You’ll find instructions on how to download and install the plug-in at the Adobe Help website.

Adobe Illustrator is experiencing some issues with High Sierra; specifically, the licensing system seems to be broken when the startup drive uses the APFS file system. The result is Illustrator may not launch, or there will be an error message about license problems.

Adobe recommends not upgrading to High Sierra, or not converting to the APFS file system at this time.

There’s an additional issue with Illustrator on macOS High Sierra that results in the wrong color settings being applied; specifically, Emulate Adobe Illustrator 6 becomes the default color setting and is applied to any document you open or new document you create.

The workaround is to manually change the color settings before working with any document.

Select Edit, Color Settings, and then choose the desired settings for the document.

Click OK.

Open the document you wish to work on.

You’ll need to repeat these steps each time you launch Illustrator, or before you open a document that uses a different color space.

Other High Sierra Problems and Fixes
macOS High Sierra is still relatively new, and I suspect there will be quite a few additional issues that will crop up. If you encounter any problems with using High Sierra, please feel free to share with our readers by leaving a comment.

If you’re having High Sierra install issues, you can leave a comment in the Rocket Yard guide: Common Problems During and After macOS High Sierra Installation.

[Update] Stay tuned for issues that you might encounter when running macOS Mojave.

Tom Nelson
the authorTom Nelson
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  • I have been using an app called Document Writer which emulates microsoft word. Now all of my files are XWD and I have no way of opening them….that I’ve found so far

    • Mike: I am a former applications teacher and when I switched to MacBook Pro on year ago I went nuts with PageMaker, Document Writer and Office Libre which used to her based on Open Office and Star Office. I use a lot of Word and Excel. I bought the bullet and purchased MS Office 365 for Mac and never looked back. For $99 a year I can download on up to 5 computers or laptops, up to 5 tablets or Apple Minis, up to 5 iPhones or other devices. Takes care of a lot of devices in my household. While the MS Office knockoffs do have some good features nothing beats genuine MS Office. In trying other products I lost saved files, had PDF problems, setup problems, printing problems, saving and save as problems, and finding files. $99 a year saved my sanity, production abilities, and marriage!!!!! Cheap for all its good. Love it and I don’t have to put up with Win 8, 10 or any MS OS.

  • Quick Looking multiple page PDF is now in continuous mode. I prefer single page mode, but can’t set it. Previously in Sierra one little scroll jumped to the next page of the PDF, now it scrolls continuously. It is anoying, I would like to set it back as it was in Sierra. Is there a way for this?

  • A small issue, but one that I find annoying. Since I installed High Sierra (ver. 10.13.2) on my mid-2012 MacBook Air in January 2018, Mail has stopped putting the subject line content at the top of each compose window. I frequently prepare a number of emails and line them up before sending them. I used to be able to see the subject of each very easily when they were lined up, one under the other, with just the top bit of each window showing. Now, because there’s no subject shown at the top of each window, it’s a series of identical window-tops. (Don’t know if I explained that very well. Sorry.)

  • Can I block new cookies, while still keeping my existing cookies? (I was able to do that using Yosemite.) With High Sierra, if I check “Block Cookies,” a message comes up saying that all existing cookies will be deleted!

  • Regarding “Unable to Wake From Sleep”, none of the proposed “solutions” worked for me. I spent a week working on it. It is a horrible horrible bug.

    • I was having a lot of wake from sleep issues after upgrading to HS. One thing that helped somewhat was disabling “Power Nap” in the Energy Saver system preferences. It helped but the thing that really helped it and a bunch of other problems war running Disk Warrior on the start up drive. I was getting the beach ball from hell a lot and monitor issues as well (I’m running 2). Things smoothed out after that.

  • Wow and double Wow! Am I glad I didn’t upgrade my work machine to High Sierra. This is looking more and more like the disaster that was OS X 10.10 Yosemite. I have macOS 10.12.x on an external drive for testing purposes but I haven’t installed most of my apps on it. Mostly just utility programs.

    The best solution to any of these issues, of course, is to restore your previous operating system. Sierra is free of most such problems. El Capitan is even better.

    As for those stuck with High Sierra, I suppose you’ve never heard of backing up your system before a major procedure like a system upgrade. Or you are a newcomer to the Mac and you don’t know how problematic an Apple upgrade can be so you didn’t take precautions. You trust Apple to do no wrong, right? Wrong.

    As Adobe’s recommendation not to upgrade to the APFS file system, if you’re boot drive is on an SSD you simply have no choice (outside of a very tricky work around). Adobe has always had problems with licensing, so this is nothing new. If you expect them to fix the issue, don’t hold your breath. Likewise their advice not to upgrade to High Sierra is pretty useless if you didn’t find out about the problem with Illustrator until after you upgraded.

    Apple and Adobe tie for the stupid is as stupid does award for 2017. Sadly, moving to a better platform is not a viable option for most people. There simply is no better platform. We are trolling the bottom of the barrel here.

    In the meantime, I will save this article for future reference. Thanks for the warnings.

  • Hi, my mail notifications are no longer working. I only hear the sound. I have tried the method outlined above and also in safe mode but still doesn’t work. Anything else I can try ?

  • I change my screensaver to Shifting Tiles or iTunes Artwork and it reverts to ‘Flurry’. it is a classic, but not what I want.

  • When I open Microsoft Word, instead of a new document I get something called a Template.If I write something and save it on the template, it disappears and cannot be brought back with an accurate search.If I do new document OVER the template, I get a new document which is searchable after I save it.

  • Even the the “Stay logged in for two weeks” box is checked, it won’t stay logged in to iCloud. I have to log in every time I open it. This started after upgrading to High Sierra.

  • My siri doesn’t work when I ask, it only works if I type a question. Also, I have no sound in google chrome and firefox. If anybody could help me I would appreciate it!

  • I no longer get an accurate free space reading after latest update. I reinstalled the OS, which fixed it for a while, but after a while again still indicates 100gb less than I know should be available. Thank you for any advice.

  • Office 2011 Word now no longer works properly on my iMac after upgrading to High Sierra. Typing sticks, its slow, colour wheels everywhere. Office 2011 Word will work if I reboot the whole machine but if you quit Word the problem arises. I wish I had never upgraded to High Sierra. Not being able to type documents properly takes me back to the early 70s. Maybe High Sierra is a retro software product. Lots of features but the main functions like typing a document seems beyond Apple

    • Microsoft word keeps crashing. and I have to force quit and re open. I am hitting save as often as possible as it happens many times.

  • I upgraded and now my Word 2016 isn’t working. I’m a transcriptionist and had a TON of autotext that is gone. I completely uninstalled Office 2016 and reinstalled it. The next day, the same issue happened: “word cannot open the existing global template (normal.dotm).”

  • TextEdit seems to suddenly have a limit to the size of its files. You get to a point and you can no longer see any more of the file. Only fix I’ve found is to make the font size much smaller or break the file up into multiple parts. Annoying!!

    • I had a super long textedit file, a chronological listing of bill payments over about 12 years, that was stopping halfway through after I updated to High Sierra. I thought High Sierra had replaced my file with a 6-year-old version so I called Apple phone support. While I was on hold I saw your comment here while googling the problem, and I tried shrinking the text size like you suggested. That solved the problem, so thanks for that. The new textedit apparently has a limit on the physical length of the file.

    • I found the same problem. Opens in Notes, and almost any other program in full.
      My workaround was to go to the end of the document, put the cursor there and enter the return key. The rest of the document then showed OK. Really annoying and a huge waste of time sorting it out.

  • If you need an Office alternative, LibreOffice works well on my High Sierra machine. I actually prefer it over Microsoft Office.

  • After updating both my iMac and MacBook Pro to High Sierra version 10.13.1 (17B1003)
    my “pushover notifications” no longer has Badges and Sound notification options anymore.
    I have removed from Safari notifications and rebooted both systems server times per their FAQ page to no avail.

  • After upgrading, my Mail, Messages, Photos, and App Store, and iTunes are all showing up as a blank application icon. It won’t allow me to change the icon, and when I view the icon in ‘Get Info’ it shows the correct icon, which means it just isn’t displaying correctly. My doc is extremely hard to work with because half of my applications now have the exact same icon. (This occurred upon the first restart after installing, and after four restarts is still a recurring issue.)

  • Has anybody seen an issue where their Mac won’t stay asleep? My late 2011 iMac never had an issue until I installed High Sierra, but now, It wakes up in the middle of the night when it never did before. Every night.

    I have checked all the settings and don’t see anything that changed. In all fairness, though, I did recently go to the new wireless Mac keyboard, so I have to leave on the switch that allows Bluetooth to wake the machine, since all my input devices are now Bluetooth-connected.

  • After installing High Sierra, I found that a lot of the font formatting was stripped out of my Excel 2011 spreadsheets. Fonts appeared as some generic font like Geneva, no formatting as in bold, even the column sizes changed. I guess Office 2011 is over if you want to use High Sierra.

  • I encountered a variety of the autologoff problem after I “upgraded” to High Sierra” today. My old beloved defcon screen saver initiated the log off. I changed to an Apple screen saver and the problem disappeared.

  • High Sierra has changed my dock to my least favorite color: orange. When I used “Dark Menu Bar and Dock”, it changed to my second least favorite color: diarrhea brown…. What can I do?

  • I’ve found that my Microsoft Mouse (Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 6000) button programming doesn’t work with HS. I’ve reloaded the Intellimouse driver and programming the right button to double click has no effect.

  • hi, and thanks for the notes. i installed HS on a late 2009 iMac, now the system preferences doesn’t open. i just get a window for iCloud when I push click on SP. And also the guest user login is not present.
    Thanks for any tips.

  • Oh, Adobe — always at the trailing edge. Too bad nobody gave them access to a beta of High Sierra so these issues could’ve been prevented.

    • OMG – don’t even get me started on HUGE, whiny
      companies who can’t be BOTHERED to revise their crappy code to work on the latest macOS – Adobe is just, but they have done it ever since OS 7.x

  • I’ve noticed two persistent issues. I have multiple mail account connections to Office365. About every 3 days those accounts are renamed to “Exchange”, at the same time; making it difficult to use email safely.

    The second issue is the fact that Safari will no longer allow me to access websites with self-signed certificates, even after accepting the site’s certificate. (Please don’t post that they’re not safe sites, they are administrative sites for network appliances.). I now use Chrome (blech) for this sort of work.

  • After High Sierra, my MAIL app will not maintain its VIEW preferences. While in Mail it will shift from my preferred classical view to the alternate; resetting at will a totally different set of preferences. I change them back, and minutes later, they change again.

    • I’m helping a non-techie friend who uses a mid-2013 MacBook Air and has had the same problem in Mail (along with random freezes that require forced shutdown of the Mac). After lots of trouble-shooting, including resetting SMC and PRAM, we finally erased the SSD, reinstalled High Sierra, and migrated settings and data from Time Machine backup. So far she’s not had another random freeze in Mail, but the unexpected shifting out of classical view continues to happen.

  • Using a wired USB Apple keyboard and mouse.
    I use the “sleep” command from the Apple menu when I go to bed.
    The next morning pressing a key on the keyboard or pressing the mouse does not wake the iMac (2017).
    Must now press the power button switch on the back of the iMac to wake it up.
    Earlier versions of OS X/macOS woke up when when USB keyboard or mouse depressed and I prefer the old behavior.

    • Started having this problem before upgrading to High Sierra. If I leave my computer on for a couple of days it happens.

  • I’ve been mysteriously logged out with High Sierra; I had already unchecked the “log out after” so many minutes box. Very irritating.

  • Is my memory correct? Is Office 2016 not the version where the software is resident online and not on your computer – requires a constant online connection?

      • You are correct, but also not correct, Gene. The fact is, MS has not completely got away from a locally installed Office platform with 365. There is an Office 2016 installer for Mac that has most of the same features as 2011, if not more.

        The difference is, you have a choice to pay yearly for office 365 to get the cloud storage sync or just a serial number for a one-time fee.

  • Incredible that Apple is so out of touch with it’s base users that they keep releasing bug plagued software. Again, I’d like to see them put out an OS that is stripped of all of the social networking crap and stick to one that works – especially those of us who work in the graphics industry. Like Snow Leopard did. I realize that everyone’s hardware configurations are different and some software can be troublesome but, really?? Who’d upgrade to this??

  • High Sierra erased the Contacts folder. Had to manually rebuild. This process worked for a while. Now new contacts will disappear during the add process. What remains is a “No Name” file for each attempted additional entry.

  • Excellent! We users need more problems to fixes like this. With every OS update find them put them into a small book and sell them at e-books on Apple, Kindle etc.

  • under preference/privacy, a choice is given to not accept cookies. It then goes on to say the existing cookies will be deleted.
    Should there not be an option to earmark certain cookies that user doesn’t wanted removed, such as for his banking log in etc

  • Hi,
    I’d set up Mail to alert me with a custom sound Ship Bell.aif) but with High Sierra it’s stopped working and seems to have disappeared!!

    How and where exactly should I add my lovely .aif?
    I’ve tried pasting it into Library/Application Support/Audio/Sounds/Alerts as well as simply Library/Sounds.
    In the latter, there are a few other custom sounds and these are working fine, but pasting my Ship Bell.aif there doesn’t seem to do the trick.
    Also what are the gmail settings now for High Sierra as I’m also having trouble and it’s very slow.

    Any suggestions Please?


  • “If you just need a Word or Excel work-alike that you can use to share files with others, there are a few options available. If you have a suggestion that you know works with High Sierra, please leave a note in the Comments, below.”

    Ever since I realized that Pages read and wrote Word-format files, and Numbers did the same for Excel, I’ve avoided all use of Office. (I’ve never used any of the bloat-level features of Word or Excel.) If all I want to do is read an Office file, I just use the Finder’s “spacebar” command to preview it, which works even when no Office is installed.

  • There a multiple issues with Mac’s using Active Directory. For example Touch ID is not supported for Macs using AD mobile accounts.

  • I can no longer select a refresh rate greater than 60 Hz for my BenQ XL2420T monitor under High Sierra. Under Sierra and earlier I could use up to 120 Hz.

  • LibreOffice 5 works just fine. Just set the Preferences to save all relevant components in MS format, and all is well


  • I installed High Sierra, now when I startup I only have 6 to 7 GB of RAM available. Before upgrade I easily had 13 to 14 GB of RAM available. What could be the cause of this drastic reduction?

    • Stop worrying about “free RAM available” – that’s an ancient concept.

      Modern operating systems manage your memory for you and will compress and move things around as needed as memory is required.

      • Sorry, that is not entirely correct. A clean boot should show all but 2-4gb as available. As you use various browsers and programs the memory available will drop and then go back up when those programs are closed as the memory is released. Programs that have memory leaks ( Firefox and Safari mainly ) will use memory as time goes on and due to bad programming, will not release it when the program is closed. It is alway good to reboot the machine after a month or so to clear up the memory leaks that leave memory in limbo.( the area the data resides in memory loses the pointer that would normally clear it when the program shuts down ) When the ram does go down to <1gb available, many times it causes lockup, slow downs, or the machine will simply reboot on its own.
        Chris, IT for 27 years and programmer

        • That shouldn’t be the way any modern operating system should work and in my experience is rarely the case with macOS and is never the case with other UNIX-based operating systems like Linux or Solaris.

          Instead, data should be retained in file caches such that most of RAM is actually in use and is only freed when they system requires it.

    • Using High Sierra 10.13.1 Beta (17B25c) released a week after High Sierra 10.13 and it seems to address that problem and snapshot management very well. Much more stable and I suspect Apple will hold out for as much feedback as possible before releasing an updated version in the App Store.

    • How much ram does your machine have ? Prior OS’s use 1 to 3 Gb when freshly booted depending on background tasks set to start when you start your machine. If you have 24gb and it used to show 16gb free and now only shows 6-8Gb free then something is wrong or a program may be using that ram for indexing purposes or some other reason. After you run 10.13 for a while ( to let these processes finish ) does the ram change ? Go into “activity monitor” in “utilities” and click on the ram button and then at the top make the highest used show at the top. ( the up/down arrow right above Memory ) and it will show what processes/programs are using the most ram. You can use that info to google the process and high ram use and see if there is complaints from others. Older software on a new OS can cause all kinds of weirdness if it wasn’t tested first. Most older software isn’t tested and they want you to buy the newest version which they do test. Chris, IT and Programmer