Recommended for all macOS High Sierra users
This OS version continues the Apple tradition of exposing your personal and business sensitive data in the inactive parts of RAM after quitting applications. In this way the OS can process and push certain data held in memory to the Apple servers. In macOS Sierra, your privacy is further compromised by a new feature that allows for copied data in the clipboard to be transferred to the Apple servers for pushing to iOS devices. Because of these privacy concerns, you are strongly advised to download and run a manual or automatic (the most preferred option) RAM memory purging utility, and install a network monitoring and controlling utility, such as Little Snitch.
About version 10.13
Apple must be getting the message from users who are choosing to stay with older versions of macOS (or OS X). The comfortable nature of having something users are already familiar with and works with reasonable stability, is more privacy-protected (such as not having everything going through the Apple servers and being stored in the iCloud with little or no control), works in the sense that they know certain favourite apps will continue to run (no waiting for updates or paying for upgrades), and avoids too many unnecessary macOS features slowing down their slightly older Macs, are just some of the reasons to resist change. Perfectly understandable. There is only so much OS X/macOS people can take. Still, for those willing to defy the trend, you can be sure there are enough Mac fanboys out there (mainly the novices and people under the age of 30 years) willing to try anything new with an Apple logo on it. These are mainly the ones who want to be "first" at anything and think "Apple" is the greatest company in the world (and with a market worth of US$850 billion, who can blame them?). We can see why Americans love Apple, and why Apple loves Americans. A symbiotic love affair has developed to carry through these macOS upgrades for the rest of the world.
Only question is, how can the might of a computer company the size of Apple entice the more established and experienced Mac connoisseurs to move on and see the benefits of the latest and greatest thing as Apple would have us believe? You've hit upon a very good question. Maybe the answer is, the company doesn't have to. Apart from making the popular Apple software known as FileMaker Pro 17 work only on the latest macOS (minimum is macOS 10.12 Sierra), it seems like anyone who purchases a new Mac will have no choice. Eventually we all have to accept the latest macOS given enough time whether we like it or not. It is only for those silly enough to move on too quickly who will be the ones to face the most changes and potentially further problems if everything is not properly tested by Apple and all the other software manufacturers (hence the reason why we must have beta testers consisting of newbies, also known as Mac novices, who want to be the first at everything, or think a Mac is the best computer on the planet). It is for these people that many experienced Mac users are particularly grateful for in having around as they will be the ones to highlight the main problems of greatest concern, and hopefully Apple and other software manufacturers will fix them.
As you can see, most experienced Mac users are quite happy to wait around until all the problems are ironed out and all the essential software apps are fully updated for compatibility before moving on. The only other slight problem to be observed by these Mac users is how certain older software will tend not to work anymore on the latest OS. As a result of the IT merry-go-round and extra expense and time in finding software alternatives (if any), experienced Mac users are choosing to create what are known as virtual disks for both older and newer OS versions (Windows and Mac) and run them on Parallels Desktop or VMware. In that way, the apps can continue to run on those different OS versions.
Virtual disks are the saviour for many experienced Mac users. The quiet solution to all the silly upgrades resulting in older but perfectly workable and useful software from failing to work on the latest OS.
Speaking of virtual disks, you would be wise to stick to the most stable, reliable and fastest virtualization software tools on the planet. Parallels Desktop for Mac users (costs $80) is okay, but has gone slower with version 13 due to the fancier interface and extra features. Make sure you have a decent Macintosh computer with 16GB RAM to run it for anything like Windows 7 or higher or any OS X and macOS system (forget it if you have 8GB unless you have an SSD, and even then you will need an i7 processor). For Windows users, use the free VMware Player version 12 or higher. To remove any restrictions in VMware needed to run an Apple OS virtual disk (not surprisingly, Apple prefers Windows users to buy a Mac), try the following:
- Install VMware Player.
- Download and extract VMware Unlocker 2.1.1 (a free tool) and run with Administrator Privileges (right-click with the mouse) the file win-install.cmd.
- Launch VMware player
- Create the virtual disk by selecting "Apple Mac OS X" and the version of the OS you want from the pop-up menu. Then use 40GB for the disk size unless you intend to install lots of Mac apps on it, and select "Store virtual disk as a single file".
- In the "Edit virtual machine settings", make sure you set RAM to a minimum of 4GB (preferably 6GB) and minimum 2 core processors for macOS or OS X to operate properly.
- Grab an ISO image file (you can convert DMG to ISO using free utilities) for macOS Sierra or High Sierra (download the DMG from the Apple web site or elsewhere), or any older OS X installer you may have lying around in archive.
- Select the ISO image file in CD/DVD drive settings.
- Click "Play virtual machine" link.
- Let the Apple installer put a copy of your OS into the virtual disk. If necessary, choose Disk Utility to format and make bootable the virtual disk and recognise it exists, then select the virtual disk icon (next to the CD/DVD icon) and install the OS.
- If you have any trouble, you can always download ready-made VMware virtual disks of some selected OS X and macOS systems.
For Windows users wanting to try VMware for this very purpose, make sure you have ample space to allow for these virtual disks to be stored (or maybe you need only one? In which case, 40GB of free space plus an extra 10 GB for the Windows OS to run in the background would be good to have). We recommend a minimum 6GB RAM set aside to run each virtual disk you create (you can only run one virtual disk at a time using VMware Player) and an SSD for maximum throughout speeds and volumes of data necessary to attain adequate performance. Or you can get away with a decent PC computer having an i7 quad-core Intel processor, 16GB RAM, and a mechanical (magnetic) 5,400rpm hard drive. Don't bother if you only have an i5 Intel processor and less than 8GB RAM as everything will be too slow.
For Mac users, magnetic drives are a thing of the past. Best to go for a minimum 1TB SSD (or better still, go for 2TB and be done with it, but only if you live in the United States and can afford it; Australia and most other countries will be, for some reason, restricted to 1TB; in which case, go on eBay and buy the bloody thing properly from the United States). Other than that, Apple is sensible enough to have installed the standard 16GB RAM for all Mac systems. (1) NOTE: 2TB SSDs are now standard on international Macs.
Until more users become aware of the power of virtual disks to get around this upgrade nonsense and lack of stability in key software apps you need to run, Apple will try all means of enticing existing Mac users relying on previous macOS (or OS X) and a few more new gullible users to the Mac platform to upgrade to the latest OS and so increase the likelihood of receiving greater profits. With this aim firmly in the minds of Apple CEOs, we see considerable marketing hype being employed by Apple through careful choice of words to tout the alleged brilliance of the latest release. And maybe it is, depending on what you hope to achieve with the latest macOS. Sure, there are lots of ways Apple will try to learn who you are and what you do (and what you are using for apps too) now considered a standard feature (yes, there has always been another good reason to have users on iCloud and in pushing personal data through the Apple servers). No need for Apple to emphasise this aspect. All part of the package now. Rather, it is better to mention those other things that the company wants us to hear about in a little more detail. Thus, words to the effect of "advanced", "performed beautifully", "better", "new level of security", and "visual experience to the next level" will be just the tip of the iceberg. Sounds familiar? Well, you have to give it to Apple. It has been doing this for more than 30 years, and don't the profits show for it (mind you, if anything is truly good, it should speak for itself, right?).
Okay, so now we have macOS High Sierra. Just another in a long list of macOS versions. The good thing is it does remain free as it should given the glut of different versions out there at the moment. Therefore, the question on everyone's minds is, Is it worth it?
Or to put it another way, how well-justified is all the marketing hype for the latest release? And will it be enough to see enough Mac users make the move to the latest macOS version (and with it a potential rise in sales of new Macs to handle the bigger and bloated OS)?
The four main features
The features touted as a "game changer" (yes, another term used by Apple) and radically different from any previous OS version are in the following areas:
- Apple has decided at this stage to introduce a new Apple File System (APFS) for organizing your data (i.e., files and folders). It is the successor to HFS+. In describing this new file management technology, Apple says, "You data is under new management" (according to the Apple blurb on MacUpdate.com as of September 2017). A rather unfortunate choice of words. Most average users on hearing this will naturally form a picture in their minds of someone else wanting to organise your files and folders in the way this other person (i.e., Apple) wants it done. Someone else controlling your digital life? To some extent, Apple is already doing this (because it is assumed we are all dumb and have no idea how to organize our data) by forcing the appearance of folders to store your documents, photos, music, applications etc. And when it comes to those Save/Save As dialog boxes, the OS has an uncanny way of knowing which folder it will look at first because this is how Apple thinks you will organise your data in accordance with its preferred approach. It does not matter if you tell it differently. The OS has a habit of forgetting after a while and revert back to Apple's preferred locations. Well, in macOS High Sierra, you get more of the same "we will tell you how to do things for you", but APFS is more about extending the life of your SSD, and improving access to files and folders in a way that is faster and more reliable. There is also the added advantage of allowing on-the-fly encryption/decryption of your files to stop unauthorised users from copying files (except for Apple and those law enforcement agencies that must look at your files and the owner of the files will have access). Assuming you follow Apple's recommended approach to storing your data in the folders created for you, then the main advantage of letting Apple organise your data is to allow it to provide the necessary greater security and increased responsiveness when accessing your data knowing Apple has more of its finger in "the pie" (we mean your data) and knows where everything is and what is contained in them, but presented in a way that suggests life can continue on as usual as if nothing has changed and will be better for you in the long run if you let Apple manage your data. If we leave aside this Orwellian aim of Apple, it is in the preservation of your SSD where this technology shines. APFS has been optimised specifically for Macs with SSD and flash-memory. It does this by spreading out the files. Although the same technology can be used on magnetic drives, the problem in doing so is the performance. It will drop the performance and only defragmentating the disk is the best way to organise and find files quickly. With SSD, it is not advisable to defragment files and keep them together or else certain memory chips will collapse sooner. It is all about preventing information from saving in the same spot in memory on a regular basis for the memory chips to survive the longest. At the end of the day, anyone with an SSD should use macOS High Sierra to preserve the SSD for longer. You won't really have any choice in this matter. Otherwise it will revert back to HFS+ for Macs with traditional magnetic hard disks if you intend to upgrade the OS. As for developers on the older macOS Sierra needing to test their apps for compatibility with the latest file system, this older OS will happily read APFS-formatted on partitioned drives without any trouble. It is good to see Apple has been thinking of you.
- With videos coming out as 4k to show the kind of detail more and more people are coming to accept (hopefully this will be enough to stabilise all laptop screens), a new industry-standard video file format has been created (yep, another one to contend with, so get yourself a good quality and up-to-date video file converter utility to bring some sanity to the plethora of video file formats out there in existence). It involves a more efficient and faster compression technology with playback designed to not lose the quality of the picture. Good to hear. The file format has already been created and tested, and is now standard in macOS High Sierra (as well as iOS 11). It is called HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding). Basically the same as the previous video format H.264 in terms of quality, except compression has been made even more efficient. As a result, the new file format also has the name of H.265, just the numbering has gone up a notch. But since the name does not inspire people to see any advantages in the file format, it is better to call it HEVC. Once American Apple users see "high efficiency" in the name, you can be sure they will jump into it like fish to water. And to some extent, maybe it is better. At least this technology does makes use of the possibility that 4k videos could be downloaded and watched simultaneously in what users know as "streaming" while on the internet. With this in mind, the makers of the new video file format has made sure what you are seeing as it comes through the internet will never lose the same visual quality. Fair enough. The technology should be seen as a worthy addition.
- There is a thing called "Metal 2". Relying on the early advertising blurb from Apple, it is hard to tell what exactly this is. Is this a new user interface where the graphics will sport the metallic look? Not exactly. It seems more to do with allowing "apps to unleash the full power of the GPU". We thought previous versions of macOS was already doing something similar, and developers were just adding the features to their own apps in the usual way. Apparently there is something else going on here. All the enormous graphics processing requirements for things like 3D virtual reality will be offloaded to special and dedicated graphics cards connected to your Mac via Thunderbolt so that way the built-in GPU of your Mac does not melt under the intense processing requirements. If you are in the serious 3D gaming business or movie industry, see this feature as essential for your line of work. And while you are at it, get yourself a dedicated and separate graphics card to plug into your Mac. Your laptop will love you for it (and not melt in your hands too!).
- With virtual reality and using special goggles to see a 3D world being the "in-thing" at the moment, Apple has decided to catch the wave of interest with APIs that will allow developers to create interactive virtual reality experiences in high definition and rendered at high speed (probably with the help of "Metal 2" and some of the compression technology in HEVC). However, much more grunt is required in the hardware department. This will come with the release of new iMac Pro in late 2017, including a new Retina 5K display. When combined with optimized support for Valve's StreamVR and the HTC Vive VR headset, apparently developers and content creationists will be overjoyed with unparalleled Mac technologies to help them create the best 3D worlds on the planet.
The above are the main features, and apparently what makes this a worthy upgrade.
Looking at the finer improvements, Apple has decided the idea of not auto-playing videos from web sites you are browsing in Safari is a considerable technological advancement from any previous macOS version to include (how about we get a plug-in for this feature to work on all Safari versions?). No more trying to listen to your favourite music and suddenly hearing over the top the sounds from a video coming in from a web page. Or more importantly, users will no longer be taken for granted that they can afford to give up GBs of data they have paid when they come back with a cup of coffee and discover much of the video has already been played. Geez, thanks. So, in some sense, allowing users to make the decision to play a video is a particularly good one.
Changes can also be seen in Apple's Photo.app (if for any reason no other third-party alternative is better you haven't been looking hard enough!). Here we find a few more features for managing and editing your photos (but don't worry, the app won't compete with Adobe or anyone else for that matter, as the app is always a dumb-down version of more professional apps out there). Mail.app gets a minor spruce up in terms of faster indexing of your email messages (presumably for your benefit only). Greater iCloud integration into the OS is considered a must with this macOS version, meaning that you can have your data invisibly and quietly transferred to Apple servers where you are told of the benefits of doing so, such as quickly sharing your personal data with family and friends via an invitation link sent to them when you want to share something (no invitation required for Apple as they already have your data).
Overall, there are numerous little tweaks here and there in the Apple apps. Not enough on their own to be considered an upgrade, but when the above main features are added, it is enough for Apple to see the OS as an upgrade. Otherwise, if you use these apps a lot, you may enjoy the improvements. For everyone else using third-party app solutions, it just means the Apple apps are getting bigger in size and we are forced to see them in the Applications folder whether we like them or not (no choice about how we wish to use the storage space for more important things).
In summary, the improvements are primarily to prepare macOS to handle higher volumes of digital data coming in from 4k videos and virtual reality environments, which in the end may translate into more awesome 3D games and high-definition video for you to watch and enjoy. They may not exactly solve world problems, but at least you will be entertained even more in those off-times when you want to relax and enjoy watching something on your Mac. Sounds more like the Apple CEOs have not much to do nowadays but to find ways to plug themselves to 3D worlds and escape the reality of what's happening in the real world.
And if not, the CEOs can always get some exercise in the real world by swimming in cash given the higher numbers of new Macs with SSDs that are going to be sold for those users who think it might be worth making the move to the latest OS version.
To run macOS High Sierra, here are the Macs you can run it on:
- 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)
macOS 10.13 Supplemental Update 1.0
Highly recommended, and certainly critical given how little testing has been done by Apple on the new APFS technology. Apple has released the macOS 10.13 Supplemental Update 1.0 (a whopping 923.4 MB) as of 7 October 2017 (makes you want to live in New Zealand or Silicon Valley in California to benefit from high speed and cheap fibre-optic internet networks). A necessary update to fix a glaring security issue in APFS technology. Thrown in for good measure are a few more other essential improvements to help with greater stability of installer packages, as well as a fix for the cursor graphic bug when using Adobe InDesign, and also resolves an issue where email messages couldn’t be deleted from Yahoo accounts in Mail. No immediate other issues reported by users when installing this update, so hopefully it should be plain sailing other than the hefty size of the update.
Remember, it is all early days yet.
Further details about the update is available from the Apple web site.
24 October 2017
There are definitely some teething problems with macOS High Sierra. Talk of missing login items after installing the supplemental update, not to mention issues with Mail.app and the new APFS somehow retaining a phenomenal number of draft emails despite the user thinking they were either sent or deleted, are starting to become common among Mac users. For example, Macguruguy at MacUpdate.com said:
"Have had my second major issue with High Sierra. Login Items disappeared. Was not on initial install. Had to completely rebuild because replacing preferences file would not work. Luckily I had backup info."
Another MacUpdate user going by the name of Bob-Jacobson said:
"My Apple Mail has been "saving xxx of x thousand drafts" since I installed HS [High Sierra]. Not sure if it's just a figment or actually using processing power the whole time. Reported it to Apple, who asked for a system dump. Hoping to hear back from them soon or at least get a new upgrade that cures the problem. Not too keen on some of the file-handling changes either, I'm still discovering more...."
Given the significant changes made to the file management system on macOS High Sierra, it might be worth waiting until at least the official macOS 10.13.1 update comes out (which is expected to be in early December, just before the Christmas period where Apple will have a chance to see all the users who are using the latest macOS when they are forced to download the update)..
macOS 10.13.1 Update
Released just prior to Halloween day in America, this is considered by many users to be an essential update from Apple for those users stuck on macOS High Sierra (mainly the newbies who have purchased the latest Macs) in order to quietly fix up some really big and nasty "Halloween-like" bugs in version 10.13.0 while giving the impression from the release notes that the company has only had to deal with mundane and minor improvements (ha!). We may not be told of all the bug fixes (probably wise considering how well we know Apple tests its own products still looking for more beta testers? You can be sure we are the beta testers right now!), but we do find a hefty list of security fixes for those bugs we do know about. So important are these fixes that the company has provided separate security updates for macOS Sierra and macOS El Capitan. Probably worth grabbing the update yourself and applying straightaway. Of the bugs Apple is prepared to say, we see a fix for Bluetooth during those moments when it may stop working during Apple Pay transactions. Not being able to enter text in Spotlight using the keyboard is fixed. Greater reliability of SMB printing and Microsoft Exchange message sync in Mail.app, More importantly, any issues where a Filevault-encrypted APFS volume cannot be unencrypted because of corruption or loss of the original password can now be unlocked using a recovery keychain file. To use this file, you must work with the UNIX command man diskutil in Terminal. This is important given how new the APFS technology is at the moment. The risk of losing your data should anything happen to the password is heightened with this technology. Also one other crucial security bug fix has been carried over from the Supplemental Update 1.0. This is best explained in the following quote:
"It was recently reported that a vulnerability in macOS High Sierra allowed apps with malicious intent to access passwords stored in Apple’s Keychain in plain text. That would, of course, immediately give the owner of the app access to passwords which were supposed to be secured and encrypted by the system. The process of achieving this, which was reported to Apple on September 7th well before the macOS High Sierra launch, has never been officially disclosed by the discoverer, and while Apple fixed this in an Supplemental Update to 10.13.0, the same fix carries over to 10.13.1 as well." (Source: "Download: macOS 10.13.1 High Sierra Final Version Released": iPhoneFirmware.com, 31 October 2017)
Or better still, if you really want to be safe, we recommend waiting for the next macOS upgrade sometime late 2018.
To make the improvements seem not too serious, Apple has also mentioned the addition of heaps more emojis for those riveted by their appearance. And we see "minor app and performance improvements" to iTunes, raising it to version 12.7.1.
At the moment, Apple wants users to download the update via the App Store to give it a feel of how many users have upgraded to macOS High Sierra. The data gathered here will be compared with El Capitan and Sierra when users download from the App Store the Security Update 2017-004 file for El Capitan (814MB) and Security Update 2017-001 for Sierra (768.3MB).
NOTE: The above links to the security updates were made available a few days after the release of macOS 10.13.1 Update.
In terms of some undocumented so-called improvements, we see the following statement from a Macupdate user:
"Apple had an artificial limitation built into previous versions of the OS which made their external Superdrive unusable on machines with internal drives. Thus, when your internal drive dies, you're screwed, as I learned when I bought one of their Superdrives. Fortunately this limitation was very easy to get around with a simple modification to one OS file, but in High Sierra they sabotaged this. Thus their insanely expensive Superdrive is useless until someone figures out how to fix this."
macOS 10.13.2 Update
Arriving just in a nick of time for Christmas, the macOS 10.13.2 update was released on 6 December 2017. A swathe of security fixes come as standard (but no longer being offered to users of previous macOS versions presumably as a means of encouraging them to upgrade). And with new products coming on the market ready for the Christmas shoppers to spend big, Apple has decided to update its support for more third-party USB audio devices. So now you should be well on your way to being fully entertained on your Mac by Christmas Day with a good audio headset when listening to music, watching movies and/or playing games. Apart from that, and any hidden major bugs quashed quietly by Apple in this release, we see the other improvements are in:
- VoiceOver navigation when viewing PDF documents in Preview; and
- Improves compatibility of Braille displays with Mail.
Probably an essential update for those on macOS High Sierra.
Yet it seems the update is not quite to the expectations of users, with reports of the OS still feeling buggy. A classic example is this statement from a user named ososX:
"HS [High Sierra] is suppose to be a 'maintenance' upgrade, but the feeling is that its less stable than before. My MBP 2013 (16Gmem, Intel 2.7GHz, 500G flash drive) usually works neatly and fast (aside from LaTeX related stuff all programs are from the store). Somehow there are lots of glitches, particularly with the MAP application that keep on quitting all the time. I'm not happy with this maintenance version."
As a result of the growing concerns from High Sierra users, Apple has provided a macOS 10.13.2 Supplemental Update 1.0, or a kind of "maintenance release" as of 9 January 2018. This seems to be an attempt to quash more serious bugs, but is described by Apple as merely a security update after stating to users:
"macOS High Sierra Supplemental Update includes security improvements to Safari and WebKit to mitigate the effects of Spectre."
Only available through the App Store, its download location also means that Apple is again looking for some statistics on how many extra users do choose to download the latest update, and so see whether profits are likely to be going up due to new users purchasing a new Mac over the Christmas period, or existing Mac users have made the upgrade. Given the buggy nature of macOS High Sierra,don't expect too many upgrades for existing users. Much of the update downloads should come from new users, but hopefully enough to keep Apple CEOs and their shareholders happy.
Give it about a week later to receive the download Combo link.
macOS 10.13.3 Update
While Apple is looking closely at the uptake of macOS 10.13 through this latest update by forcing users to download the update through its App Store before later providing a download link, we see the company has seen a need to fix the conversation list getting out-of-order in Messages.app. According to MacUpdate.com, this seems to be the only improvement, and for this you must download the 2.8GB plus update. Isn't there something else?
On closer inspection, it would appear that Apple has had to update a variety of system components after discovering numerous security concerns (yet more to be found). Of particular interest in this regard is the following:
"Impact: An application may be able to read kernel memory (Meltdown)
Description: Systems with microprocessors utilizing speculative execution and indirect branch prediction may allow unauthorized disclosure of information to an attacker with local user access via a side-channel analysis of the data cache. "
This is the reason for the hefty update file size. Lots of files need updating. As a result of the security problems and size of some of these vulnerable components and how well integrated they are in macOS, Apple has decided to combine them (also available separately as Security Update 2018-001 Sierra and Security Update 2018-001 El Capitan, but Apple needs to make comparisons on the number of users downloading these updates so expect them to be available initially through the App Store), and release at the same time as standard the latest Apple apps, including Safari.app (the main gateway for malicious users to access your computer).
Other fixes are probably necessary in areas where the new file management system needs further tweaking given how new this is, but Apple will not mention them.
Overall, it is probably an essential update for users already on macOS 10.13.
macOS 10.13.3 Supplemental Update 1.0
Apple is struggling to quash all the bugs, or have decided to not exactly work off its butt to find every single bug in existence to ensure a top-notch, truly intuitive, stable, and easy-to-use OS for all Mac users. Probably a case of wait and see (especially as there is no profit in updating and now upgrading the OS), and if enough users complain about something long and hard, the company may do something to fix it (but don't hold your breath!). This preferred approach from the company has seen an unusual number of updates in recent times to macOS 10.13, more so than in previous OS X versions. It means Mac users, especially those using the latest stuff, will suddenly find themselves being the beta testers as Apple releases its updates. The macOS 10.13.3 Supplemental Update 1.0 is just one in a series of updates, and it should not surprise anyone. Just another in a growing list of updates showing there are plenty of things the OS needs improving. The latest update as of 20 February 2018 addresses the following critical bug:
"Update fixes an issue where using certain character sequences could cause apps to crash, [and] Processing a maliciously crafted string [in CoreText] may lead to heap corruption. Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed through improved input validation."
Looks important enough to apply the update. And for two lousy, but reasonably important bug fixes, expect to download a whopping 1.3GB for the update file size. Surely Apple can find an easier way to update system files for bug fixes?
Perhaps a little more effort to track the bugs down prior to releasing a new macOS might make the difference.
Speaking of not doing the job first time around, a special macOS 10.13.3 Supplemental Update 1.0 for Mac Pro users has been released and can be downloaded from here.
macOS 10.13.4 Update
Arriving just in a nick of time for the start of the Easter holidays in late March 2018, Apple has released the macOS 10.13.4 Update (Combo). The primary focus with this update is providing security and privacy improvements to Safari (bringing this app to version 11.1) following recent revelations that people's personal details are getting extracted by various means. Whether it is from the recent privacy breaches through Cambridge Analytica and FaceBook.com and using the data without permission from users to sway voters to choose particular political candidates over all others, and other recent scandals, Apple has felt Safari could be a little more interactive with the users in terms of notifying them when password or credit card forms appear on non-encrypted web pages (should have been there a long time ago), give options through privacy icons to stop certain private information from being released, or give links to explain how your data will be used by Apple when Apple features appear and request certain information from you, and you must click into usernames and password fields on online forms to automatically enter the information using the AutoFill feature (rather than load the page and the username and password is entered straightaway. In the last feature, we hope one day Apple will allow a master password to be entered by users before Safari autofills the form fields.
There is also more security for Business Chat conversations in Messages within the U.S., but not quite the rest of the world (probably in light of recent news that China is doing all it can to steal intellectual properties from American firms, so why not return the favour by garnering intellectual secrets for American firms from the rest of the world?).
No major issues to report for the new file organizing format for SSDs suggesting that the early problems have been addressed. Then again, Apple has a habit of hiding embarrassing bugs by quietly fixing them if there is a good chance no one else will know about them. Still, you would probably want to wait for the next upgrade before making any kind of move to the latest OS.
Some problems with graphics corruption issues affecting some apps while running on a Mac Pro appear to be eliminated with this update. To balance things out here, Apple has also provided a new feature to make use of external graphics processing units (eGPUs), perhaps as an additional option in times when certain new graphic processing chips are not quite up to standard and needs alternative chips to fill in the gaps.
Never to disappoint Mac users (but never ceases to end) are yet another round of security fixes throughout various system components and Apple apps and so bringing the Security Update to version 2018-002 for earlier macOS versions that also gladly received this update (you must have a minimum of macOS El Capitan to gain the security benefits, but Apple has decided to drop support for the OS in FileMaker Pro 17 (2) as of 15 May 2018 as a means of encouraging users to move on and use the latest macOS, so use virtual disks to run the latest OS, while enjoying your preferred OS X or macOS version). Safari 11.1 is also available for macOS Sierra and macOS El Capitan, as well as iTunes 12.7.4.
If macOS 10.13.4 combo update link is too big, try this delta update from macOS 10.13.3 to 10.13.4.
Generally no reports of bad experiences during the update by those Mac users eager to go for the latest stuff, so consider this a reasonably stable software during the update process. When running it, however, this may be another thing altogether. For now, it seems better than running macOS 10.13.0.
macOS 10.13.4 Supplemental Update 1.0
Apple has found something serious wrong with the previous update file that it needed to improve it yet again. The 970MB Supplemental Update 1.0 can be downloaded from here.
Released on 1 June 2018, the macOS 10.13.5 update fixes up an SCEP payload issue (i.e., now expands and installs properly), and addresses more instability, poor performance, and new security problems identified recently.
For those users who are already on this OS version, you have no choice but to update ASAP. Sorry. You are the guinea pigs for Apple's latest offerings.
For those contemplating the upgrade to this OS, it is still a buggy OS (and performance is better on SSD Mac systems), but it is improving at an achingly slow pace.
For Windows users deciding whether it is worth the switch to macOS, there is little benefit in doing so. Windows 10 is more stable, looks good, and has better performance on non-SSD systems. On SSD systems with 16GB RAM, Windows 10 generally out performs macOS.
To make it seem like the update is worth it, Apple has thrown in the option to store your messages and attachments in iCloud. The reason for doing this can be seen in the Apple quote:
"This update adds support for Messages in iCloud, which lets you store messages with their attachments in iCloud and free up space on your Mac."
Apple must think there are plenty of users filling up the hard disk space with millions of email messages and storing massive attachment files. Hard to imagine most users ever needing the extra space to store emails and attachments. Most normal people would never have a network in a work environment capable of allowing hundreds of megabytes for attachments to be transferred per email. More likely 10MB maximum for all attachments. Sounds more like the quote should be:
"This update adds support for Messages in iCloud, which lets you store messages with their attachments in iCloud and so allows Apple and its third-party commercial software manufacturers to see who you are and what kind of commercial work you do for clients with their software (you better have the right license purchased!)."
There is an option to enable or disable this feature in the Messages system preference pane (click Accounts and select "Enable Messages in iCloud", or deselect it, whichever you feel most comfortable and useful for your line of work or personal activities).
To keep the download small, you can download the delta update. Still a whopping 2.0GB to download.
Geez, Apple must be feeling sorry for the Mac users stuck on High Sierra. Nothing like forcing users through so many bugs since version 10.13.0. Now Apple has decided to be generous with yet another update, and the last one to hopefully make people think how wonderful macOS is once again assuming all the known bugs are gone. Amazing.
As support for High Sierra in terms of bug fixes has ended (other than the two or three security updates to come and then all Sierra users will be left high and dry), hopefully this update will fix the remaining known bugs for a much more trouble-free experience and all manner of evils left behind by Apple have been removed or minimised by this time. Well, it has to. Not enough users are upgrading with gusto to the latest macOS. Something has to attract users to move on to the next and greatest thing on Earth. If not, we should not be surprised if users stay where they are. Upgrading to an ever over-blown monstrosity of an OS where you have to install everything Apple wants you to have, stop older apps from working, and go for another round of bugs to deal with, is not everyone's cup of tea. Not like Microsoft where the release of Windows 10 Signature Edition to streamline and make more compact the OS for a much faster and pleasant experience has been welcomed by the PC community. When will Apple release its own macOS Signature Edition? Or is this a case of "every silver lining must have a cloud"? While Microsoft sits back and learns from Apple's mistakes and makes a better OS, Apple must be seen as the bad boy in the IT industry when it comes to testing new ideas to the unsuspecting public.
In the meantime, Mac users will have to enjoy the latest offerings from Apple with fixes to the following areas:
"The macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 update adds AirPlay 2 multi-room audio support for iTunes and improves the stability and security of your Mac.
(i) AirPlay 2 for iTunes: Control your home audio system and AirPlay 2-enabled speakers throughout your house Play music at the same time on multiple AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in your house, all in sync
(ii) Other improvements and fixes: Fixes an issue that may prevent Photos from recognizing AVCHD media from some cameras Fixes an issue that may prevent Mail users from moving a message from Gmail to another account "
Interesting to see the security improvements are still there (a never ending saga for a company that is still struggling to release a truly stable and secure OS, but not without annoying the hell out of experienced Mac users with Gatekeeper issues, being forced to accept more Apple apps in the Applications folder, and all the rest). Apple should take a page out of the Microsoft book of just providing a world-class malware and anti-virus protection app to handle this situation, and keep macOS compact. Are the PC users complaining about it? Certainly not. Mac users complaining? It doesn't take a genius to work out why.
As this is a must have update for those on High Sierra (and every bug fix and security improvement is a necessity), you can download the full combo update from here. There is a smaller delta update, but as one MacUpdate user wrote:
"Recommend users d/l the combo updater and use that even if it is a 0.1 change to your OS. I have had too many issues over many years relying on the App Store d/l the incremental updater. I have found OS X and now Mac OS to be more reliable when I keep system software up to date using combo updaters."
For MacBook Pro users, Apple also recommends you install the macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update 2 for improved stability and reliability with MacBook pro with Touchbar 2018 models.