Our High Sierra Review – Apple’s Newest Operating System

If you are a Mac user, before hitting that update button, you might want to read our High Sierra review.

What is High Sierra?

High Sierra is the latest operating system (OS) designed by Apple. For those who may not be familiar with the technical terminology, an operating system is both the heart and brain of your computer. Without an operating system, you have a very expensive piece of glass, plastic, and metal. With an operating system, your computer can run software, schedule tasks, and control the peripherals.

High Sierra was introduced to Mac users last year but has since had a few updates. If your Mac computer was built in 2010 or later, you can download High Sierra for free.

What Devices Support High Sierra?

High Sierra is a free update for all 2010 and later MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, Mac Pros, and Mac Minis. In addition, 2009 and later MacBooks, iMacs and iMac Pros also support High Sierra. Unfortunately, iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads, do not support High Sierra. They have their own operating system.

High Sierra Review

When you upgrade to High Sierra, you might not notice much of a difference, but that’s only because most of the changes are happening behind the scenes. While the changes might seem subtle, they’re designed to make your system run faster, more securely, and more efficiently. Does it match up to all its hype, though?

Related: Top 5 Accounting Software Packages for Mac

High Sierra Improvements to Mac OS

The most significant change is that for the first time in 20 years, Apple computers now have a new file system. High Sierra’s file system, called the Apple File System (APFS) replaces 1998’s Hierarchical File System (HFS+). To put that in perspective, this was Mac’s newest computer in 1998:

Image CC by 2.0, by HereToHelp, via Wikimedia Commons

While Apple has made some changes throughout the last two decades, this is the first total revamp. MacWorld discovered that it really made a difference. It freed up quite a bit of space.


The extra space isn’t the only benefit

High Sierra copies large files faster. A 4GB file, for example, updated instantly, when before the upgrade it took 8.4 seconds, which might not seem long but if you have a lot of files to download or update, it can add up. I’ll let MacWorld explain it:

There is a caveat with this ‘copying’ though. The file isn’t being duplicated at all. It is essentially a writable clone of the original file. Rather than duplicating the original, the cloned file stores the changes that are made to it in the metadata and points to the original for the rest of the data. You could say it’s bit like making an alias, except that any changes made to the cloned file will be attached to that version of the clone, rather than reflected in the original. It’s also a little like the way Time Machine works – rather than copying every thing on your Mac each time, it just keeps track of the changes.

The other thing you need to keep in mind here is that if you have filled your Mac up with 100 copies of a what was originally a 4GB file, deleting all of them will not recover 400GB of space.

Our favorite benefits

One major plus for this High Sierra review is crash protection. If you are in the middle of a file transfer and your computer suddenly loses power, when you start it back up, it will continue the transfer from where your computer shut down.

High Sierra also offers built-in encryption and Snapshots, so you can recapture your files at any moment in time.

High Sierra is on top of today’s privacy concerns. Safari (Apple’s browser) allows you to control browser tracking. In other words, if you search for a gag gift for your brother, you can stop the continuous ads for toilet mugs and such. If you research mattresses online, you can put a stop to future ads after you buy one.

High Sierra review for the changes you can see

Perhaps the most noticeable improvement is to the way High Sierra handles your photos. It offers advanced photo editing by allowing seamless integration with third-party apps. As you can see, the sidebar allows you to automatically switch to third-party editing services, such as PhotoShop or Snapseed.

Image by author, all rights reserved

You’ll also see a difference in Mail, where you see a Top Hits display for your searched messages. You get split-view message-composing when Mail is running full-screen.

Apple is known for seamless integration. Your iPhone is an extension of your MacBook and your MacBook is an extension of your iMac. With High Sierra, integration is even better. You can copy/paste between two Mac devices, as long as you sign into both. You can share files from iCloud without having to go through third-party services.

If you’re a multi-tasker (and who isn’t?), you’ll appreciate the default mute feature on Safari. If you are listening to a podcast or background music, you won’t be interrupted by obnoxious ads on other pages. Of course, if you want to listen to a site’s audio, a simple click allows you to hear everything. You can even customize it to always allow audio from certain sites.

High Sierra review for browser speed

High Sierra considerably boosted the speed of Safari. PC Magazine noted that under High Sierra, Safari was about twice as fast as Chrome or Firefox.

Mac OS High Sierra Drawbacks

Siri is the feature that Apple users most love to hate. That fact won’t change much with High Sierra, other than Siri now has a more natural sounding voice. High Sierra also has a DJ feature, where Siri will help you find music through Apple Music, which is a $10.00 per month add-on through the App Store.

OS High Sierra Reported Bugs

The latest update to High Sierra is version 10.13.4. The update addresses some malware vulnerabilities that the previous version had. The update was released on April 17 and already they’re working on fixes for, or have fixed, the following bugs:

Security Update 2018-001 for macOS 10.13.4

On April 25, macOS 10.13.4 received an update. Security Update 2018-001 for macOS 10.13.4 addresses the following security vulnerabilities.

  • An issue where an application may be able to gain elevated privileges due to a memory corruption issue.
  • An issue where processing a maliciously crafted text message may lead to UI spoofing. This was related to the handling of spoofed URLs.

Apple is moving away from 32-bit apps. Users receive warnings upon opening 32-bit apps that the app is not optimized for your Mac. It does still let you open the app, but that won’t be forever. According to MacWorld, Apple will soon stop supporting 32-bit apps at all. Go to MacWorld for a complete list of High Sierra 10.13.4 updates.

Predicting Apple’s Next Moves

In years past, Apple was known for zigging when the rest of the computer world was zagging. They were arguably the industry leader in innovation. Their biggest criticism was that because of their proprietary software, users had less flexibility. Since the departure of founder Steve Jobs, though, Apple has become a bit less innovative and in many cases, they chase the competition rather than lead them.

Some predict that in the future, Mac will have just one operating system for all devices. It’s surprising that day hasn’t come already. If you’ve tried to use Apple’s iOS, though, you’ll soon realize that it has a long way to go before it matches High Sierra.

The most likely scenario, at least for the short term, is that Apple will continue more gradual changes so as not to set off tectonic shocks throughout the computer world. The fact is that consumers don’t like dramatic changes, especially when those changes involve new hardware. Look, though, for continued improvements in speed, photo quality and editing, and integration. The immediate focus is on privacy and security. Apple is working on Siri, but its High Sierra review still doesn’t come close to Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant.

High Sierra Review Final Thoughts

If your Mac is nagging you to update to High Sierra, do it. It will speed up your system, offer you some photo editing flexibility and help you organize your email. If you are a long-time Mac user, you will love High Sierra (just make sure to download all the updates to prevent security lapses). If you are new to Mac, you will love the seamless integration, especially if you also have an iPhone or iPad.

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