If you have a Mac you may have noticed the offer to upgrade to the latest version of the operating system, macOS Sierra. Here’s our breakdown on whether to upgrade.
[Note that with the introduction of Sierra, Apple has changed its naming conventions from “OS X” to “macOS”, similar to their mobile operating system “iOS.”]
New Features in Sierra
Sierra has several new features, but nothing that we have found to be essential:
- Siri, Apple’ voice-command system, is a part of macOS Sierra. This allows you to talk to your Mac instead of typing in search commands or using menus for basic commands. Apple does tout several other ways to use Siri, but we haven’t integrated those into our workflow. Being able to talk to our phones seems like a really useful feature, but we aren’t sure how helpful it is to be able to talk to our computers, even in a home environment; in an office environment we have not found Siri to be appropriate or useful.
- You can copy and paste between your iOS devices and your Mac. We haven’t even wrapped our minds around that one, let alone found a use for it.
- There is support for iCloud storage for all of your Mac desktop and Documents folder files–the idea being that most of the files you use can be synced with iCloud and accessed on your phone or iPad. We do not recommend you use this feature for reasons that are explained below.
- “Memories” is a feature of Photos that automatically creates albums from your photos. This was admittedly stunning in some instances–family vacations, for instance–but it was absurd in others (we have an awful lot of pictures of computers in our photos that we use to document inventory numbers, damage, repair processes, etc., and Memories includes them right along with our personal photos).
- There are other enhancements if you use Apple Pay or an Apple Watch, but we haven’t explored those.
Problems We are Aware Of
- We have read of a serious issue that arose when a user attempted to use the iCloud storage sync feature with two Mac’s and an iOS device: he ended up losing all of the files on one of the computers. Luckily he had a backup of the files, but this tale convinces us that this feature is not ready for prime time, and you should not enable it. Please also note that work-related files of a sensitive nature must never be saved on non-Hampshire devices; see the Hampshire College Data Security Policy.
- We have not done broad testing of printers, but we have found that some Cannon PIXMA printers do not work with the new system without going through a multi-step work-around every time a document is printed. Hampshire Xerox and HP printers on campus appear to work just fine.
- Adobe InDesign may have some graphical issues when dragging items around. This problem is purely visual, and other Adobe Creative Cloud applications reportedly work fine.
- We do not find the new features compelling enough to recommend an upgrade. If you do have a strong desire to upgrade, there are no show-stoppers that we have found except for the iCloud syncing feature–use that at your own risk on personal computers, and please do not use it on Hampshire-owned computers.
- As with any upgrade, you should do a full backup of your computer before you do the upgrade. Our recommendation is to use Time Machine, but if you have another full backup solution that you use, go ahead and use that.
- Be aware that there may be compatibility issues with applications or printers. It’s always a good idea to do a Google search to see if anyone else has reported issues with key applications or printers and the new operating system.