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Moving to MacOS Sierra

MacOS updates come out on a fairly predictable release cycle these days, with a developer preview in early summer and full public release in September/October. If like us you’re using Macs in a production environment you’ll want to be careful about how you handle any major operating system updates.

Our usual approach is to upgrade in late December. By then any major bugs have usually been ironed out and most third-party software has also been brought up to date too. The upgrade process we follow looks a bit like this…

Step 1: Check that you’re eligible for the upgrade

As with all OS updates some older hardware inevitably falls by the wayside. Before starting the upgrade process be sure to check that your hardware will support the new relase of OS X: http://www.apple.com/uk/macos/how-to-upgrade/

Step 2: Wait for the dust to settle & set aside some time

Whether you wait to jump in or not it’s a good idea to start with just one machine and some thorough testing. See if anything breaks, before rolling an OS update out to your whole studio.

You’ll also want to allow for some downtime around the upgrade. If you follow all the steps below, the whole process could take several hours, so this isn’t the sort of thing to attempt in a tea break or in the run-up to any tight production deadlines.

Step 3: Create a bootable backup

A bootable backup is your safety-net should the worse happen, allowing you to quickly jump back to your Mac’s pre-update state and continue working as before. The ‘bootable’ bit is key as it means that in addition to all your data, all the relevant system files are copied to allow you to actually boot your Mac from the backup volume you create.

To do this all you need is an external hard drive and a copy of SuperDuper, which is free to download from: www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/

First format your external hard drive using Apple’s built-in Disk Utility app. Select the volume from the list on the left then choose Erase and Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the format. The second step is to create a boot partition. Selecting your external hard drive again choose the Partition tab and select 1 Partition from the Partition Layout drop-down. Under Options ensure that GUID Partition Table is selected before hitting Apply.

Now you’re read launch SuperDuper! and run a full backup of your Mac’s internal drive to the new volume you just created. Depending on how much data you have to copy and the speed of your external drive this part can take a couple of hours.

SuperDuper backup

Step 4: Run Software Update

Backup done it’s a good idea to make sure that all your apps are up to date before starting the upgrade so check the App Store and then any individual apps that have their own updaters.

Step 5: Backup with Time Machine

If you’re using Time Machine for your local backups then it’s worth running a final backup pre-upgrade to make sure everything is there should you need to do a restore.

Step 6: Download & install the update

Head over to the Mac App Store and select Install on the new macOS udpate. The download usually weighs in at just under 5GB so depending on your connection and how busy the store is it might take a little while to download.

Step 7: Configure & test

All being well your Mac should run the installer and reboot into the new version of macOS. Launch your key applications and check everything is working as expected. At the time of publishing we have updated a range of desktop and laptop Macs in the studio without any issues and generally found the upgrade process one of the smoothest and quickest we could remember.

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Nick Barron

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Nick Barron

In his role as UX Director Nick ensures that everything we do reflects a clear understanding of our clients’ aims as well the expectations of their audiences.