macOS Sierra and App Compatibility

3 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #195

I’ve told you more than once that it’s a bad idea to upgrade your Mac’s (or any device’s) operating system immediately after the operating system’s release. Alas, waiting is not an option for me because of my vocation, so I once again disobeyed my own advice and installed macOS Sierra 10.12 on my production Mac on the day it was released.

I’ve got good news and bad news.

First the good news: The macOS Sierra upgrade was painless for most users including me. I’ve heard very few reports of Macs becoming unusable after the upgrade.

The bad news is that there are still several popular Mac applications that ceased to function under Sierra. And there are several others that work, but have problems or issues they didn’t have under El Capitan.

Warning to ScanSnap Users

For me, that means I have to exercise caution whenever I use my ScanSnap ix500 scanner. While it still works, Fujitsu has warned that under Sierra, some scanned pages may become blank; black & white scans may spontaneously turn into larger color files; and pages may be deleted from PDFs during merge operations. A fix is promised by mid-October, but the issue affects all Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners, so if you depend upon yours, you might want to wait for the fix before you upgrade.

Fujitsu's Sierra Compatibility Warning for ScanSnap users.

Fujitsu’s Sierra Compatibility Warning for ScanSnap users.

Keyboard Weirdness

Another problem is that my beloved Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 has gone completely wonky under Sierra with the “a” key completely dead and the “i” key typing an “h.” At first I thought the keyboard itself had died, but it works fine connected to a Mac running El Capitan. Fortunately, my second favorite keyboard— a Matias One — has no such issues, so I’m using it until I can figure out a way to make the Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 get along with Sierra.

News flash: I figured it out. After rebooting (to no avail), I used my Google-Fu and found this suggestion that worked for me:

I had the very same issue and found a different fix thanks to the team @ Daskeyboard: “Open up System Preferences and open up Keyboard. In the Keyboard tab, open up the Modifier Keys button and click Restore Defaults. Once you do that, open up Shortcuts and click Restore Defaults there.”

That worked for me and I’m happily typing away on my Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 once again.

Even More Things That Cease to Function Under Sierra

Last but not least, my screenshot utility of choice—Snapz Pro—has issues so annoying I disabled it and am using another utility for the time being.

Since I have other scanners, keyboards, and screenshot utilities, my transition from El Capitan to Sierra wasn’t bad. But I know others who weren’t so fortunate. For example, I heard from a nice lady who upgraded only to discover that QuickBooks 2012, which her business relies upon, broke under Sierra and was unlikely to ever be updated. Her choices were: Backup her hard disk, then erase it, reinstall El Capitan, and finally, restore her data from the backup, or buy a QuickBooks upgrade she neither wanted nor needed before Sierra.

Another friend was still using an ancient version of Microsoft Word (Office 2004); when he upgraded to Sierra he faced the same unpleasant choices.

The Moral of the Story

I know that software gets old and eventually stops working under new OS versions… but neither of these users knew that. All they knew was that they didn’t need an upgrade before they installed Sierra.

The moral of the story is that if you haven’t pulled the trigger already, it would behoove you to take a moment to visit Roaring Apps crowdsourced compatibility table to ensure that the apps you rely upon work properly with Sierra.

Visit RoaringApps to confirm Sierra compatibility.

Visit RoaringApps to confirm Sierra compatibility.

And, if you rely upon third-party hardware (like my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner), you might want to check your device’s Sierra compatibility on the manufacturer’s web site.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a hater. I like Sierra. It’s just that I hate to see users blindsided when the Sierra upgrade causes an app or device they rely on to fail.

Sierra is a solid upgrade, but you don’t have to install it today. And, when you do, you don’t have to do it blindly. Be smart and confirm that the apps and devices you depend on are going to function properly under Sierra. Then (and only then) it’s ok to pull the trigger.

And that’s all he wrote…

5 Comments Add a comment

  1. Bob LeVitus

    Upgrading to Sierra also broke Apple Mail on a MacBook Pro 17″ early 2011. Any suggestions?

    I’ve not heard of that happening before.

    Have you tried a Safe Boot since installing Sierra? I’ve found it fixes many things you’d never expect it to fix. Worth a shot.

    If Safe Boot doesn’t do the trick, I’d try reinstalling Sierra right on top of the previous install. It only replaces System stuff and leaves YOUR stuff alone and might fix your Mail issue. Or not.

    Good luck.




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  2. HB66

    IOS Sierra is the worst OS ever … I advise everyone not to upgrade unless you are 100% sure. On my MacBook Air, it simply does not work. It manages to crash every application (Outlook, Word, Safari, Firefox, Excel, PowerPoint, App Store, Preview etc etc, you name it and it manages to crash it), it does not recognise my HP printer / scanner (I have to use a web printer to print, but cannot scan anymore), the fan is working over time and the computer gets very hot, it fails to shut down, it fails to start, it fails to see my NAS (requiring a restart, which see previous point is a challenge), it does not recognise my Transcend, and on top of all this, it has slowed down my computer tremendously (you can type and see nothing appear on the screen for 5 – 10 secs). I had none of these problems before upgrading to Sierra … Be warned !




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  3. Beth Rettenmund

    I can’t wait to try your fix for Sierra and the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard. I have still been able to type with it, but no shortcut keys are working. I noticed this change around the time I updated to Sierra, but I had also reset the p-RAM, so initially I thought that might have had something to do with the keyboard issue. Sadly, I updated because my system has been running slower and slower, and had hoped moving to Sierra would be part of the speed solution. I haven’t seen any speed improvements, and it’s possible it’s now taking even longer. 🙁




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