Last month I dedicated an entire column to the myriad reasons to avoid the first (and possibly second and third) releases of operating system upgrades. More specifically, I urged you not to install the first release of Big Sur, which became available last week.
Do As I Say, Not as I Do
If I weren’t a tech writer, I would have waited a few weeks before installing Big Sur, scouring the Internet for news and information on potential issues until it felt safe to upgrade. But, since my first obligation is to you, gentle reader, I ignored my own advice and installed Big Sur on my primary Mac a couple of days ago.
Of course, I made a Time Machine backup and a Carbon Copy Cloner clone of my Catalina drive and then tested both backups before pulling the trigger. Still, I’ve been running Big Sur for a couple of days, and I’m pleased to report that everything seems to work as well as or better than it did under Catalina.
Installation took around an hour. After my Mac restarted into Big Sur, I found a handful of onscreen notifications directing me to upgrade apps that included Microsoft Office, Turbo Boost Switcher Pro, Bartender, and SoundSource. I upgraded them and have had no real issues using Big Sur or any of the apps and utilities I rely upon every day.
Even so, I still urge you to wait a while before you install Big Sur. While I’ve had no issues personally, if you search the web for “Big Sur Installation Issues,” you’ll see plenty of reports of problems experienced by others. For example, former USA Today columnist Ed Baig, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of co-writing nearly two dozen books, had his first two Big Sur installation attempts fail. And, The Verge (and many other sources) have reported that some older MacBook Pros are being “bricked” during installation, getting stuck on a black screen of death and no known way to fix it.
Fix the Translucency Issue
I like the way Big Sur looks and feels for the most part, with one big exception: I don’t care for its super-translucent menu bar and Dock. Fortunately, the annoying transparency can easily be disabled by enabling Reduce Transparency in the Accessibility System Preferences pane’s Display tab.
If you prefer even more control over the menu bar’s appearance, such as separate settings for Light and Dark mode and a choice of solid background colors, check out Boring Old Menu Bar (BOMB) ($9.95 from publicspace.net).
Despite my having no trouble with Big Sur so far, my advice remains the same: Unless Big Sur offers a feature you can’t live without (which I consider unlikely), I recommend you wait for one or two bug-fix releases before you pull the trigger.