Apple Needs a Smarter Way to Encourage macOS Upgrades

3 minute read
| Editorial
High Sierra GM Candidate

macOS High Sierra is a worthy upgrade, but like any, should be approached with care.

Back when macOS High Sierra was released (Sep 25), I published an article on how to get ready.

There, I outlined the mindful steps one can and should take before undertaking a major macOS upgrade.

  1. Make sure all important, “mission critical” apps have been updated to support the new macOS. Especially important are the apps used to back up macOS itself.
  2. Check System integrity with the Disk Utility.
  3. Make sure one has several, verifiable backups. Preferable a bootable clone so that one can return to the pre-install state if necessary.
  4. Be mindful that, in this release, SSDs will be force-updated from the HFS+ file system to APFS. And all that that implies.

Following these steps will help ensure a good experience and allow for a graceful recovery if something goes wrong.

Apple’s Pushy Push

You can imagine my dismay when I read Adam Engst’s article from November 15.

The issue here is that Apple has started the process of downloading High Sierra in the background and then inviting the user in a notification offering to start the install. Author Engst explains:

What happens is that Apple’s Software Update automatically downloads High Sierra in the background and then presents the notification shown at the top of this article to the user, offering just two choices: Install and Details.

macOS upgrade notification.

Too simple, too urgent, not backed up with any logic.

Because the installer is already downloaded, if the user clicks the wrong button, the install starts immediately. This may not be what the user wants, being possibly caught unprepared. Author Engst explains how to bail out immediately.

The Mac App Store has made macOS banner invitations before, but the user typically had to initiate a download. That is, if he/she was careful to click the “more…” button and not fall for the “Update all” gimmick.

A Better Way

I can fully understand Apple’s enthusiasm to get its many users to the latest version of macOS. Important security fixes come with every major (and many minor) macOS upgrades. And yet, the simple minded idea that the user is still running Sierra is not a sound basis on which to encourage an update with a UI/UX that isn’t bullet-proof in its clarity and facility for backing out easily.

Another issue is the severity of the security fixes. Apple takes a happy-go-lucky approach. All’s well. Just upgrade! You’ll be happy. Any discussion of the gravity of security issues would be seen, in my experience, as alarming to the user.

And yet, if the customer, it is argued, needs to take responsibility for maintaining apps and backing up, why can’t they also take responsibility for assessing their security posture? It seems Apple just wants to ignore all these details for the sake of boasting about how popular its new macOS is and cite very good adoption statistics. Or else there are urgent but unspoken security issues.

macOS HS adoption.

macOS High Sierra adoption was good at four weeks. Credit: Bombich Software.

The tech community is currently rich with discussions about artificial intelligence and machine learning. And yet, macOS is crippled in its ability to partner with the user and intelligently advise the user about the seriousness of a pending upgrade.

There are lots of ways to do this. One way might be to develop a hierarchy of urgencies. If the user is on, say, macOS Yosemite, drop out of simple notifications and bring up an information window that describes how vulnerable this old macOS is on the internet. Later versions of macOS can be described appropriately.

Another idea involves full-featured apps that can’t be in the Mac App Store—and hence cannot show up as update candidates there. For example, Carbon Copy Cloner, the full GraphicConverter and MS Office. A macOS autoscan of the Applications folder can probably tell a story about how wise it is to pressure the user into a major macOS upgrade at that very moment.

This is going to be even more critical in macOS 10.14 where, so far as we know now, 32-bit apps just won’t launch after the upgrade. Users will have to be even more prepared.

End of Rant

In summary, I find it less than tactful and overly simple-minded for Apple to assume that, at any random moment, the user should be invited in a popup notification, out of the blue, to make a major upgrade decision. Care, advice and consent are welcome here.

Just as the password analyzer shows a bar displaying the strength of the password, Apple’s macOS could periodically warn the user, in a pleasant and formal way, that an upgrade is more and more urgent as time goes on. The user then has complete control, with no confusion, as to when to make preparations and conduct a mindful upgrade. Near trickery is not needed.

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BTW, a bit off topic John Martellaro, but in relation to my previous reply above, any update about this?

Mac Owners Should Hold Off on New Samsung T1 Flash SSD

T3 and T5 have been released since then! A review about T5 would be great. Thanks!


Waiting for this to upgrade to macOS 10.13 High Sierra:

APFS support for external SSD booting disks like Samsung Portable SSD T5.
APFS support for Time Machine disks, including external SSD like T5.
Last but not least, full DiskWarrior support for APFS disks.

Will it come for 10.13 or 10.14 or latter?


Yes, Thank-you Dear JM, I completely agree: I do feel a bit tricked into it. Having recently bench-prepped about 50 new (Summer and Fall 2017) Windows 10 Pro Dells and HPs with OS updates, I can safely say that Microsoft system updates are a sad, terrible mess by comparison, convoluted, with internal conflicts, even crashing several of these brand new, out of the box machines, before any 3rd party software is even added. Surprise, forced updates take over (‘highjack’ is fair to say) one’s productivity time with alarming frequency. My hackles are up. Mac OS update and upgrade routines are… Read more »


More People need to just be more responsible for their own data. For heck sake I am shocked to how many people don’t back up.

If you have mission critical apps and or data just do your homework on your own and check if the app works! Stop blaming others


Apple is also very irritating when they give you dialog boxes that essentially say “Install Now or Install Later”. (And then, “Should I run the install overnight…..while you’re not looking!”)

Apple is the new Hilter!
They know what’s best for the world …..and you better get in lock-step with them (and stop criticizing them).

There’s little freedom of choice anymore. That’s getting edged out.
Power users….and individualists……need not apply. Go to another platform. We (Apple) don’t really want you around.

I still run El Capitan. I never upgrade macOS until the end of a major version cycle of updates, and often skip a major version altogether. Why? Because Apple keeps mucking around with features in the name of security, making it less friendly; and keeps dumbing down useful utilities etc. In general, macOS is steadily become less friendly and less eloquent. But I will probably update to High Sierra when a new major version comes out just to stay not too far out from current development. But that’s the only reason. If Apple wants to encourage me to upgrade with… Read more »