macOS 10.13 High Sierra release date, news and features

Earlier this year, at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2017), Apple revealed macOS 10.13 High Sierra. 

As you might have guessed from the subtle name change from last year's macOS Sierra, the differences found in macOS High Sierra are similar in magnitude to those we saw when OS X Leopard became Snow Leopard back in 2009.

While most Apple fans’ heads were turned to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X at the September 12 press event held at Steve Jobs Theater, Mac users rejoiced as the release date for macOS High Sierra was also announced for September 25.

As that golden date has come and gone at this point, you can net yourself the latest version of macOS right here and right now. It’s not perfect, though, especially as early adopters have reported severe delays in receiving iMessages and SMS texts in macOS 10.13 High Sierra, so if you run into any complications, you can fix them using our handy how-to guide.

  • Before long, some of the best laptops will run macOS High Sierra

Having launched in September of last year, the original macOS Sierra was very well received, bringing better integration between Macs running the software and iPhones and Apple Watch devices. Suffice to say, early impressions of macOS High Sierra are similarly positive despite minor glitches in the system. 

Although it’s not as substantial as you might expect from an entirely new operating system, you can at least take solace in the fact that macOS High Sierra won’t do you wrong, at least as we know thus far. Any major hindrances have likely been addressed by Apple already, albeit quietly in one of its stealthy supplemental updates.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The 2017 edition of Apple’s Mac operating system, macOS
  • When is it out? Available to install as of September 25
  • What will it cost? macOS High Sierra is free to download

macOS 10.13 High Sierra release date

Apple unveiled macOS 10.13 High Sierra at the WWDC 2017 keynote event, which came as little surprise, given that it's traditional for Apple to announce the latest version of its Mac software at its annual developer event.

Yet, it wasn’t until September 12 that Apple revealed that the full version of High Sierra would release on September 25. There was a developer version of the operating system you could enroll in leading into the final release, but fortunately that’s no longer necessary to take advantage of the latest features found in macOS 10.13.

Rather, by opening the App Store, it’s now easy as cake to download the full retail version of macOS High Sierra. Better yet, it doesn’t cost a thing, aside from the Apple tax you’ve already paid for owning a Mac computer. It’s 4.8GB in size, which isn’t tiny. But, then again, it’s also replacing your existing build of macOS, or OS X if you’re stuck in dinosaur times.

macOS 10.13 High Sierra features

Although some Hackintosh users are worried about the security checks on EFI firmware that will be automatically deployed every week, Apple has introduced a number of exciting new features with macOS 10.13 High Sierra. 

These include improvements to Safari – which will now thwart ad-tracking and auto-playing videos – and a more comprehensive Spotlight Search in the Mail App. Moreover, when you’re writing emails, the app now allows split view for the compose window – and, to make matters better, it uses up to 35% less disk space.

The Photos app has been updated in macOS 10.13 High Sierra as well, with a better sorting tool to boot. All of this is complemented by a new layout, better facial recognition thanks to neural networks, and better syncing across all Apple devices.

Editing tools, too, have seen improvements, in turn making it easier than ever to enhance the quality of your photos without learning the ins and outs of Photoshop or Camera RAW. And of course, you can count on Instagram-like filters being a part of this.

One of the biggest changes that comes with macOS High Sierra is with the file system. It’s ditching the HFS – which Apple has used for around 30 years, and is now using the Apple File System (APFS) instead. 

Every Mac that’s upgraded to macOS High Sierra will make this files system change automatically with the exception of those sporting Fusion Drives and older HDDs. Likewise, all new Macs will ship pre-formatted for APFS. 

To be exact, APFS is a 64-bit file system that supports native encryption and faster metadata operation. This may all sound a bit techy, but the bottom line is that this will make your Mac feel a lot faster, while also being more secure and more transparent about the nature of your files and folder contents.

The update also brings HEVC, or H.265, video compression to the Mac. Apple claims that this new standard can compress video files 40% more than the previous-generation H.264 standard. The end result will be faster video streams at higher resolutions – ahem, 4K – and smaller video files sizes when stored locally.

VR finally comes to the Mac

One of the biggest bits of news surrounding macOS High Sierra is that it will finally bring support for virtual reality headsets officially. Namely, the HTC Vive and Steam VR will work with Macs running the new OS this autumn.

However, to use such a device, you'll need at least a 5K iMac or MacBook Pro – or, any Mac that can run the new OS with an external graphics card box attached via Thunderbolt 3. Support for such devices will come part and parcel with macOS High Sierra, but won't be an active function until spring 2018.

macOS 10.13 High Sierra compatibility

Fortunately, in the act of creating a macOS iteration that only moderately shakes things up, the barrier to entry didn’t change at all. As long as you’re rocking one of the following Mac models, you’ll be good to go with macOS High Sierra on day one:

Bear in mind that if you want to take advantage of the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) benefits posed by macOS High Sierra, you’ll need a Mac donning – at the very least – an Intel sixth-generation Skylake processor. That means that, yes, Kaby Lake will do just fine. Perhaps, later on down the line, a future Mac Mini could also make its way into this category.

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this report