macOS High Sierra news, updates and features

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Now that macOS High Sierra has been succeeded by macOS Mojave, you may think that the mountain-themed OS is a relic. However, because macOS Mojave requires newer devices, people will be running macOS High Sierra for quite a while. So, let’s take this opportunity to dive into everything you need to know about the outgoing macOS High Sierra.

In its time, macOS High Sierra wasn't immune to problems, like password vulnerabilities and other security exploits. However, as these problems were fixed by Apple and macOS High Sierra brought a new file system and built-in photo editing tools – the Cupertino company more than made up for any issues faced by macOS High Sierra at launch.

While it was current, macOS 10.13 High Sierra was held back by the same thing that held Mountain Lion back when it succeeded Lion – it brought in some interesting new features, but failed to innovate in a major way. However, macOS Mojave changes everything.

Here is everything you need to know about macOS High Sierra.

Cut to the chase

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

macOS 10.13 High Sierra release date

Apple revealed macOS 10.13 High Sierra at the WWDC 2017 keynote, which is no surprise, given Apple’s tradition of announcing 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 release of High Sierra would launch little more than a week later, on September 25. There was a developer version of the operating system you could enroll in leading to the final release, but luckily that’s no longer required to take advantage of the latest features found in macOS 10.13.

The final build of macOS High Sierra, 10.13.6 is available right now. Beside a few bug fixes, it integrates Airplay 2 into iTunes – though you will need to update iTunes to take advantage of it. You can download the update from the Mac App Store. More importantly, this update contains the bug fix that stops the Core i9 MacBook Pro from thermal throttling.

macOS High Sierra users can also update to Safari 12 today, which not only supports website icons in your tabs, but also has better security features. For example, websites can no longer track your specific Mac when using the native web browser.

If you’re ready to jump to the next version of macOS , you can download macOS Mojave today. And, fortunately, we can show you how to download and install macOS Mojave.

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. Unfortunately, that discounts everything released prior to 2015, but on the bright side, everything else macOS High Sierra brings to the table is fair game.

macOS 10.13 High Sierra features

Beyond the Hackintosh users being reasonably worried about the newly enforced security checks on EFI firmware automatically implemented each week, Apple has revealed a number of awesome new features with macOS 10.13 High Sierra. 

These include improvements to Safari – which will now stop ad-tracking and auto-playing videos in their tracks – and a more expansive Spotlight Search in the Mail App. Additionally, when you’re composing 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 also been updated, with a better sorting tool to boot. All of this is accompanied by a better layout, improved facial recognition thanks to neural networks, and improved syncing across all Apple devices – this all makes macOS High Sierra’s photo experience better than ever before.

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 has been upgraded to macOS High Sierra will receive these file system updates automatically with the exception of those sporting Fusion Drives and older HDDs. Similarly, 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. Unfortunately, this comes with the caveat of Apple’s confirmation that 32-bit apps will be discontinued in later versions of macOS High Sierra.

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 GPU solution. Support for such devices comes part and parcel with macOS High Sierra, but won’t be an active function until later this year.

The good news is that macOS High Sierra comes with a helping of refinements to its graphics API that make up for the scarce GPU support. Metal was a step forward for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, but with Metal 2, Apple promises less strain on the CPU as well as proper machine learning and better Xcode profiling/debugging in macOS High Sierra.

Perhaps more important, though, is the fact that MoltenVK was recently brought to Mac by Khronos Group. An implementation of the open-source Vulkan API, it’s said to bring frame rate gains of up to 50% in Dota 2. As it’s cross-platform, too – being supported by Windows and Linux as well as Apple’s devices – MoltenVK is likely to be more widely adopted by creators.

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this report