macOS Sierra

macOS Sierra brings some important changes to the way you use your Mac. If you are thinking of upgrading, read this first!

Although Apple makes new software updates available to as many older devices as possible, there are always some reasons why it may not be in your best interest to install the latest and greatest, even if your Mac is compatible.

Is my Mac compatible?

If you have the following model of Mac, you can download and install macOS Sierra:

  • Mac Pro (mid 2010 or newer)
  • iMac (late 2009 or newer)
  • Mac mini (mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook (late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (late 2010 or newer)

If your Mac is older than any of the models listed above. You can't install macOS Sierra.

Even if you're Mac is on the compatibility list, that doesn't mean you can take advantage of all of the new features in Sierra. There are other things to consider. You'll need a newer model Mac and a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch to use such things as Handoff, Auto Unlock, Siri, Apple Pay on the Web, Apple's Continuity features, and more.

In general, in order to use all of the new features in macOS Sierra, you should have the following Mac:

  • Mac Pro (late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac (late 2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (late 2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (mid-2012 or newer)
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (mid 2012 or newer)

You should also have an iPhone 6 or newer running iOS 10. If you hope to use Auto Unlock, you also need a Mac that is from 2013 or newer and an Apple Watch running watchOS 3.

In order to download and install macOS Sierra, your Mac will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Your Mac must be running OS X 10.7.5 or later.
  • You'll need 2GB of memory.
  • You'll need 8.8GB of available storage.
  • To use iCloud, iTunes, and the Mac App Store, you will also need an Apple ID.

Do you meet the requirements to use all of macOS Sierra's new features? If not, you may want to think about whether it is worth the effort to install it.

Any Mac older than 2012 doesn't get any of the Continuity features, like Handoff, AirDrop, Universal Clipboard on your Mac, and Apple Pay on the Web. Are these cross-device features important to you? Maybe it's time to upgrade your Mac.

I'm ready to try it out, but what if I don't like it?

Upgrading to a new software system, especially on a computer, can be a big upheaval that causes stress and confusion (Where'd they move the "download" button to?). You might be excited about macOS Sierra after reading about everything it can do, but quickly decide that it's not right for you.

The first, and most important, thing you should do before upgrading to macOS Sierra (or updating any software, no matter how small), is to back up your Mac.

Next, it is not a bad idea to think about partitioning your Mac so you can install macOS Sierra in tandem with your current Mac operating system. That way, you can get used to the changes while still having access to what you are familiar with. It will also make it easier to simply delete the software if you know you don't want to use Sierra at all.

If you've downloaded macOS Sierra on your main hard drive, you're not out of luck. You can always downgrade back to your previous OS X.

OK. I'm just going to go for it!


It's not always such a good idea to download a huge update on Day One. There are a number of factors that can give you a negative experience right out of the gate, which might leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Hundreds (or even thousands) of people will hit the download button the exact moment they hear that macOS Sierra is available to the public, which could put a strain on the servers and make it take a really long time for you to complete the process.

With changes in macOS Sierra, it also means that some third-party apps will need to be updated for compatibility. Not all developers will have their updates ready right away. If there are any apps that you just can't live without, you might be forced to ... well ... live without until they are updated. The best way to see if your must-have apps are going to be ready for macOS Sierra is to visit the companies' websites or check their social medial feeds.

Proceed with caution

If, after reading everything I suggested, you still think you are ready to upgrade to macOS Sierra, then by all means, go for it! I've been using it for a couple of months now, and frankly, I love it. Just make sure you've got a current backup of your Mac, just in case something goes wrong.

Note: Updated to reflect an error in compatibility for texting and calling with older Macs.