Upgrading your Mac to the latest operating system has never been easier, but for a smooth upgrade experience we recommend going through a few preparatory steps before starting the process. In this article we will have a look at these steps, so read on to learn how to prepare your Mac for upgrading to the latest available operating system.
Check System Requirements
Apple releases a major update to its desktop operating system once a year. It previews the upcoming macOS at the WWDC in June, and the final version comes out in the fall (usually September). In the meantime, Apple issues several beta versions and – should you want to test it – it’s possible to join the public beta program.
First you should check the system requirements of the upcoming macOS update, as it usually means the end of support for older Macs. Apple has a dedicated support page where it specifies the general and hardware requirements that the operating systems needs. You can find out if your own hardware meets those requirements by clicking on the Apple icon and selecting “About this Mac”. The macOS version will be listed here, as will all of the Mac’s main hardware details.
As of writing this article, the latest available macOS is Sierra and the upcoming macOS is High Sierra. The good news is that if you are running Sierra then you’ll also be able to download High Sierra, which means Mac computers released in 2010 or later won’t need to upgrade. Also, make sure you are running the latest version of your current macOS version before proceeding to the major upgrade.
Apple says your Mac needs at least 2GB of RAM to run macOS Sierra. Fortunately, that’s no longer an issue since supported Macs already have at least 4GB. In terms of storage space, Apple recommends having at least 8GB of free space on the startup disk.
Make Sure Your Startup Disk Is Healthy
A very important step is to check your startup disk’s status. For that you can use Disk Utility, which can be found by using Finder and entering the app’s name or locating it in the Applications > Utilities folder. Once it is open, select the startup disk and click “Verify”. The app will do all the hard work for you, and simply follow the recommended steps if it finds any problems. Note that you’ll need to boot from another storage volume to be able to repair the drive using Disk Utility’s Repair Disk feature.
Clean Up the System of Junk
It wouldn’t make sense to move the trash you have accumulated in your old car to a brand new car just to keep it familiar, and that’s essentially what is happening with your computer if you update the system without first cleaning your Mac. Junk and other unnecessary files occupy precious space on your startup disk, and you don’t need them with the next version of macOS that you are upgrading to because the system and any apps you use will create their own cache and junk files. Hence a regular system-wide clean-up is a must before every major macOS upgrade. Use any third party app of your preference to do this, but we have found CleanMyMac and OnyX perform their jobs very well.
Back Up Your Mac
We cannot emphasize the importance of backups and the use of Time Machine enough. Apple has made backing up very easy, so it would be an irresponsible move not to use it. You can always restore your system to the previous state if anything goes wrong and recover all your files in their latest versions – even on a brand-new macOS – so long as they were backed up with Time Machine (or any other backup method of your choice).
Update to the Next Version of macOS
Here’s how to actually update your Mac to the next-generation macOS after the preparation is complete:
- Open the Mac App Store and search for the operating system.
- Click on Download.
- Add your Apple ID credentials if prompted.
- Let the Installer do its job and download the macOS.
- After the Installer has downloaded, follow the instructions in the pop-up window.
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