What I learned running the Mac High Sierra beta

I generally steer clear of beta software because even the "beta-tested" stuff usually has too many bugs. But I really wanted to check out APFS, so I installed the High Sierra public beta 2 and, later, beta 3 on my MacBook. Here's what I found.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

My MacBook -- my coffee shop-and-travel machine -- is not used for heavy lifting. Its main use is keystroke capture as I write several thousand words each week.

For writing, I mostly use text editors or applications, like Notational Velocity, which incorporate a text editor. Take it as a given that an OS that hosed text editing would not be released, because developers all use text editors.

Bottom line: I'm not risking much when I install beta software on my MacBook. If you only have one machine, running a beta OS is a bad idea.

Bugs in the High Sierra beta

After installing the beta, I tried opening apps that have encountered problems in the past, such as Final Cut Pro. When Sierra came out, my copy of FCP would not startup until the .3 version of macOS.

So, I started FCP, Motion, Compressor, audio editors, transcoding apps, several media players, Steam, and Parallels Desktop, which runs virtual machines. They all worked. Joy!

But all is not well in beta land. I've found a number of things that didn't work or, in beta-speak, "exhibited unexpected behavior."

These include:

  • Third-party disk health utilities offer error messages due to the new APFS file system. When will they get updated to High Sierra? How much will they cost? And will they even be needed?
  • Drag and drop doesn't work. However, copy and paste works very quickly, as APFS promised even with gigabyte files.
  • Hot corners didn't work in beta 2, but it started working in beta 3.
  • Some utilities, such as Little Snitch, don't work.
  • A favorite utility, Bartender, can't include Apple menu bar items because of macOS changes.

On the plus side

The install process, which includes converting the old HFS+ file system to Apple's new APFS file system, didn't seem to take much longer than any other macOS install. I run FileVault, and as advertised, the install also converted that to APFS without decrypting the data.

Apple's Disk Utility works fine with APFS as well. Time Machine is also supported.

The Storage Bits take

All in all, I've been pleasantly surprised at how well the High Sierra betas function. That said, I'm not putting them on my Retina iMac. I'll wait for the official High Sierra release.

My main takeaway is that High Sierra is shaping up to be a solid release, more solid than I found Sierra to be.

However, it is in the nature of bugs that with every 10x of installs, new bugs are found. When the installs go from -- I'm guessing -- a hundred thousand or so beta installs to 10 million Macs, more bugs will be found.

Which means that, as with any major OS upgrade, from Apple or anyone else, if a stable machine is critical to your survival, you'd be wise to wait for the 10.13.1 release of High Sierra.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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