How to safely install macOS Sierra (and revert if needed)

Yesterday Apple announced the release date of the newest version of its OS, not called OS X anymore, but macOS instead.

The new macOS Sierra (10.12) will be released on Sep 20, 2016.

The temptation is huge to try it, see what’s new and benefit from the newest features and possibilities of Apple’s newest OS.


Learning from the past?

However there is also a risk: In the past we have seen that some applications did not work well (or at all) on new versions of OS X. With El Capitan, many music applications took months to support it, as Apple changed some underlying technologies needed for them to work.

And though QuarkXPress was certified and officially supported just nine days after the release of El Capitan, some 3rd party XTensions (plug-ins) had some issues.

So to state the obvious: A new OS can potentially stop you from producing/working.


What’s best practice to install/use macOS Sierra?

It’s quite easy:

  1. If you have a “play system”, use that to test macOS Sierra and all applications critical for your workflow.
  2. In any case, always have a backup or better a clone available (and create them before you upgrade to macOS Sierra)
  3. Create yourself a backdoor to be able to revert to your previous OS X:


Remember, out-of-the-box there is no possibility to revert to your previous version of OS X, so you either need to create a backup via Time Machine and other methods. Or – better – use the above mentioned tip to create yourself a backdoor, as it is much more convenient by allowing you to work with both setups and revert immediately should you decide to do so.


When will QuarkXPress support macOS Sierra?

Though we do not know of any critical issues of QuarkXPress 2016 with the pre-release of macOS Sierra, Quark cannot foresee what Apple might still change between now and shipping. Therefore Quark needs to wait until Apple releases macOS Sierra (on Sep 20) and then test QuarkXPress 2016 on the release version of macOS Sierra. That will typically take 2-3 weeks, though it might be faster (as written, last year it took just nine days). Afterwards Quark can certify and officially support QuarkXPress 2016 on Sierra, which might coincide with a new update of QuarkXPress.

UPDATE Oct 3, 2016: QuarkXPress 2016 is now officially supported on macOS Sierra:

QuarkXPress supported on macOS Sierra

What about the new file system (APFS) of macOS Sierra?

Apple also will feature a new file system in Sierra, APFS. APFS sounds amazing and promises to give features that will help to ensure data safe and speed up operations.

However currently (Sep 8, 2016) Apple lists a lot of restrictions in APFS still and classes it as a Developer Preview:

Apple writes there:

What are the limitations of Apple File System in macOS Sierra?

macOS Sierra includes a Developer Preview release of Apple File System. As a Developer Preview, it has several limitations:

  • Startup Disk: An APFS-formatted volume cannot be used as a startup disk.
  • Case Sensitivity: Filenames are case-sensitive only.
  • Time Machine: Time Machine backups are not supported.
  • FileVault: APFS-formatted volumes cannot be encrypted using FileVault.
  • Fusion Drive: Apple File System cannot use Fusion Drives.

Apple further writes: “Apple plans to release Apple File System as a bootable file system in 2017.”

So until Apple doesn’t class APFS as “production quality” and Quark has been able to test a production quality release, for now QuarkXPress will NOT support APFS. Until then, please use a backup when you test APFS in your production environment.