Before upgrading to the latest macOS, make sure it really is the latest macOS

It’s that time of the year where I strongly urge my customers to update their Mac system software to the latest OS if they’ve been holding off. Just last week Apple released the final update to macOS Mojave before they turn their attention to macOS Catalina which will be out this fall (September most likely). Apple will still release security patches but they are done tweaking the stability and performance of Mojave, so it is as mature as it’s going to get.

The weird thing with upgrading right now is that very likely your Mac silently downloaded Mojave in the background last fall, and it’s been sitting around doing nothing. Meaning if you go to the Mac App Store and click the “Install” button for Mojave it’s going to install the initial 10.14.0 release which is not nearly as polished as the 10.14.6 release that came out last week. Sure, you can always check for software updates after you upgrade, but sometimes the patches address problems with the actual upgrade process itself, so I always recommend installing the fully patched upgrade instead of doing it in two stages to avoid problems that Apple is already aware of and has already fixed.

It’s really pretty simple. All you have to do is open your Applications folder and delete “Install macOS Mojave”. Then empty your trash and download it again from the Mac App Store.

Here are detailed steps if you need them:

  1. Click Finder on your Dock (the Mac smiley face all the way to the left or the top)
  2. Open your Applications folder. Depending on your customizations everyone may be used to going in a different way but the one way that will work for everyone is to click the “Go” menu and choose “Applications”
  3. Locate “Install macOS Mojave” and click it once to highlight it. Put it in the trash by dragging it to the trash, pressing Command-Delete, or by clicking the “File” menu or the Gear icon > “Move to Trash”
  4. If you see any other “Install macOS” such-and-such programs that you don’t want anymore go ahead and delete those as well as they are enormous files.
  5. Empty your trash by clicking and holding the Trash icon on your Dock. Then choose “Empty Trash”
  6. Go back to the Mac App Store (Apple menu > App Store) and search for Mojave (or use the link below)
  7. Go through the installation process. Depending on the speed of your internet it could take a few minutes to start the installer (if on cable) or a day (if you’re on DSL). Once the installation begins you won’t be able to use your computer for an hour or two, during which you should leave it connected to power with the lid open if it’s a laptop computer.

If for some reason you have software that won’t run on Mojave or hardware that isn’t compatible, you can still upgrade to last year’s software, macOS 10.13 High Sierra. High Sierra will receive security patches until the fall of next year (2020). I recommend going through the same process above first, however, removing the “Install macOS High Sierra” app and downloading it again to make sure you are beginning with the final release of High Sierra.

macOS 10.12 Sierra will stop receiving security patches in a few months, and older software has already stopped getting patches as well.

To see what version of macOS you are running you can read my article about that.