Apple macOS High Sierra: A cheat sheet

Version 10.13 of Apple's macOS--High Sierra--made its debut at the company's 2017 WWDC event. Here's what businesses and professionals need to know about the operating system.

With High Sierra, version 10.13 of Apple's macOS operating system, the company added subtle updates to improve privacy in web browsing, rolled out its new file system as standard, and introduced updates that would allow for the creation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content. While the updates may seem simple, they will help set the stage for Apple's approach to computing in the future.

To help tech leaders and IT pros better understand macOS High Sierra, we've put together the most important details and resources in this cheat sheet. This is a "living" article that will be updated and refreshed as new, relevant information becomes public.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's cheat sheets and smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What is macOS High Sierra? macOS High Sierra is version 10.13 of Apple's desktop operating system (OS) series, macOS. It includes updates to Safari, Mail, Photos, its file system, and more.
  • Why does macOS High Sierra matter? As a version of macOS, High Sierra will define the user experience for Apple computer users across laptops and desktops in terms of featureset and UI.
  • Who does macOS High Sierra affect? The launch of macOS High Sierra affects Mac users and admins who have a compatible system and are planning on upgrading to it, or non-Mac users who are planning to purchase an Apple computer in the future.
  • When is macOS High Sierra available? High Sierra was made generally available on September 25, 2017.
  • How do I take advantage of macOS High Sierra? High Sierra is available for download through the Mac App Store.

SEE: Apple's first employee: The remarkable odyssey of Bill Fernandez (PDF download) (TechRepublic)

Image: Apple

What is macOS High Sierra?

Apple's macOS 10.13 High Sierra is the latest Mac operating system, designed for use on iMac desktops and MacBook laptops. It was announced at the 2017 WWDC event in San Jose by Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi.

One of the biggest updates unveiled with High Sierra is that the Apple web browser, Safari, will now block AutoPlay videos, so users won't encounter videos automatically playing when they open a web page. While the feature will improve the browsing experience for many users, it will make it more difficult for Apple to compete with advertising giants Google and Facebook.

High Sierra is bringing Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Safari, a new feature that will block trackers of user data. "Now your privacy, your browsing history is your own," Federighi said at WWDC.

Mail search on Mac is improved with High Sierra, while Photos received a new design and layout, along with better facial recognition support. High-efficiency video coding (HEVC) H.265 will be supported by macOS High Sierra.

With the announcement of macOS High Sierra, Federighi said that the Apple File System (APFS) would be the default for all Macs moving forward, and the introduction of Metal 2 will make it easier to leverage GPU computing on a Mac, and will support more VR and AR content.

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Why does macOS High Sierra matter?

With an ever-increasing amount of work being done online, the refinements to Safari in High Sierra could help position Macs as a more viable business machine for certain industries. Additionally, Apple boosted the browser's speed. "Safari is the world's fastest desktop browser with High Sierra," Federighi said.

The additional privacy measures will help Safari—and, thus, High Sierra—to win over some other users as well. New Safari Reader features will improve the readability of some web pages and articles by eliminating additional ads and unrelated content.

In the Notes app, tables can now be added to make quick graphical representations of something a user is working on. Business travelers can track flights in the Spotlight search window in High Sierra, making for a more efficient and productive process.

In keeping with its reputation as a powerhouse for creatives, Apple added some new features for its Photos app. Improved facial recognition shows that Apple is investing in the underlying technologies that power artificial intelligence (AI), which is an area it has been lagging behind relative to competitors like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. In High Sierra, Photos will integrate with other editors like Photoshop and Pixelmator, which could help draw more creatives deeper into Apple's proprietary ecosystem.

High Sierra is Apple's first major foray into AR and VR technologies. Metal 2 will make it easier for users to utilize GPU compute, but it will also support VR content creation—a first for Macs. Unity, Epic, and SteamVR integrations, along with Final Cut Pro X support for 360 video will help attract the next generation of creatives to Apple machines.

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Who does macOS High Sierra affect?

On a high level, the debut of macOS High Sierra matters to current Mac users and anyone considering a Mac for their next machine. However, it has specific takeaways for certain subsets of users.

Creative professionals will be able to utilize the H.265 support to stream 4K video, while the new Photos app could help boost editing efficiently. Creatives looking to develop VR content could leverage the new OS features to build out their portfolio, too.

Developers will be affected by the introduction of macOS High Sierra, as they can use Metal 2 to improve application development.

Security conscious users will likely be interested in the new privacy features of Safari, such as AutoPlay blocking and Intelligent Tracking Prevention. And professional users might see slight productivity improvements with the updates to Mail and Notes.

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When is macOS High Sierra available?

On June 5, 2017, Apple unveiled macOS High Sierra for the first time at WWDC. It is only the second instance of Apple's use of the macOS moniker, which replaced the previous OS X title in 2016 when macOS Sierra was introduced.

At the WWDC event in June, macOS High Sierra was made available in beta. Apple released macOS High Sierra for general download on September 25, 2017.

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How do I take advantage of macOS High Sierra?

Currently, macOS High Sierra is available in the Mac App Store, but it will only run on certain Mac computers. Interested users with a compatible machine can download the OS today.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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