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macOS 10.12 Sierra
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macOS 10.12 Sierra Frequently Asked Questions

Article ID = 160
Article Title = macOS 10.12 Sierra Frequently Asked Questions
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 13th June 2016
Article Last Updated = 24th August 2017
Article URL = http://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?160

Article Brief Description:
Frequently Asked Questions about macOS 10.12 Sierra

macOS 10.12 Sierra Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When was macOS 10.12 Sierra released?
A. Sierra was released on the 20th September 2016. Buy it now on the Mac App Store
Q. How much will macOS 10.12 Sierra cost?
A. It is a FREE download via the Mac App Store Buy it now on the Mac App Store
Q. In our family/household/business the different Macs have different iTunes / App Store accounts on them. Do I have to download Sierra multiple times?
A. No. You can have more than one iTunes / App Store authorisation on a single machine. Use one of the iTunes / App Store accounts to authorise each computer in the family/household/business in turn to download and install Sierra (in the App Store application click on the "Purchases" tab).
NOTE: Mac App Store authorisations (for consumers) are different to iTunes authorisations. Mac App Store authorisations are unlimited whereas the iTunes authorisation limit is 10.
Q. How do I install Sierra on multiple computers?
A. Option 1: Download Sierra individually on each computer at ~5GB in size each time.
A. Option 2: Download the Sierra installer on one computer (at ~5GB in size), quit the installer and copy the installer to each computer's Applications folder that you want to install Sierra on.
A. Option 3: Download the Sierra installer on one computer (at ~5GB in size) and obtain the macOS Install Disc Image to use on each computer that you want to install Sierra on.
Q. Which Macs can I install Sierra on?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs are compatible with Sierra:
  • MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 17" (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
NOTE: All Xserve models are now unsupported.
NOTE: You will also need at least OS X 10.7.5 and an Apple ID to be able to obtain Sierra from the Mac App Store.
Q. How can I check what specifications my computer has or graphics capability it has?
Q. Which Mac do I have?
A. You can check "Processor", "Memory" and macOS/OS X/Mac OS X "Version" by going to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary (hint - clicking on the version number will give you the "build" number).
A. To check your Mac's "Model Name" go to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary > check for the computer name in the top line e.g. "MacBook Pro" (this can only be checked with OS X 10.7 or later)
A. To check your Mac's model date version go to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary > check the details after the Model Name e.g. "Early 2015" (this can only be checked with OS X 10.7 or later) - to be more specific and exact you can check what "Model Identifier" your Mac has by:
  • If you are running Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Profiler application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right.
  • If you are running OS X 10.7 or OS X 10.8 go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right under 'Hardware Overview'.
  • If you are running OS X 10.9 or later go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "Overview" tab in the top left > click the "System Report…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right under 'Hardware Overview'.
A. To check what graphics capability your Mac has:
  • If you are running Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Profiler application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
  • If you are running OS X 10.7 or OS X 10.8 go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
  • If you are running OS X 10.9 or later go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "Overview" tab in the top left > click the "System Report…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
A. To check your Mac's "Model Number" it is usually printed/engraved on the outside of the computer somewhere (it usually begins with the letter A or M).
Q. My Mac has the correct type of processor but I don't have enough RAM. What can I do?
A. All the supported Macs can run at least 2GB of RAM so all you need to do is make sure your computer has at least 2GB RAM installed. Most older Macs usually have 2 or 4 memory slots so it is best to upgrade to as much RAM as you can afford the first time. If your Mac supports 8GB or more (like some MacBook Pros / minis do) then upgrade to the maximum - In the UK we recommend Kingston Technology lifetime warranty memory for your Mac. Newer Macs have their RAM soldered on the motherboard and cannot be upgraded but all of these models have at least 4GB in the first place.
Q. I have a compatible Mac but I am running Mac OS X 10.5.x so how do I install Sierra?
A. You will need to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leoaprd first, then upgrade to a newer operating system and then finally upgrade to Sierra:
  1. Buy/upgrade to/install Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (£19.99)
  2. Install an intermediate version of OS X before Sierra
  3. Download/install macOS 10.12 from the Mac App Store
Q. I have a compatible Mac but I am running Mac OS X 10.6.x so how do I install Sierra?
A. You will need to upgrade to a newer operating system first, then upgrade to Sierra, e.g. install one of the following first:
Q. I have a compatible Mac and I am running OS X 10.7.5 or later so how do I download/install Sierra from the Mac App Store?
A. See this article.
Q. I have OS X 10.7.5 or later but my internet connection is slow. Will this be a problem?
A. No, but be warned, the Sierra installer is ~5GB in size so it may take some time to download.
Q. I have OS X 10.7.5 or later but I don't have a permanent connection to the internet. Will this be a problem?
A. Yes. The Mac App Store purchase of Sierra will require an internet connection. See the options listed in answer to the next question.
Q. I have OS X 10.7.5 or later but I have an internet access data cap in place / I cannot download something that is ~5GB in size. What can I do?
A. Sierra will not be available on optical disc or a USB thumb drive so your options are:
  1. Use a different internet connection to yours that does not have an internet access data cap in place.
  2. Go to an Apple Retail Store where you can install Sierra from their local server.
Q. If there is no physical Sierra disc/USB thumb drive and I install Sierra but run into trouble what can I do?
A. If you downloaded Sierra from the Mac App Store: A. If your Mac came with macOS 10.12 Sierra:
Q. What new features does Sierra have?
A. See Apple's official macOS Sierra web page. MacStrategy's recommended features to note are:
  • Siri - on Mac desktops for the first time including Dock icon and menu bar options
  • Auto-unlock via authorised, nearby Apple Watch - requires iCloud account with Two-Factor (not Two-Step) Authentication enabled + a 2013 model Mac or later + iOS 10 or later + watchOS 3.0 or later
  • (Optional) Universal "continuity" clipboard across macOS and iOS devices with the same Apple ID via iCloud
  • (Optional) "Desktop" and "Documents" folders shared across macOS and iOS devices with the same Apple ID via iCloud Drive
  • (Optional) Automatic archiving "Optimized Storage" of old, infrequently accessed data via iCloud storage and other options
  • Apple Pay support within (Safari) web browser and payment via Touch ID on an authorised iOS device
  • Picture-In-Picture (PIP) support including in "full-screen" mode
  • Tabbed windows for all applications (that support the standard Apple document window model)
  • Return of RAID in software support via Disk Utility application
  • Phone Calling from your Mac - requires an iPhone with iOS 8 or later and an activated carrier plan
  • SMS from your Mac - requires an iPhone with iOS 8.1 or later and an activated carrier plan
NOTE: For the minimum system requirements of various new features see the relevant Q&A further down this page.
Q. Sierra appears to rely on iCloud a lot. Do I have to have an iCloud account (Apple ID) to install/use Sierra?
A. You will need an Apple ID to use the Mac App Store to purchase Sierra in the first place but once it is installed you may not need to use iCloud. An Apple ID can be your iTunes account if you have one.
macOS 10.12 Sierra - go to Apple menu > System Preferences > iCloud. You have control over:
  • iCloud Drive - with individual control over "Desktop & Documents Folders" + individual application storage
  • Photos†
  • Mail†
  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Reminders†
  • Safari†
  • Notes† - upgraded notes require iOS 10 or later, macOS 10.12 or later
  • Keychain (in the cloud)†
  • Back To My Mac
  • Find My Mac
† - This information can only be synchronise across multiple iOS devices/Mac computers if you have an iCloud account (Apple ID) - you cannot synchronise these types of data via USB/iTunes.
Q. Does Sierra use Core Storage?
A. Yes. Disk Utility (in Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities folder) gives you access to some Core Storage features and formatting.
Q. I've heard Sierra has a new System font different to OS X 10.10 Yosemite and earlier. Can I delete/change the font?
A. No. Well, not officially. There are third party "hacks" out there to accomplish the job - do so at your own risk - An internet search engine is your friend.
Q. I don't like the way Sierra looks. Can I change it back to look like my previous OS?
A. Most of the new look and feel cannot be changed (see Q&A above regarding the new system wide font). However, if you find the transparent/muted effects annoying you can reduce those effects by going to Apple menu > System Preferences > Accessibility > select Display on the left and tick "Reduce transparency" plus you can also try ticking "Increase contrast" too.
Q. I've heard Sierra includes something called "differential privacy". What is it?
A. Recode have an excellent article about it. Basically, starting with macOS 10.12 Sierra/iOS 10 Apple will begin collecting certain types of data - specifically, the decision to allow Apple to use your data will be up to you and require your opt-in consent. At the moment Apple are stating that differential privacy will initially be limited to specific areas of macOS:
  1. Improve autocorrect suggestions
  2. Lookup hints within notes
Q. I've heard Sierra includes "Optimized Storage". What is this?
A. See our separate article all about this new feature.
Q. I've heard Sierra includes a Universal Clipboard continuity feature across multiple computers/iOS devices with the same Apple ID. What if I don't want to share the clipboard via the cloud?
A. This feature is only turned on if you login to an iCloud account via the iCloud System Preference pane. However, once you are logged in, this feature is turned on by default and cannot be indvidually turned off/on - this may be a privacy/security issue for some people. MacRumors stated that "Apple has implemented an expiration for Universal Clipboard, so you only have a few minutes to paste something to another device once it's been copied. After that expiration time, which appears to be about two minutes, cross-device paste stops working and will need to be reactivated with another copy."
Q. I've heard Sierra includes the ability to share Desktop and Documents folders across multiple computers/iOS devices with the same Apple ID. What if I don't want to share this information via the cloud?
A. This is an optional feature, is off by default and can be turned on/off via the macOS Sierra iCloud System Preference pane. However, you are either sharing both the "Desktop" + "Documents" folders or not - there is no individual control over each folder.
Q. Which Macs support Handoff, Instant Hotspot, and Universal Clipboard?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs are compatible with Handoff, Instant Hotspot, and Universal Clipboard:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" (2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (2012 or newer)
  • iMac (2012 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
NOTE: No MacBook Pro 17" model supports these features.
NOTE: Handoff requires an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with a Lightning connector and iOS 8 or later. Instant Hotspot requires an iPhone or iPad with cellular connectivity with a Lightning connector and iOS 8.1 or later. Requires Personal Hotspot service through your carrier.
Q. How do I disable Handoff / Universal Clipboard / Synced Calls / Synced Messages?
To disable Handoff:
  • On a Mac, go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > General > UNTICK "Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices"
  • On an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, go to the Settings app > General > Handoff > turn OFF "Handoff"
  • On an Apple Watch, go to the Apple Watch app (on your iPhone) > General > turn OFF "Enable Handoff"
To disable Synced Calls:
  • On a Mac, open the FaceTime application > FaceTime menu > Preferences… > Settings tab > UNTICK "Calls From iPhone"
  • On an iPhone, go to the Settings app > Phone > Calls on Other Devices > turn OFF "Allow Calls on Other Devices"
  • On an iPad/iPod touch, go to the Settings app > FaceTime > turn OFF "Calls from iPhone"
To disable Synced Messages:
  • On an iPhone, go to the Settings app > Messages > Text Message Forwarding > turn OFF text message forwarding for devices as required
Q. Which Macs support Auto Unlock?
A. All 2013 models or later - requires an Apple Watch with watchOS 3 and an iPhone 5 or later.
Q. Which Macs support Apple Pay on the Web?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs support Apple Pay on the Web:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" (2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (2012 or newer)
  • iMac (2012 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
NOTE: Apple Pay on the Web requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 10 or later or an Apple Watch with watchOS 3.
Q. Which Macs support AirDrop?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs support AirDrop:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" (2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (2012 or newer)
  • iMac (2012 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
NOTE: AirDrop to iOS devices requires an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with a Lightning connector and iOS 7 or later or an Apple Watch with watchOS 3.
NOTE: AirDrop between two Mac computers is supported by the following Mac models:
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" (Late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (Late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 17" (Late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • iMac (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010 or newer)
Q. Which Macs support the Metal graphics engine?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs support Metal:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
Q. Which Macs support Power Nap?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs support Power Nap:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" with Retina display (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" with Retina display (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
Q. Which Macs support AirPlay?
A. Apple has officially confirmed that the following Macs support AirPlay:
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 13" (Early 2011 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (Early 2011 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro 17" (Early 2011 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2011 or newer)
  • iMac (Mid 2011 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
NOTE: AirPlay for web video requires an Apple TV (2nd generation or later). Peer-to-peer AirPlay requires a Mac (2012 or later) with OS X Yosemite or later and an Apple TV (3rd generation rev A, model A1469 or later) with Apple TV software 7.0 or later.
Q. I've heard Sierra includes something called System Integrity Protection (SIP). Will this stop me installing and using older software?
A. Possibly. See our separate article all about System Integrity Protection (SIP).
Q. I've heard Sierra includes something called Gatekeeper. Will this stop me installing and using older software?
A. No. You can configure Gatekeeper in one of two different ways:
  1. Mac App Store = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store will run (highest security)
  2. Mac App Store and identified developers = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store or that have been digitally signed by an authorised developer will run (medium security - default)
Q. Does Sierra have Rosetta? Does it run PowerPC applications/software?
A. Just like OS X 10.7 Lion and later, Sierra does not include Rosetta.
Q. Does Sierra include X11?
A. No. X11 on Sierra now uses install on demand. When you first launch an app that requires X11 libraries, you are directed to a download location for the most up-to-date version of X11 for Mac e.g. XQuartz.
Q. Does Sierra include Personal Web Sharing?
A. Sort of. Apple have removed the easy configuration of this feature (from System Preferences > Sharing) but the underlying software needed (Apache) is still included in macOS. You can either purchase Apple's own macOS Server 5 (£19.99), install/purchase third party products e.g. MAMP, VirtualHostX, etc, or get jiggy with Terminal commands for free.
Q. Does Sierra include Xgrid Sharing?
A. No. Just like OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and later it has been removed.
Q. Does Sierra include Java?
A. No. Java is available to download from Oracle - see our Java article for more information and download links to obtain the latest free Java software.
Q. If I install macOS 10.12 Sierra and don't like it can I easily downgrade back to 10.11/10.10./10.9/10.8/10.7?
A. Unfortunately, depending on your Mac model it may not be very easy. We're working on an article about that - check back soon.
Q. What should I do to prepare and be ready for installing Sierra?
A. See this article.

Article Keywords: macOS 1012 Sierra Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

This article is © MacStrategy » a trading name of Burning Helix. Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


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