When it comes to upgrading to a new version of macOS, we err on the side of caution by blocking/deferring macOS upgrades until an organization has tested, planned, and communicated its readiness to upgrade. With the September 26th, 2023, release of macOS 14 (Sonoma), Apple is continuing to enforce the same 90-day deadline on this period. We will not be able to fully block the newest OS from installing 90 days after it is released. Please note that for macOS Sonoma, we're truncating this to 75 days, as the 90-day deferral would end on Christmas Day if we left it at the default value. If you've tested the new OS in your environment and would like to unblock it early, please reach out and let us know.
Upgrading is not a question of if; it’s a question of when. The process is simple, but if you upgrade a business-critical device before testing, the new version of macOS could render important apps inoperable, create workflow interruptions, or have other negative consequences. On the other hand, waiting too long can lead to compatibility problems and security concerns (older versions of macOS stop receiving security updates after a certain amount of time).
There’s no reason you must upgrade to macOS 14 Sonoma immediately, but if you want to proceed, please contact your account manager so we can help you test your tech stack in the new operating system. If you're not ready to begin testing out the new OS, you can take your time so long as you’re running macOS 12 Monterey or macOS 13 Ventura and are staying up to date with Apple’s security updates. Earlier versions of macOS no longer receive security updates, rendering them more vulnerable to attack. Reasons to delay further include:
- You’re too busy. The upgrade process will take a few hours, and it may take additional time to configure everything properly afterward. When you are ready to upgrade, aim for when a little downtime will be convenient.
- You’re using incompatible software. The jump from Monterey or Ventura to Sonoma isn’t a big one, so most modern apps should be updated to ensure compatibility with Sonoma by now or in the coming months. But if you’re still running macOS 11 Big Sur or earlier, your apps may be older and need a closer look prior to an upgrade.
- You need consistent versions for workflow reasons. We’re unaware of any significant issues, but it’s not inconceivable that a coworker could be stuck on an older version of macOS and thus older versions of shared productivity apps. If your upgrade would force you to update those apps and introduce compatibility issues when collaborating with that coworker, you may have to wait until your coworker can upgrade as well.
Sonoma won’t upend your experience of using a Mac, but it has numerous welcome features, both large and small. Apple is bringing Control Center widgets to your desktop, improving the teleconferencing capabilities of the Messages app, implementing an improved autocorrect experience, and bringing profiles to Safari so you can better separate your work and personal web browsing. Sonoma also shares numerous features with Apple’s other operating systems: iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and tvOS 17, like iCloud password sharing. To take full advantage of those features across all your Apple devices, your Mac must be running Sonoma.
Before You Upgrade
Once you’ve decided to upgrade to Sonoma, you have three main tasks:
- Update apps: Make sure all your apps are as up-to-date as possible. If you regularly put off updates, now’s the time to let them complete, so you have Sonoma-compatible versions.
- Clear space: Sonoma needs about 36 GB of free space to upgrade, and the installer itself is about 12 GB, so we recommend making sure you have at least 50 GB free. Don’t cut this close—you should always have at least 10–20% free space for virtual memory, cache files, and breathing room.
- Please make a backup: It’s best to never install a major upgrade to macOS without ensuring that you have at least one current backup first. In an ideal world, you’d have an updated Time Machine backup, a bootable duplicate, and an Internet backup. That way, if something goes wrong, you can easily restore it.
After the above-listed tasks are complete, make sure you don’t need your Mac for a few hours. Upgrades tend to finish in 1-2 hours, but there's no telling exactly how long your upgrade will take, so never start an upgrade if you need the Mac soon.
For many clients of Ntiva, you can find a convenient one-click Sonoma installer in MacManage (this app lives in your Applications folder). If you upgrade using this method, you don’t need to provide administrator credentials to begin the upgrade. If your office has approved the upgrade, but you don’t see either MacManage or the “Install macOS Sonoma” item, please reach out to us for a resolution.
Everyone else can initiate the upgrade by opening System Settings > General > Software Update, clicking the Upgrade Now button, and following the instructions. If you’d like more hand-holding, check out Joe Kissell’s ebook Take Control of Sonoma.
After You Upgrade
Part of the reason to set aside plenty of time for your Sonoma upgrade is that there are usually cleanup tasks afterward. We can’t predict what you’ll run into, depending on what version of macOS you’re running now and what apps you use, but here are a few situations we’ve noticed in the past:
- macOS may need to update its authentication situation by asking for your Apple ID password, your Mac’s password, and if you have another Mac, its password too. This is not a security breach — it’s expected.
- Some apps may ask for permission to access your contacts and calendar even though you previously granted consent. Again, that’s fine and won’t happen again.
- If you use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac and apps (and you should, it’s excellent!), you may need to re-enable that in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General.
- If you use Gmail, Google Calendar, or other Google services, you may need to log in to your Google account again.
- Websites that usually remember your login state may require that you log in again. If you’re using a password manager like 1Password, that’s easy.
- You may have to re-enable text message forwarding to your Mac on your iPhone in Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding.
With all that housekeeping done, it’s time to check out all the new features in Sonoma!
(Featured image by Apple)