Should You Upgrade to macOS Mojave?
"To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question."
- Every User. Ever.
Issues with OS upgrades
When I was a PC-only user, I was never a fan of upgrading the Windows operating system. The problem with Microsoft products was a specific performance penalty that came with every new version.
If you're wondering how Windows was able to get the lion share of personal computers even when Apple came with Macintosh before Microsoft released its first graphical operating system, the answer is simple. Microsoft claimed that Windows could work on computers with 640K RAM when Apple required whopping 2MB (this was happening in the previous century).
Anyone understands that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Microsoft had to cut corners when other OS vendors chose not to: early Windows did not support true multitasking; they had a lot of bugs, etc.
Customers who bought PCs became increasingly sophisticated, and they demanded more features. Microsoft responded with more quality work and less corner-cutting. However, it meant that every new OS version required more resources.
This strategy worked very well for Microsoft and its hardware partners because new Windows required new, more powerful computers, and companies learned to upgrade PCs every 3-5 years.
On the other hand, Steve Jobs was a perfectionist. Every Mac he introduced was a masterpiece at the time of production. While I don't trust Apple when it comes to iPhones (iPhones are intentionally slowed down to force people to upgrade every two years), Macs so far were lucky to escape the fate of mobile devices. In fact, with every new upgrade, Apple tried to improve the performance, not otherwise.
For instance, did you know that in 2013 with OS X Mavericks, Apple introduced memory compression? It means that Macs, which were on the previous version of OS X, after upgrade use twice less RAM. It's like getting a computer with twice more memory because now it can handle more tasks at the same time. Another Mavericks feature was Timer coalescing, which was capable of reducing CPU usage by up to 72 percent. This feature lets Macs to run for longer and stay cooler.
Can you imagine Windows 10 using less RAM or CPU than Windows 7? I can't.
And Mavericks was not a maverick when it comes to performance upgrades. With OS X El Capitan, the time required to open PDF files was reduced four (!) times, Mail app speed improved twice, and the time to launch apps was generally cut by 40%.
And then, Apple introduced macOS Sierra, which was the first operating system that was not supported by all Mac models. You would need help from an Apple consultant to install an OS that supports Siri. After Sierra, every new operating system introduced by Apple further limited the upgrade options to Mac users.
Which macOS to upgrade to?
So, should you bother with an upgrade? Is it worth it?
At the time of writing, the latest Apple operating system is macOS Catalina. While I generally like it (I have it installed on all my Macs except 2012 Mac mini), I have to warn you about the side effects. The huge one is a lack of 32-bit apps support. If you have an old 32-bit app, then (warning) it will not run under Catalina.
If I suggest upgrading an old Mac, I will stop either on High Sierra or Mojave. They both still support 32-bit apps, but both come with enormous benefits for any Mac user.
The significant advantage of High Sierra, in my opinion, is its new file system APFS (Apple File System). It's faster and requires less storage. For instance, if you have two copies of the same file in different folders in Windows or any OS X pre-High Sierra, they take twice the space.
With APFS, even ten copies will only take one file storage. You can also rename the file, and the Mac still knows that a file with a different name, is in fact, the same file. As a bonus, if you use Apple's Mail app, it uses 35% less storage on disk under High Sierra.
Mojave has all the benefits High Sierra and a host of its cool tricks. For instance, the new Screenshot app is phenomenal and allows you to capture parts of the screen, save to any location on the disk, and edit before saving.
Limitations and workarounds
Ok, so what's the downside?
As I mentioned above, both the High Sierra and Mojave are restricted and can not be installed on older Macs. That's what Apple says. Apple wants you to buy new MacBooks.
According to Apple, Mojave cannot be installed on:
- MacBook introduced before 2015
- MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini or iMac introduced before 2012
- Mac Pro introduced before 2013
However, smart people found ways to work around the limitations.
For instance, The Mac Support Store offers two mac OS for All packages: upgrade to High Sierra or Mojave. The age of the Apple computer determines the choice of the OS but generally starts with 2009 models. With these packages, it is recommended for Macs with 8GB of RAM and 20GB disk space.
I hope I was able to convince you that upgrading Mac is different from upgrading PCs. Apple does not have a goal to make its software slower to satisfy its partners, as Microsoft does.
If your Mac is not on the latest OS, see if it is eligible for an upgrade. But even if it's not, there is a way to get help.
And finally, if you can, I'd suggest going with Mojave. It comes with stunning Dark Mode, which you probably have seen already if you have an iPhone. But even High Sierra is a vast improvement over older operating systems.
About the author:
Al Abdukadirov – is a founder of MacMyths.com. You can reach him at