macOS High Sierra Now Available to Download: New Features, How to Install, and More

macOS High Sierra Now Available to Download: New Features, How to Install, and More
Highlights
  • The macOS High Sierra is a free update
  • The update is compatible with Macs introduced since 2009
  • A major security flaw has been reported to be on latest macOS

After releasing iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4 last week, Apple has now released its macOS High Sierra update for Mac owners. The latest Mac update from Apple is completely free and is compatible with Mac machines starting from 2009 and can be downloaded directly from Mac App Store. Users should first back up their machines, check for compatibility via this list, make sure they have enough space to download, and then download macOS High Sierra. From that point on, users will just need to follow onscreen instructions.

Among several key changes, the macOS High Sierra update brings along a switch to APFS (Apple File System) for Macs that feature SSD drives, the company's Metal 2 graphics technology, support for virtual reality, and a revamped Photos app.

Separately, the latest macOS has been reported to contain a major security flaw that can potentially allow hackers to steal user credentials from accounts stored in Keychain. Security researcher and ex-NSA analyst Patrick Wardle on Monday pointed out to a flaw associated with macOS that can allow hackers to steal usernames and passwords from accounts stored in Keychain. Wardle told Forbes has claimed that the unsigned apps on macOS High Sierra can access the information from Keychain and even show the plaintext usernames and passwords without the need of user's master password. Wardle has even shared a video where we can see the exploit in action.

In a statement to ZDNet, Apple had this to say about Wardle's claim:"MacOS is designed to be secure by default, and Gatekeeper warns users against installing unsigned apps, like the one shown in this proof of concept, and prevents them from launching the app without explicit approval. We encourage users to download software only from trusted sources like the Mac App Store, and to pay careful attention to security dialogs that macOS presents."

In the meanwhile, let's see some of the biggest new features that come along with the macOS High Sierra update. A complete list of features can be found on the Apple site.

Apple File System

Perhaps the most crucial of changes, APFS is essentially a new and advanced storage architecture developed by the Cupertino-based company that is said to provide an "extensible foundation" to support new features and future storage technologies on the Mac. The new architecture ensures that common tasks within the operating system, such as copying files and directories, will happen almost instantly. With data integrity features, Apple says that the user data is protected from power outages and system crashes as well. While APFS currently only supports those Macs that only have SSD as internal storage, the support for Fusion as well as HDD systems will be added with a later update.

Metal 2

With High Sierra, Apple has focused on macOS graphics performance and has introduced Metal 2 graphics technology. The company says that this new technology provides the most efficient way of tapping into the GPU power on Mac. Metal 2 comes with support for machine learning and has been claimed to feature a "refined" API that will help developers in accelerating their apps.

VR Support

With macOS High Sierra update, Apple has added the support for virtual reality content creation to its operating system for the first time around. This means that the developers will now be able to easily create VR content on the Mac. "Valve is optimizing its SteamVR platform for macOS and enabling connection of the HTC Vive headset, while Unity and Epic are bringing their VR development tools to macOS," Apple said in its release.

Photos

Among the very few user-facing changes that have been introduced with the latest update, the Photos app has now received a makeover. The revamped Photos app comes with an always-on sidebar and new filtering and selection tools in order to ease up photo organization. Apple has added new editing tools to the app including Curves, which allows users to fine-tune the contrast, and Selective Color, which allows them to make adjustments to a specific colour range. Interestingly, the Photos app now allows users to edit Live Photos as well with effects like Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure. Third-party editors like Photoshop and Pixelmator can be launched right from the Photos app itself and support for support for third-party project extensions has also been added.

High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and High Efficiency Image File (HEIF)

With macOS High Sierra update, Apple has added the support for HEVC and HEIF media file formats for video and pictures respectively to the macOS. This shouldn't come as a surprise as the iOS devices have already moved on to these formats and as it is said to provide efficient compression, streaming, and video playback. This means that the entire ecosystem is now on same page and in better sync with each other than before.

Safari 11

With Safari 11, Apple has introduced an "Intelligent Tracking Prevention" feature that essentially detects and eliminates cookies and other data used by advertisers for cross-site tracking. What this means for users is that their browsing will now be more private than earlier. Apple emphasised on this particular feature in its presentation and it seems like a positive step as well. The new version of the browser prevents videos with sound from playing automatically without user approval and the Reader mode helps them read articles in a clean and uncluttered format.

Notably, users can choose to directly update their browser to Safari 11 without updating their operating system.

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