OS X Upgrade Advice and Questions

I’m going to have to upgrade my OS in order to run Dorico 2.

I’m currently using OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite, because it’s the highest level I can go without breaking my installation of FontLab Studio 5—which I like to use for designing music fonts.

Inevitably, this upgrade will create a problem, because I don’t really like the new FontLab VI program (at least not yet), and I’ll be giving up my music font experiments in order to upgrade to Dorico 2… and I’ll be sad about that. At least until I eventually figure out what my replacement path is—perhaps via ‘Glyphs’, or I may eventually develop a fondness for ‘FontLab VI’.

Anyhow, enough of my belly aching which I’m loosely disguising as background info here… I’m still looking forward to using Dorico’s latest and greatest features in spite of my other losses… which I can happily blame on Apple anyhow.

My main question here is what’s the best approach for changing the OS on my Macbook?.. (Fresh Install or, Upgrade).

On my Windows computers I’m very reluctant to consider an Upgrade… I’ve always taken the path of a time consuming, but clean, Fresh installation for each and every OS change I’ve done.

With the Macbook I’m currently on, this will be my first OS change… and I’m wondering how bad, a simple OS upgrade might go for me.

Do upgrades on Apple products work well… or am I still better off with a fresh installation here?

I’m happy to hear about the NEW Dorico 2 release… I’d already be using it, but I first have to sort out the problems I’ve mentioned above.

Take Care,


From 10.10 - I’d advise a completely fresh install.

You can then use Migration Assistant to bring your data over; or copy your user folder from one of your backups.

Which only leaves any Applications you will want to re-install + lining up preferences.

That would be wise because somewhere after 10.10 (I think) some software moved from using ~/Library/Application Support to ~/Library/Containers etc for its ancillary files.

Definitely worth making a clean start; suggest allowing at least one day. Good luck!

I would disagree: just run the installer app. That’s how it’s designed to be used. There’s very little reason to do otherwise. (The use of Containers relates to whether apps are sandboxed or not, and not a property of the OS itself. Apps won’t change their behaviour with a new OS.)

Doing a clean install will require wiping the disk, installing the OS, and then putting back everything that was already there (which is what Migration Assistant does). And you’ll still have to reinstall some apps (like Dorico) that have complex installers and copy protection, and make sure that all your preferences got copied over. It’s a waste of time. At best, you’re deleting 100% of your files, in order to replace 99.9%, in the belief that 0.1% might be problematic.

I’ve upgraded every OS since 10.2 directly over the top of the preceding one, with no problems. In the last 16 years, I’ve done about 3 clean installs, and I’m not convinced they achieved anything.

As for FontLab, you can use a Virtual Machine, like Parallels Desktop Lite (available for free on the Mac App Store) to create an installation of Yosemite as an app within your newer OS. Then you can use FontLab there. (Make sure you download and keep the Yosemite installer app somewhere for this.)

It’s certainly true that large “jumps” from older OSes to newer ones increase the risk of things breaking until you’ve updated everything, but that’s true regardless of how you install the OS.

Jim, yes go ahead and follow benwiggy‘s advice.
I myself (longtime Mac user) since macOS 10 always installed on top without any problems at all.

FWIW, I updated from El Capitan to High Sierra with no problem at all — except my Canon scanner would not work without a third party app :wink:

Same here; I just used the OS installer and it upgraded the system without problems so far. I’m on El Capitan currently and as long as Dorico is still working I’m gonna stay there. I’m afraid of upgrading any further, too, because I still occassionally use Adobe Fireworks CS5 which is getting older by the day; I fear that it won’t work on the next OS version anymore (plus, it and Finale 2014 require the Java SE 6 runtime environment which is terribly outdated, too, I had to specifically downgrade from the Java 7 environment that came with El Capitan in order to use them).

I suppose with the next OS update I’ll have to drop some applications and prepare for some major workflow changes. That’s progress, I guess.

Java SE 6 still works on Mojave 10.14, as do 32-bit apps, but Apple have said it will absolutely be the last one, promise. :smiley:
No version of Java comes with OS X, but you can have more than one version installed without issue.

Glad everyone else has had such positive experiences of OS upgrades. I’ve never had any real trouble.

Just advising caution since the opportunity presents itself to the OP to make a fresh start.

But I’ll happily… concede :slight_smile:.

As far as I have understood, thats the clever way macOS is built.
My inexpert explanation: you will not be able to touch or change the relevant bits of the operating system from the outside (one can think of the operating system being under armed glass).
That is why one can literally go on the system for years and years, without effects from the outside world…
… just my amateurish view on it, hopefully not too much nonsense :wink:

Hm, I could swear I had Java SE 7 when I upgraded to El Capitan and had to downgrade (or switch to using version 6). But perhaps that came with some other application? It has been too long ago, I don’t remember.

Just to say that I am still using FontLab 5.1 for working on Bravura et al and it’s working OK for me – though I am still on macOS 10.12 Sierra at the moment.

Thanks to everyone for taking time to comment here. I really appreciate it, and think the wide assortment of views help a lot with getting me comfortable to try an upgrade.

Because of my Windows conditioning I’m still fond of a fresh install approach (and I like Mark Sealey’s comments very much), But since so many have spoken up about the upgrade path… I’m going to try that, and hopefully save some time along the way. But it will also be a small experiment just to see what happens.

As Daniel has pointed out, I’ll be able to find a good compromise if I can just upgrade to macOS 10.12 Sierra myself… that would let me get into Dorico 2, and also keep using my favorite version of FontLab. I’ll see if there’s a way to do this, so I can buy a little more time.

Most of this is a FontLab issue, and hopefully in another year or so FontLab VI will get improved upon enough so that I’ll want that to be the main version I use.

Thanks Again, Folks!



Please do take the others’ advice over mine. I tend to be too cautious in such matters.

One thing I would like to commend without reservation (and I suspect everyone else will agree) is to make sure you’ve got a good solid backup environment.

At the very least that should be Time Machine on an external drive.

Ideally, though, you should also use either Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to create an additional copy/clone of your entire system.

Then if things go wrong in the upgrade (I’m sure they won’t), simply have CCC or SD (both equally good, reliable and well supported… the industry standards) copy your image back onto the original source machine - and make it bootable… essentially the same as it was before you ran the OS upgrade - while you plan your next steps.

At all events, good luck; let us know how it goes!

No Problems, Mark.

I’m going for an upgrade install, for sure—and doubt I’ll have too much trouble based on all the comments from above.

Just got done talking to Apple, and they surprised me by giving me a link to the previous OS version Sierra… which I’m downloading right now. I downloaded High Sierra yesterday… so now I have both options available.

Thanks for the tips on backup programs… I never used Time Machine, and haven’t found a Mac based backup yet. I’ll definitely check out the two you’ve mentioned above. And thanks for considering that because I’ve been meaning to research this for a while now anyhow.

I’ll post up the results, and keep you posted… but don’t go holding your breath on that. I probably shouldn’t start any of this until I’m finished with my current project… I don’t want to suffer any set backs with the job due to getting all excited about this a head of time.

so that places the ETA for upgrade about 10 days out or so. By then I should have my project finished, and I’ll try and take a small vacation from work then too.

… I have a sneaking suspicion that that vacation time will be a deep dive into the new features of Dorico 2.

Let me strongly encourage you to set up at least one Time Machine backup disk. It will save you from hours of grief when you delete a file or do something really stupid when you are exhausted.

Having at least one on-site backup drive and a pair of drives that you rotate off-site weekly or monthly is really a good idea if your livelihood depends on what is on your computer. Slow 6TB spinners are cheap and work well.

Mark, I think TM is a better place to start.


Time Machine is built-in to your Mac. Just plug-in a disk, and set it up in the System Prefs.

“Files without a backup are waiting to be lost.” :open_mouth: