The Best Time to Upgrade Mac OS Version for Music Creators and Sound Designers

When You see that little bubble pop up from your Mac letting you know there’s a new update available, I don’t know about you, but I am always filled with conflicting emotions. One the one hand, it’s exciting to see the loads of new features and slick new user interface. However, on the other hand, there’s also a certain level of risk involved. Will all your expensive software, plugins and instruments continue to work without worry? Well, that is loaded question when it comes to operating system upgrades. In this post, I’ll go into some best practices and help guide you to know when the best time to upgrade your Mac OS operating system really is!

The Shortest Answer

Never! Lol. Not necessarily never… but if you can live without having the additional dark theme or other varies tweaks, changes and updates, then you can save yourself a potential huge headache. Sometimes it may be necessary, and in that case, I’ll explain further below. However, generally speaking it’s best to avoid these operating system upgrades since you can open up a Pandora’s box of potential problems down the line.

Specifically for musicians and sound designers, many of us will have obscure plugins and software tools that help our workflows and may handle certain audio processing that is very unique.

The Most Reasonable Answer

When it is safe and stable to do so! Many times when a new operating system releases, it will be riddled with problematic discrepancies. This is why it feels like every time you power your computer up, there’s a new patch or version to download and install. The longer you wait to upgrade the better off you’ll be! After a new OS releases, slowly all the software you use and the developers of each of your go-to plugins will begin to produce support for these new systems. Sometimes they do it quickly but also the smaller developers and companies may take longer to develop the proper support to handle the new OS. 

A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 6 months from the initial launch of a new operating system. This will allow time for the developers to catch up with the varies problems and bugs that may arise with a new system and give enough time to iron out those issues.

How to Turn Off Auto-Updates!

I’d highly recommend you turn off auto-updates and only do it when you are confident and ready to upgrade. In Mac, you can do this by going to system preferences, selecting “Software Update”, the click the checkbox next to “Automatically keep my Mac up to date.”  You will be prompted to enter your computer’s password.  Then you are done!  You can rest easy knowing your system won’t update on it’s own in the middle of the knight, just for you to wake up and see your beloved software no longer works.

Always Backup Before Upgrading!

This can be your life line if things don’t go smoothly in the upgrade. I’d highly recommend backing up your system drive before you do decide to upgrade your OS. In Mac, it’s simple enough if you have Time Machine backing up your system. Just in case you realize something doesn’t work, you can just revert to a time when you have the previous operating system. If you don’t have Time Machine running you can create a disk image copy of your system drive and boot from that if things go astray. 

My Experience

I bought a new MacBook Pro in 2017 that came loaded with Mac OS 13 High Sierra. I only just today (Jan 21st, 2021) upgraded to Mac OS 14 Mojave! It was a big day, and I managed to hold off upgrading for 4 years! I can tell you that it was certainly worth it after hearing horror stories from some of my sound designer friends and colleagues of losing plug-ins that had used for many years or some that had forgot to backup and ended up having to find new programs and plugins to handle the specific work they needed to get done. One big thing about Mac operating systems after Mojave is that they no longer support 64 bit software. For me, as a sound designer, there are a few plugins and software tools I use in my workflow that are vital to my sonic palette and ability to morph, tweak and mangle sounds that I am not ready to let go of.


  • If you can live without it… live without it, you’ll save yourself the headache.
  • Wait 6 months after release if you really need the upgrade.
  • Make a backup of your system drive before you install the new operation system.
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