You can be smart about when to upgrade to a new major version of MacOS, iOS, TVOS, or WatchOS, or you can be Apple’s guinea pig.

All major new versions include changes that initially make them buggy…some seriously buggy. Apple certainly performs cursory testing of these new versions, but the testers are mostly Apple programmers and developers. The programmers don’t actually use an operating system the way we all do on a daily basis, and the developers primarily test to see whether their software will work with the new version, or whether it will require modifications to work.

For that reason, if you install the first release or two of a major upgraded operating system, things that worked perfectly with the older version may stop working at all, and it’s extremely difficult to downgrade unless you backed up your device before upgrading, and are willing to erase your device and restore from the backup.

Here’s a better strategy. Apple typically take about 5 updates after a major new version before all the bugs are fixed…sometimes more.

• The final version of MacOS 10.7 (Lion) was 10.7.5.
• The final version of MacOS 10.8 (Mountain Lion) was 10.8.5.
• The final version of MacOS 10.9 (Mavericks) was 10.9.5.
• The final version of MacOS 10.10 (Yosemite) was 10.10.5.
• The final version of MacOS 10.11 (El Capitan) was 10.11.6.
• The final version of MacOS 10.12 (Sierra) was 10.12.6.
• The final version of macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) was 10.13.6.

As I write this, the latest version of MacOS is 10.14.4. But from the initial release of 10.14.0, Apple has been popping up nag boxes in the upper right corner of everyone’s screen reminding them to upgrade. Apple isn’t nagging you for your benefit…every new version of an operating system contains more features and more code than the prior versions…which slows down your device. With each major upgrade, your device gets slower and slower, which (Apple expects) will push you into replacing your computer with a brand new one. And, after all, Apple is in the business of selling computers.

We’ve had a spate of clients who, in an effort to get the nag boxes to stop, clicked the button to upgrade, and ended up with MacOS 10.14.0…and unbearably slow performance, and programs they depended on that would no longer open. We cleaned up their computers and updated them to 10.14.4. and that made things a little better…but upgrading RAM and replacing mechanical hard drives with solid state drives boost speed much more effectively.

They could have avoided the entire episode by not upgrading too soon…wait for the .5 upgrade or later. Better yet, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! As long as the programs you use are running well, and the version of the operating system you are running supports current web browsers, wait to upgrade…until you have no other choice. You’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation, and let other people be Apple’s guinea pigs.

Everything I’ve said about MacOS also applies to iOS, WatchOS, and TVOS. Give apple time to get feedback from actual users and fix anything that’s not working right before you upgrade.