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How To Run MacOS High Sierra or Another OS on Your Mac

Run the free MacOS High Sierra, or with a virtual machine install Windows or Unix on your Mac.

Apps in this Guide

The steady, not revolutionary, progression of MacOS reflects a maturing system software. The latest edition of Apple's desktop operating system -- MacOS High Sierra -- offers significant behind-the-scenesmore

The steady, not revolutionary, progression of MacOS reflects a maturing system software. The latest edition of Apple's desktop operating system -- MacOS High Sierra -- offers significant behind-the-scenes improvements that should make the OS much more stable and secure.

And when you decide to make the jump to High Sierra, be sure you have a current backup of your hard drive in case something goes wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I upgrade to the latest version of MacOS?
You certainly don't have to keep your Mac up to date. But with each revision, Apple works to make MacOS more secure and more stable. So unless you can't upgrade your system, you should consider updating your Mac. And if you do decide to install the latest version of MacOS, make sure you have a current backup of the contents of your drive in case something goes wrong.
What is the Mac operating system?
MacOS is Apple's Unix-based operating system that has been running on Macs since 2001. It traces its roots to Apple's acquisition of NeXT in 1996, which brought Steve Jobs back to the company he founded, along with the software that formed the foundation of MacOS. MacOS comes with a collection of apps and utilities, including Safari, Mail, iTunes, Photos, FaceTime, Time Machine, and Siri. And through the App Store, you can find apps from Apple and third-party developers. The OS comes installed on all new Macs and is available as a free download from the App Store.
Can I run other OSes on my Mac?
Through Apple's Boot Camp utility or a virtual machine such as Parallels or VMware, you can run Windows on your Mac. VMware also lets you install a flavor of Unix or another copy of MacOS. The VMs don't come with a licensed copy of Windows, so you need to buy a copy, yourself.
When should I upgrade to High Sierra and should I make a backup?
With High Sierra, one of the biggest changes is to the Mac's file system. Called Apple File System, MacOS's new file system for flash storage will more efficiently track and organize files on SSD drives, Apple said. Swapping in a new file system is a big deal, however: The last time Apple did this for the Mac was 20 years ago. So unless you *need* to update, wait and let Apple and High Sierra's early adopters shake out the new OS before you make the move. And when you do decide to install the latest version of MacOS, make sure you make a current backup of the contents of your drive -- using Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner, or Acronis, for example -- in case something goes wrong. Note that just Macs with SSD drives will get the new file system. If you have a Mac with a hard-disk drive or hybrid Fusion drive, the upgrade will keep you on HFS+.

Recommended operating systems for the Mac

Of course, you can run MacOS on your iMac or MacBook. But you can install Windows or Unix as well without a lot of fuss.

MacOS High Sierra

MacOS High Sierra

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MacOS High Sierra is Apple's latest operating system for Macs and replaces Sierra. The update runs on iMacs and MacBooks from late 2009 and later; and MacBook Airs, the MacBook Pros, Mac Minis, and Mac Pros from 2010 and later. Much of what's new in High Sierra is under the hood, from a modern file system designed specifically for SSD storage to behind-the-scenes improvements to Safari. Following Apple's recent tradition for its mobile and desktop OSes, High Sierra is free.

Parallels Desktop for Mac

Parallels Desktop for Mac

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Parallels Desktop for Mac lets you use MacOS and Windows side by side, without having to reboot into one or the other to use it. With the $79.99 Parallels, you have a handful of ways to use the OSes together, from completely separate to merged.

VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion

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Fusion for Mac from VMware is industrial-strength virtualization software that lets you run Windows in tandem with MacOS on your Mac. With Fusion, you can copy and paste or drag and drop files between Mac and Windows environments. The $79.99 Fusion VM can also run various flavors of Linux as well as older versions of MacOS, letting you run applications in a broad range of OSes.

Boot Camp

Boot Camp

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For a simple way to run Windows on your Mac, check out Boot Camp. MacOS comes with the free Boot Camp utility, which lets you install Windows on your Mac. While you can boot into either Mac or Windows, you can't run them at the same time, side by side. For that feat, check out Parallels or VMware.

Recommended backup apps and services for MacOS

Keeping current backups is smart, especially when upgrading to a new version of an OS.

Carbon Copy Cloner

Carbon Copy Cloner

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Carbon Copy Cloner lets you make a bootable clone of your hard disk, so if some goes wrong, you can start up from your backup and quickly get back to work. You can schedule backups, backup everything, or set which folders to include in a backup. After the initial backup, Carbon Copy Cloner will update just the files you added or modified since the last update. And if you need to restore your system from a backup, Carbon Copy Cloner will guide you through the steps. The app sells for

Acronis True Image

Acronis True Image

With Acronis, create a clone of the entire contents of a hard drive-- including OS, applications, settings, and files -- and then restore everything or just specific files. An annual subscription goes for $49.99 and lets you backup to local storage or to Acronis's cloud storage services.