I make four comments:
1) I was one of those who, after owning Eudora since it was shareware from Steve Dorner at the U of Illinois, and delayed switching to Mail. When I did, however, I continued to use POP3 and configured Mail and its rules (to the extent possible) to behave like Eudora.
2) I update my iPad fairly promptly, but delay updating my wife's until I'm really sure there are no glitches. She is very intolerant of glitches, I just deal with them.
3) Each new system comes with a new and "improved" version of Safari. Of late, they've been anything but improvements.
4) I'm an AppleScripter. Somehow they manage to bugger up AppleScript with each evolution.
"Technology makes life better." Only if it makes existing tasks easier. When I wrote my own apps, I made sure to not do more than I was already doing, and to do that more efficiently. Then I would add a feature if I needed it.
"New and upgraded apps stop being available." Sort of yes - when I upgraded to 10.10 the apps I needed would no longer run, new ones were not available, and I had to revert 10.9.
"New hardware is inevitable." Yup. After 50 years using computers, I try to use platform independent apps. I did finally have to give up on doing Vector Drawings though. The apps I considered good are no longer available on the Mac. I still have two old machines in case I need to export a Canvas file. But the MacDraw and ClarisDraw files are dead.
I think your comment about existing tasks is an important point. Technology very often does NOT make existing tasks better because those who have spent time thinking about their existing tasks have already done everything they can to make them as efficient and enjoyable as possible. Other people's solutions to those same tasks will seldom be as good.
That applies to features as well. Apple introduced Launchpad to the Mac to mimic iOS, and perhaps people use it, though I've never seen it used in the wild. That's likely because everyone I know has been using the Mac for ages and figured out their preferred method of launching apps long ago, so Launchpad offered nothing new. But if you just started using the Mac, perhaps it's a useful option. (Nah, not really, just use LaunchBar. :-))
Discovered Launchpad about a year ago and now use it a lot for all those apps you can't or don't want to put in the Dock. From Launchpad just start typing and it will come up with suggestions then arrow left or right to choose - very quick.
Or just use LaunchBar (or Alfred or QuickSilver, all of which have been around for many years) for an even more efficient type-to-launch experience. :-)
Or even better, Alfred! :)
I use LaunchBar and I use Launchpad. The latter is great when I'm at someone else's machine helping them do something.
I upgrade osx one device at a time. I check that apps still work - in particular Mail Steward that archives emails, going back decades and Dosbox that runs ancient but brilliant DOS apps (before they were called apps)http://users.tpg.com.au/aoaug/mac_vpc.html#dosbox
Not sure what i will do if they don't run in El Capitan!
I don't have the same apps on all the devices, otherwise YES!
You are just oldfashioned.
I think 'old-fashioned' is actually a compliment (='wise')
My first computer was an Osborne. What were they, 90k floppies?
This page is still html 4.01 transitional and I bet will continue to be so after all the internet has moved to html5 because 'don't fix what is not broken'. ;)
Our current Web design is slated for replacement. :-)
Great analysis of the state of consumer computing today. I am very happy to upgrade but so often now the interface as an example is worse than what it is replacing. I wonder if these designers actually use their designs. Now that I hear generation I complaining about usability of apps I know there is something going wrong.
Yes, the annual upgrade cycle can be tiresome. I liked the days when upgrades were released when the new stuff was ready to be released, not because there was an arbitrary release schedule that had to be adhered to. 'It's ready when it's ready.' should be the mantra.
And Adam -- you were right on about the design of the interface for design's sake. Jonny Ive has a lot of good ideas but some things are over the top. What happened to focus group testing?
I liked the days when upgrades were released when the new stuff was ready to be released
Uh, when were those days?
I think he means before major OS X updates rolled out every fall. Now it can feel like Apple is updating OS X, whether it's time for an update or not.
Jony Ive is a good HARDWARE designer but he sucks as a software designer.
I currently have a 2011 iMac running OS X 10.10, and a 3rd-generation iPad and iPhone 4S, both running iOS 8.4.1. I was actually surprised to hear that iOS 9 will support both of my iDevices - but I'll wait a while to see feedback on how well it *actually* works before I take the plunge. Likewise, I can probably wait on El Capitan, as I don't currently have any tasks or projects that require it. Most of the apps I regularly use are already updated, or will be updated in due course, to be compatible. I'm also mindful of the fact that upgrading to Yosemite last year took a *long* time.
The one instance where I did jump the gun on upgrading was back when I was still running XP on a PC, and got the chance to try out the preview version of Windows 7. I can honestly say that that was the best upgrade decision I ever made. Still have a Win 7 VM on my Mac today (thanks to Parallels 11), which I cloned so I can tire-kick Windows 10 - but that's another story...
I treat OSX as a device like the iPhone - you get what you get. And you should never get it till there's at least one bug fix release. I hate to invoke the beast, but this is a bit better on the Windows side. It's so moddable that you can easily bring Windows 10, 8.1, or 8.0 back to being Windows 7+ (and even have less spying) using programs like Start8. But wait for bug fixes definitely applies there too. 10 isn't fully baked.
Hell, I still have an XP virtual machine running on Parallels. It does what I need it to do!
Overall, it one of the best and most enjoyable TidBITs articles ever.
"In short, take a deep breath, relax, and go with the upgrades. But do so intentionally, and on your own terms. "
Is is possible to download and make an installer "disk" of the latest 10.10.x so I can just do it when I feel like it?
(I long for the days when I just could buy it and save it till I was ready.)
Thanks. I did a search earlier today and found the same article. Tomorrow's project....
The Telephone hardly changed at all in 70 something years...handset- receiver - dial - buttons for different lines - sue there were overly complicated phones (I recall having a dial phone in my kitchen and one my 20 year old daughters friends didn't know how to use it -15 years ago! yipes) until the "digitalpart" came online. Likewise with TV. So sad when a technology is ditched for another (better?) technology. How odd that Record Players are popular- although lots of parts (vinyl) are lying around.
Good observations all, but my primary complaint with annual upgrades is the sheer cost of all the other software I have to upgrade to keep up with the latest and greatest Apple software. The last upgrade I did to Mavericks cost me over $1,500 in new software that I have to have to run my business. I didn't even try to buy pricier items like Adobe Acrobat, and some of the programs simply weren't even available anymore. Other than safety, what could possibly be worth the upgrade and accompanying additional costs of the other software?
Upgrade costs are a very real problem, but they're an expense that will have to be born at some point, just as with physical objects that wear out and have to be replaced on a schedule. It's the cost of doing business, unfortunately.
My best recommendations here are to (a) try to budget for the need to upgrade - in other words, treat software as something that wears out over time or (b) try to make do with cheaper alternatives, such as PDFpen instead of Adobe Acrobat or iWork instead of Microsoft Office.
Obviously, yes, you can put off upgrading to save the cost of software upgrades, and that's a legitimate strategy as well, but it's important to realize that it's a delaying tactic that will save you the money for a year or two only. Eventually, you'll need new hardware or will require compatibility with something new, and that will force the upgrade. Better to have budgeted for the expense ahead of time than be surprised by it.
OpenOffice works well too if it has the file formats you want.
As I usually keep one upgrade behind, it is now time to move to Yosemite. I have reasons for not doing this till December, however will a free version of Yosemite be available in December?
If you insist on that plan, I would download Yosemite now and make a bootable install drive of some sort. But from everything I've heard, El Capitan will work better than Yosemite.
I just "updated" to Mac OS 10.8! As for Security Updates, in this era of security breaches it is time for a law mandating that OS companies release Security Updates for their current major OS version and the 5 previous major OS versions. That means that Apple would cover Mac OS 10.6 through 10.11 while Microsoft would cover Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10.
Why not 6?
Why not 10?
Why not 2?
Why not a law that customers have to update to the latest OS the day it comes out?
I'm running Snow Leopard on three machines (just put Mountain Lion on one for Affinity Photo and some additional testing of our FV Player for WordPress). But for many years I've been running totally stable OS, while watching you and the TidBITS crew tearing your hair out over OS updates. Like you, I was a big Eudora user (probably the fastest mail client ever). The migration to Apple Mail was difficult but Mail on Snow Leopard is really a good, simple and resilient program. After using Keyboards Maestro to add back the key Eudora keyboard shortcuts, I'm almost as fast as with Eudora.
I've missed out on all that Apple Mail hell which Lion, Mountain Lion (early version), Mavericks and Yosemite have brought. Moreover, Mail in Snow Leopard is the last one which allows Letterbox to work with column view which is much faster for scanning. Productivity doubled by not updating.
Annual updates to break the OS are an embarrassment. Like Microsoft with Office. Worse over time.
To be clear, although we get tired of the annual updates as well, we never tear our hair out over OS updates; we're professionals and we do this stuff every day, so we're accustomed to constant change. It's extremely uncommon for one of us to lose significant work time to a problem.
Whenever we do experience one, however, we're likely to write about it to help everyone else out there whose jobs and lives don't revolve around figuring out the latest little trick or workaround.
That said, while you're obviously doing fine with your versions and that's great, I'd recommend being very aware that it can't last forever, and when the time comes to buy new hardware or you need iCloud or compatibility with the latest iOS, it will be pretty painful. And while it may not be a problem for your specific needs, apps like Keyboard Maestro now require Yosemite or later, so you won't be able to take advantage of any new capabilities there until such time as you're forced to upgrade. Though, of course, it's also free to sit and wait, as another commenter pointed out. :-)
I don't know if you've spent much time over at Lloyd Chambers Mac Performance Guide where he has examined core Apple rot very closely, from a professional perspective. As a former pro video director and editor and a keen photographer, I'm very interested in how Apple's OS and software stand up to pro use. The answer is not very well lately. Yes, one can work around issues. But why should we be working around issues when Snow Leopard is absolutely stable.
Keyboard Maestro is awesome software as is. What's great about Peter Lewis is that he codes so well that the older versions also continue to work.
Apple should take an example from developers like Peter. Compatible, stable, responsible.
iCloud is one of the worst software experiences I've read about lately. Indeed forced iOS updates are what originally put me off Apple devices (killed Netflix surround sound on an Apple TV which was then returned).
"is one of the worst software experiences I've read about..."
You only tend to hear from the 1% that complain on forums like this.
For the vast majority, it just works and you never hear from them. They don't even know what forums are :) I can think of at least a dozen family members that use various aspects of iCloud regularly and never complain about it. And as the extended family's IT guy, I tend to hear about things that don't work.
I know Lloyd from the DiskDoubler days, but don't follow his stuff much now, since I'm neither a pro photographer nor terribly interested in the utmost performance.
But I don't think the question is really about performance or stability for the most part - decent Macs running well-maintained systems are fast and stable with any version of the operating system. Sure, there may be specific problems, but those are usually particular to a certain person or are addressed before long.
For most people, the problem is that the upgrades don't offer sufficient under-the-hood benefits to outweigh the forced need to learn new ways of working or the seemingly random visual changes. People don't mind when software works better, but they do mind when they're told that how they work isn't correct.
As for iCloud, it isn't perfect, but for the most part it does what it claims to do. Whether that's what people want it to do is another story. :-)
Thank you for firing this shot across the bow. I've been a Mac, and by extension, an Apple fan since purchasing my Mac 128 (which still runs) just weeks after it hit the shelf. I always looked foward to upgrading my machines through the intervening years...that is until I crossed the Rubicon when I left 10.6.8 behind. Since then I rarely have an interaction with my Mac that doesn't set off a bout of Tourette's. I'm finding fewer and fewer reasons to love Apple. But are the alternatives any better? I'm certainly going to start looking laterally.
I'm updating immediately to 10.11 for one thing: they've fixed that gawdawful bug in mail where you select a message, change the sort order, and your selected message vanishes to it's place in the list, instead of remaining centered in your window, and the rest of the mail sorted around it.
This Apple-Mail client comment is troubling, and I simply don't understand why this sort of thing is happening. That is, the Apple-Mail client has been around for how many years now? Why can't Apple software people make changes to the Apple-Mail client, which don't introduce nonsense, irritating problems like the one noted above? Do they not have a decent set of regression tests? Comments like the above make me very reluctant to make any OSX updates, although I know I will need to make an update, eventually. (I am currently running Mavericks, and want to stay with Mavericks as long as possible.)
I am curious about what a rebuttal from one of your security-conscious friends would entail. Even though it would be less likely to be targeted, what steps would you suggest to harden 10.6.8 with its 49 known vulnerabilities?
I'll see if I can get Rich or Joe to chime in here. At a basic level, running a system that you know has exploitable vulnerabilities isn't the best of ideas, but how worried you should be about that depends greatly on your risk profile.
Regardless, if you're using such a system, you'd want to be more careful about visiting dodgy Web sites, downloading sketchy apps, opening email attachments from unknown senders, and so on.
As far as hardening goes, I imagine you could manually update some of the Unix underpinnings in OS X, but it would be difficult, and if you're not using them, there's probably little need.
Practically speaking, there's not much the average user can do to avoid security problems that require system-level patches. As Adam said, avoiding the bad neighborhoods on the web is a good idea, and of course upgrading whatever Apple or third-party software you can. My advice is always to keep your OSes up to date. It's the safest practice by far.
Unfortunately, I have a 79 year old friend who refuses to upgrade from 10.6.8. At this point, I am not sure if he can even tell what is legit and what is dodgy. He recently took his iMac to the Apple store and they uninstalled Sophos, saying he didn’t need it. They also told him it was OK to be running 10.6.8. If Apple is doing this sort of thing, they must not be too concerned.
I always recommend running the current version of any OS. ALWAYS.
There are generally some very important features that don't get back ported, even if vulnerabilities are patched. I'm very much against telling people they can use older versions. Maybe hang on for a few weeks or months to one back rev, but never more than that if your hardware can support it. Every release of iOS and OSX and windows includes important security features, not just patches.
Thank you all for the replies!
... if your hardware can support it...
How do you know if your 2009 4GB RAM Mac won't slow to a crawl because the hardware (4RAM) won't handle new OSX? Mine did that with Mavericks (I think that's why at least) and now I'm supposed to upgrade to Yosemite and later El Capitan?
Apple website says my 2009 4RAM can upgrade but my Apple Genius Bar (for a different problem) says my hardware won't handle it well especially if running many programs at once (basically what is happening in Mavericks now).
What Mac do you have? 4 GB of RAM is a bare minimum (and has been for years). Apple doesn't sell any Mac with less than 8 GB, and I would strongly recommend upgrading the RAM - it's cheap. Or put the money toward a new Mac - 6 years is a long run for any computer.
It's possible that the problem with Mavericks was RAM-related, but there are a vast number of other possibilities too.
iMac (desktop) 2009. Probably will keep computer for kids and get a souped up new 5K for myself after I decide if missing target display mode is something to wait for or not
That was interesting.
The Yosemite installer download was the slowest part. Copied the installer to the folder where I store other installer downloads. It gets backed up regularly. Made and installer disk on a partition and it test booted OK.
Thanks for the prompt. I suddenly realized that the new version of iOS was probably going to go live today, and I hadn't updated to the most recent revision of iOS 8. I had been waiting, as you might guess, to see how stable that version is. I'm really looking forward to the possiblity of good quality ad blocking on iOS 9, but I'll wait for the first revision.
I did the same thing.
I am still using Snow Leopard on 3 iMacs for my business. I agree with the comment about the cost of third party software upgrades,, but I don't agree with the comment about the need to upgrade. Most software/app upgrades are overpriced and incorporate features that are not of interest to me; except to followers of fashion. As for not using Adobe Acrobat Pro that would be a backwards step for me. Another point overlooked in the OS release is the cost of upgrading peripheral hardware where the manufacturers have introduced new models and stopped providing update drivers for older models. In my caee, it has cost me approx £5000 to get a compatible machine for the latest OS but I still haven't upgrades from 10.6,8 because of the cost of the apps. For example, I use Indesign4 which is fine for my needs but I'd have to switch to Adobe's subscription which is ott for my purposes.
Regular OS updates are ok for consumers, but an expense that most businesses could do without and plenty do.
I can't begin to tell you how much I would pay for a button in the current Word to return me to Word 5.1a, all I ever needed or wanted: perfect!
Yep. I rarely upgrade on a regular basis because I read so much of how an upgrade messes things up... re: iTunes 12.x issues with playlists vs. iTunes 11.x... vs. iTunes 10.x....
My two most current Macs run either Snow Leopard or Mountain Lion and I continue to use them because I paid good money for them. Plus Snow Leopard was the last to come on DVD. I would more readily get an OSX upgrade it it were still be offered through DVD media or even on a flash drive. I hate downloading huge upgrades.
Lastly this is not only a Mac problem. I hate forced upgrades hurled upon users of websites such as Gmail, Flickr, LastFM and a host of others. As an older person using something that always work is our comfort zone and upgrading is just a pain especially if the features are not good or functionality of the old one is taken away because developers want something more flashy.
Very good article.
But When you downloaded earlier OSX from the Appstore, they will be available a long time in the Purchased tab: I am running Yosemite now, and MountainLion, and Mavericks are still available. Lion is gone now.
Yes, once you've gotten the update, the older ones generally stay available - it's another reason to at least get the update, even if you choose not to install it.
However, it's worth noting that this is not true with iOS versions. Once Apple releases a new version of iOS, they stop signing the older versions, thus preventing them from being installed, even in a restoration situation.