Apple has been waging an effective marketing campaign during the macOSX/iPhone/iPad era, enabling the firm to attain dominance in a number of categories. Their promotional ads might contain a message similar to this: “Version 99.0 of our most popular widget has been updated so you can take full advantage of the latest technologies that enable you to enjoy life to the fullest and have fun in the process.” While product upgrades certainly serve a useful purpose and I’m not opposed to them in principle, the changes should not be so dramatic that they disrupt a company’s or a person’s workflow.
Why I Switched Back To macOS 10.12.5
The Mac community is comprised of many types of users who have different needs and interests, so their impressions of the same piece of system software that I reviewed are likely to vary.
If this were the 1990s, you might label me as a multimedia afficionado, or fanatic. For example, I produce videos for posting on the Internet and digitize old phonograph records so they can be played back on Macs and iOS devices. I use a scanner to digitize my diverse collection of still photographs and personal memorabilia. I maintain customized lists and databases using several software applications. Finally, I run Windows software using Parallels.
To complete the work that I do, I rely mostly on several legacy suites and applications, including Microsoft Office 2011, Adobe Photoshop CS3, Bento 4, and Final Cut Pro Studio. I have been able to run all my legacy programs using every macOS upgrade from Lion (10.7) to Sierra (10.12). Naturally, I was interested to learn whether I would be able to run them using High Sierra (10.13).
It turned out that the first program I tried to open in High Sierra was not a legacy application, but rather a recent acquisition called Drive Genius 5 that enables users like myself to make certain changes to their drive partitions without reformatting.
Even though I was running the latest (5.0.5) version of Drive Genius, the program would not launch in High Sierra. While I was both surprised and disappointed, it was not a deal-breaker, as I don’t need to run Drive Genius on a regular basis. I then set my sights on testing the primary legacy apps that I use.
Microsoft Office 2011: I heard rumors early on that High Sierra would not support Office 2011. However, those rumors prove to be unfounded and I had no problem opening Word, Excel, and Outlook – the three programs in the suite that I use the most.
Adobe Photoshop CS3: I successfully opened his venerable but “ancient” version of Photoshop in High Sierra. In order to run Photoshop CS3, I first had to install the legacy Java 6 runtime for OS X that’s available as a free download from Apple.
Bento 4: My Bento databases opened fine.
Final Cut Pro Studio: These days, I run just three programs within the Final Cut Pro Studio suite: Final Cut Pro 7, Soundtrack Pro 3, and Compressor. I’ve pretty much abandoned DVD Studio Pro in recent years because I stopped burning movies onto discs. If I have the rare need to create a motion graphics sequence using Motion 4, I can complete that task by booting up my Mac using Mountain Lion (macOS 10.8) that I installed on a separate drive partition that is much smaller in size than my primary partition where I had installed High Sierra.
The dropping of support for Final Cut Pro 7, Soundtrack Pro 3, and Compressor took me by surprise. Obviously, Apple implemented a technical change that prevents the use of these programs under High Sierra. At this point, I pondered my options if I wanted to keep the latest macOS on my laptop:
1. I could use High Sierra for most of my computing tasks. When I have a need to make a video or edit one or more audio tracks, I could simply boot into my Mountain Lion volume. When finished with those tasks, I would then boot back into High Sierra.
2. On High Sierra, I could start making videos using iMovie and use a software program like Audacity as my audio editor.
3. I could “bite-the-bullet” and purchase Final Cut Pro X or another video editor like Adobe Premiere.
Of the three options, the first one appeared to be the least disruptive to my workflow, although it wouldn’t be without its drawbacks. For instance, do I want to manage and maintain my email (I have multiple accounts) on both of the operating systems, or just one? Time is money, and do I want to expend my hours switching back and forth between the two OSes?
With regard to option #2, I would face a learning curve in mastering iMovie, which has gone through many interface changes since I last used the program some 15 years ago. Moreover, unlike Final Cut Pro 7 and Soundtrack Pro 3 which are designed by one company to work seamlessly together, there is no such linkage between iMovie and Audacity.
With regard to the third option, my copy of Final Cut Pro 7 is so old that I would have to pay the full price for Final Cut Pro X, which is listed as $299.99 on the App Store. While I would probably notice some degree of familiarity in the Final Cut Pro X interface, I expect to that it would take me a while to come up to speed. Another deterrent is a PC Magazine post from late 2016 that disclosed that any Final Cut project created in previous versions like mine cannot be imported into Final Cut Pro X without a third-party plug-in.
My solution became crystal-clear: Go back to using macOS 10.12.5 (Sierra) by cloning my backup system onto my laptop’s SSD. Having a reliable backup on-hand provided me with the parachute I needed.
P.S. As I was looking for solutions, I pulled out my El Capitan macOS 10.11 installer to see whether I could install that system on my SSD. I found that Apple’s servers no longer support the installation of El Capitan, so that wasn’t an option. As a fitting closure, I ran Software Update to upgrade my system to macOS 10.12.6 just prior to publishing the last page of my three-part article.
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