What's New in macOS High Sierra: APFS, Metal 2, Photos Improvements, Safari Autoplay Blocking and More

Apple named its next-generation version of the Mac operating system High Sierra because it's designed to improve macOS Sierra through several major under-the-hood updates. While most of what's in High Sierra isn't outwardly visible, there are some refinements to existing features and apps like Safari, Photos, Siri, FaceTime, and more.

We went hands-on with the High Sierra beta to give MacRumors readers a quick idea of what changes and improvements to expect when the software comes out this fall. Check out the video below to see what's new.


Some of the biggest app changes are in Photos, which has a persistent side bar, editing tools for Curves and Selective Color, new filters, options for editing Live Photos, new Memories categories, improved third-party app integration, and improvements to facial recognition, with the People album now synced across all of your devices.

Safari is gaining a new autoplay blocking feature for videos, Intelligent Tracking Prevention to protect your privacy, and options for customizing your browsing experience site-by-site, while Mail improvements mean your messages take up 35 percent less storage space.

Siri has a more natural voice, just like on iOS 11, and can answer more music-related queries. iCloud Drive file sharing has been added, and in High Sierra and iOS 11, all of your iMessage conversations are saved in iCloud, saving more storage space.

When installing High Sierra, it will convert to a new, more modern file system called Apple File System or APFS. APFS is safe, secure, and optimized for modern storage systems like solid-state drives. Features like native encryption, crash protection, and safe document saves are built in, plus it is ultra responsive and will bring performance enhancements to Mac.

APFS is accompanied by High Efficiency Video Encoding (HEVC) which introduces much better video compression compared to H.264 without sacrificing quality. The other major under-the-hood update is Metal 2, which will bring smoother animations to macOS and will provide developers with tools to create incredible apps and games.

Metal 2 includes support for machine learning, external GPUs, and VR content creation, with Apple even providing an external GPU development kit for developers so they can get their apps ready for eGPU support that's coming to consumers this fall. Apple is also working with Valve, Unity, and Unreal to bring VR creation tools to the Mac.

macOS High Sierra will run on all Macs that are capable of running macOS Sierra. For a more detailed overview of what's included in the update, make sure to check out our macOS High Sierra roundup.

Related Forum: macOS High Sierra

Top Rated Comments

true god Avatar
71 months ago
Really excited about APFS.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djcerla Avatar
71 months ago
The last few months made the Mac great again.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HobeSoundDarryl Avatar
71 months ago
Wow that reads like it auto-converts HFS to APFS. I wonder how it does that? Create new APFS partition, copy from HFS to APFS, reformat HFS partition to APFS, delete partition to end up with one big APFS partition?

Similarly, I wonder about the relationship of this and Time Capsule? Does Time Capsule remain as is or would it be converted to APFS too?

Can external HFS drive be auto-updated to APFS using the same approach?

Lots of questions.

Edit: lots of people are pointing to this as answers: https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2017/715/ Thanks to all.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CmdrLaForge Avatar
71 months ago
Kind of a Snow Leopard release. Looking forward to this.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
71 months ago
Can you expand upon this? And if it is clearly better, why do you think Apple didn't adopt it after all? They were working on support for a long time.
I don't know if it's where the OP was going, but one of the things ZFS has that APFS noticeably doesn't, is baked-in error correction and/or checksumming. Having a background task in the kernel slowly (continually or periodically) reading through the entire filesystem and comparing blocks read off the disk with their associated checksums, is huge. If a block goes bad, you find out about it soon, rather than "uh oh", when you really need it. With a filesystem that uses "free" space to store spare copies of blocks, the kernel may be able to recover it on the fly, but even without redundancy, it can flag that the affected file needs to be reloaded from backup (you have those right?) before passing time increases the odds of the backup being overwritten, getting lost, etc. Some sort of systematic kernel-level data integrity checking is the one bit sorely missing from APFS.

(I recall stories of early ZFS builds actually unearthing long-standing 1-in-a-billion errors in device drivers, disk controllers and such - they were occasionally reading back blocks that didn't match the expected checksums, in cases where, say, a device driver managed to not write out an updated copy of a disk block because it got interrupted in an unexpected pattern.)

As to upgrade speeds, APFS was designed so that you can build all the metadata/overhead off in the free space on the disk, and simply point it at/into the existing file content of an HFS+ filesystem (I believe BTRFS has this same feature), and Craig Federighi said during the DaringFireball podcast from WWDC that during the iOS 10.1 and 10.2 upgrades, they actually "migrated" everyone's filesystems to APFS - that is, built the extra metadata/header blocks in the disk's free space - then ran filesystem checks on the result, and sent diagnostic reports back to Apple if anything was amiss, and then discarded the new blocks, leaving everyone with their unharmed HFS+ filesystems. This explains both why the upgrade is so fast, and why it went quite smoothly when iOS 10.3 rolled out.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newyorksole Avatar
71 months ago
I think it's time to update this 2010 iMac of mine. High Sierra + iMac 2017 = Win

Then will supplement that with iPad 12.9" 2017 + iOS 11.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Emergency SOS via Satellite iPhone YT

Apple's iPhone 14 Emergency SOS via Satellite Feature Saves Stranded Man in Alaska

Thursday December 1, 2022 4:37 pm PST by
With the launch of iOS 16.1, Apple rolled out a Emergency SOS via Satellite, which is designed to allow iPhone 14 owners to contact emergency services using satellite connectivity when no cellular or WiFi connection is available. The feature was put to the test in Alaska today, when a man became stranded in a rural area. In the early hours of the morning on December 1, Alaska State Troopers ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.1.2 With Carrier Improvements and Crash Detection Optimizations

Wednesday November 30, 2022 10:09 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 16.1.2, another minor bug fix update that comes one week after the release of iOS 16.1.1 and three weeks after the launch of iOS 16.1, an update that added support for iCloud Shared Photo Library, Matter, Live Activities, and more. The iOS 16.1.2 update can be downloaded on eligible iPhones over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update. According...
iPad 10 Battery Pull Tabs

iPad 10 Teardown Reveals Why Device Isn't Compatible With Apple Pencil 2

Thursday December 1, 2022 10:48 am PST by
Do-it-yourself repair website iFixit today shared a video teardown of Apple's new 10th-generation iPad, providing a closer look inside the tablet and revealing why the device lacks support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. The teardown reveals the internal layout of the iPad, including its two-cell 7,606 mAh battery, logic board with the A14 Bionic chip, and more. As suspected, the...
iOS 16

When Will iOS 16.2 Be Released?

Friday December 2, 2022 2:13 pm PST by
Apple in late October began testing iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates, providing betas to both developers and public beta testers. As of now, we've had four total betas, with the fourth beta having been released earlier this week. iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 are expected before the end of the year, and we thought we'd try to narrow down the launch timeline. With only four betas released since...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

Major RAM Upgrade Coming to Next-Generation MacBook Pro

Friday December 2, 2022 2:03 am PST by
The next-generation MacBook Pro models could feature faster RAM, according to a recent report from a reliable source. MacRumors Forums member "Amethyst," who accurately revealed details about the Mac Studio and Studio Display before those products were announced, recently provided information about Apple's upcoming 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new machines are expected to feature...
iOS 16

Apple Still Has These 5 Things to Release Heading Into 2023

Thursday December 1, 2022 7:12 am PST by
The calendar has turned to December and that means Apple has only one month left to fulfill its promises of releasing an Apple Music Classical app and expanding its self-service repair program to Europe before the end of 2022. Delays are always possible, of course, so the plans could be pushed back to 2023. In any case, we have put together a list of five things that Apple still has to release...
iOS 16

Apple Seeds Fourth Betas of iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 [Update: Public Beta Available]

Thursday December 1, 2022 10:16 am PST by
Apple today seeded the fourth betas of upcoming iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the betas coming two weeks after Apple seeded the third betas of iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2. Registered developers are able to download the iOS 16‌.2 and iPadOS 16.2 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the beta is available over the air. iOS...
iPhone Measure Height

Newer iPhones Allow You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly — Here's How

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:23 am PST by
iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models feature a LiDAR Scanner next to the rear camera that can be used to measure a person's height instantly in Apple's preinstalled Measure app. To measure a person's height, simply open the Measure app, point your iPhone at the person you want to measure, and make sure they are visible on the screen from...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple Now Calling AR/VR Headset Operating System 'xrOS'

Thursday December 1, 2022 12:57 pm PST by
Apple has decided to call the software that will run on its upcoming AR/VR headset "xrOS," an update from the original "RealityOS or "rOS" naming the company was planning on, according to Bloomberg. Render created by Ian Zelbo based on rumored information The name change comes as Apple begins to prepare for the launch of the headset, which is expected at some point in 2023. The headset will...