Forgive me for what is probably a very silly question, but I just got my first Mac. I used to use PCs with Ubuntu because my friends got me using it because I didn't like Windows 8.

I'm not strong with computers, I didn't like Ubuntu and all the problems that i needed a expert to help with so I went to Apple.

Now some of my friends are telling me I must upgrade to sierra while others are saying to wait. I like El Capitan because it's working well.

Do I have to upgrade? Is it required?

  • 3
    No. No. Backup is a much more important task to stay in good relationship with a computer. My personnal receipe is: when you have one full year of OS with no bad booby trap, and one full year of usable backups, then you can consider jumping onto the next OS version. I am just upgrading to El Capitan on my network. On the other hand I am testing Sierra but on scratch filesystem, not on production Macs.
    – dan
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 16:26

4 Answers 4


No, you are not required to upgrade to macOS 10.12, Sierra. While the upgrade is free, it is not compulsory.

Many, including myself, recommend waiting before upgrading. This additional time after a major macOS launch gives time for problems and regressions to be discovered.

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    I echo this sentiment. While I love to try out the latest and greatest, on the machines I do my work on I wait to upgrade. If this is your machine you use on a daily basis, stick with El Cap for now and upgrade later on.
    – Allan
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 13:40
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    +1 but I'd like to add to that, that it does make sense to upgrade eventually & not let yourself fall years behind, as that can also lead to compatibility issues.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 13:41
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    What @Tetsujin said. While immediately updating can be risky, not updating over time is arguably worse. Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 14:03
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    My personnal experience since more than 16 versions of MacOS brings me to consider that the answer of Graham is the best one. All editors output new versions just for brand new users. The other and most notably professionnal users tend to consider that this throughput of new versions (a major version per year) is just a form of advertising (like the one you see in too long movies just to make sure you are not fallen asleep :) ).
    – dan
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 16:17
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    This is good to know. Everytime i had an issue with Ubuntu, the answer was to upgrade or try a different version. I have everything working on Mac now and i dont want to upgrade when nothing is wrong.
    – Buck Naked
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 20:25

You're indeed not required to upgrade to Sierra and you can run El Capitan for years. But the upgrade is preferable because the new version can include new functionality, bug fixes, improved security etc.

I have a bad experience with upgrading from Maverick to Yosemite (I upgraded as soon as possible), when the system was suddenly slower then before. It was better after few weeks when some updates were released. So my current strategy is to wait 2-3 months after the new Mac OS release until major problems are discovered and fixed, then upgrade.

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    E; Capitan will have security fixes for several years
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 12:49

it will eventually be, sooner or later, so i wouldn't delay, myself.

OSX 10.9 is no longer receiving security updates: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201222

OSX support lifespans


by the way, siri on mac is actually pretty good.


If you don't need the new features of the latest macOS, and aren't troubled by any bugs in your current version that are fixed in the new version, you have no need to upgrade.

However you should be aware that Apple generally support only the latest 2 - 3 versions of macOS (formerly OS X) with security updates, so in 1 - 2 years' time you may find your current OS is no longer updated to fix any security issues that may emerge. So you might want to consider upgrading before this happens.

The macOS App Store will only offer you an upgrade to the latest OS version, but you can download and keep the upgrade installer without installing the upgrade - just quit out of the installer rather than proceeding, and it will sit in your Applications folder until you choose to run it. By doing this you can keep the option open to upgrade to Sierra after the next version is released, should you decide that you'd rather not go to the latest one for some reason. Alternatively I believe an Apple Store can install a non-current version for you if you take your Mac in to them.

If you have a full bootable backup of your Mac on an external disk, using a program like SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner, it's straightforward to restore your system to exactly how it was before the upgrade, so you can try the new OS out and revert if you hit a problem. Alternatively you can install the new version on the external disk and boot from that, although bear in mind when evaluating the new OS that running from an external drive will usually be slower than from the built-in storage - also make sure you have a separate backup, just in case newer versions of apps like iTunes or Photos modify data on your built-in drive such that the older version can no longer read it.

I tried to find a definitive statement on the 2 - 3 version support cycle but it doesn't seem to be a published Apple policy, just the typical trend over the last few versions.

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