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I'm not a expert by any means and am stuck with upgrading my MacBook Pro to Sierra. I checked all the sys reqs before I went ahead and made a full back up - all looked good to go.

I downloaded Sierra from the App Store and followed the on-screen steps to set the upgrade in motion. Never had an issue updating OS so I went and made dinner and came back a bit later to find what appears to be the start up screen with the macOS Utilities window open asking me if I want to restore a Time Machine back up, reinstall macOS, get help online, or use the disk utility. So I'm not sure if there were any error messages during the process.

I can't find any reference to this happening online - perhaps because it's super basic and everyone else knows what to do!

I don't want to make it a bigger mess or do anything unnecessary like restore from back up if this is just a failed upgrade that if I restart all will be as if I hadn't tried to upgrade. I now have a sneaking suspicion that my existing operating sys might not have been the one able to go straight to Sierra. Would that have triggered an specific error message? Otherwise I have seen some reference to permissions being the issue - could that be the case? Can I fix this myself? Or should just take it into an Apple store and pay for support?

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It seems like your Mac is booted into the Recovery partition. Shut it down and try to boot it normally - it may not have upgraded at all. Then try the install again. If you have updates for your question, edit your question to add them and then comment on this answer so I notice.

To answer a few of the other questions you had:

  • I would expect an error message to stick around, so you probably didn't miss one.
  • I doubt permissions would be an issue as you didn't see an error message.
  • If upgrading to Sierra was not supported, you probably wouldn't have been able to start the install.
  • You can almost certainly fix this yourself! Also, the Apple Store may not charge you for this, so it could certainly be worth stopping by.

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