Apple announced macOS version 14, "Sonoma," on 06 Jun 2023.
Apple released macOS 14.0 on 26 Sep 2023.
Apple released macOS 14.1 on 25 Oct 2023 with 4 bug fixes and many features.
Apple released macOS 14.1.1 on 07 Nov 2023 with bug fixes.
Apple released macOS 14.2 on 11 Dec 2023 with bug fixes and many features.

This note will describe how to update a computer from an older version of macOS to Sonoma.

The latest version of macOS is version 14.1.1, "Sonoma", relesed on 07 Nov 2023.

I have not installed Sonoma on any computers.

Useful Web Sites

Show Stoppers

Many reports of bugs on first boot. Some of these go away on reboot, some don't.

Features of Sonoma

See Apple's site macOS Sonoma Preview.

According to Howard Oakley's Mac Problem Solving page,

Should I Install Sonoma?

Installing Sonoma on an Old Mac

A Mac that is too old will not run Sonoma. Many Macs before 2019 are not supported.

What you Should Do Now to Get Ready for Sonoma

Who Can Update

Not everyone can use the new OS version.

Plan your install

When you decide to install Sonoma, do it carefully. You may find that there are issues that affect you: do your homework. Check MacInTouch to see if there are problems with macOS 14 that affect you.

Make sure you back up your entire disk before starting to install Sonoma. Preferably to more than one place.

Make a list of the hardware you depend on, and search the web to check that each device will work. Older printers and scanners can have issues.

Leave yourself enough time. Upgrading will tie up your computer for a big part of a day. Installing takes an hour or two, but then your computer will be very slow until it re-does the Spotlight index and does a big backup up to Time Machine.

Particular issues before upgrading

Here is a partial list of minimum program versions needed for Sonoma. For other programs, check product websites. TO BE UPDATED.

ProgramMinimum VersionNotes
Aquamacs Emacs3.6
Audacity3.0464-bit at last
Adobe PhotoshopCC Photoshop CC is $120/yr. See below. (ARM supported.)
Adobe IllustratorCC Illustrator CC is $240/yr. See below. (ARM supported.)
Apple XCode14 free with registration; also install Command Line Developer Tools in Terminal
Little Snitchx A new version of Little Snitch is required for Sonoma. (Some Apple traffic such as Maps and ads doesn't show in Little Snitch. This sucks.)
Brother HL-4150CDN driver Brother does not support this printer, according to their website. Support stopped at 10.15.x Catalina. Apple no longer maintains I have this printer and it is working OK on Sonoma using the CUPS driver.
Brother HL-5450DN driver Brother does not support this printer, according to their website. See above. (Mine works.)
HomebrewXXX for Sonoma Replaces MacPorts.
Microsoft Office2021 $129
OnyxXXX free
Super Duper3.7 You should change all your backup volumes to be APFS.
Brother P-Touch Editor5.3.13
Banktivity8 $50/yr.

Adobe: Renting Instead of Buying

Adobe no longer sells regular application versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat. Instead they rent you a Creative Cloud subscription. Stop paying, the apps stop working. They tell you that one advantage is that you'll get bug fixes and new features whenever they decide to release them. (There are a lot of tricky deals, initial teasers, different bundles. You could pay $20/app/mo or $600/yr for all CC apps. Adobe also sells Photoshop Elements 2020 and Premiere Elements 2020 as non-cloud applications for $100 each one-time, or both for $150.)

There are alternatives to Adobe products. I am using Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. I need a replacement for Adobe Acrobat: PDFPen ($80) is looking attractive. There is a program called PDF Expert but its web site does not say how much it costs. I am not going to install it just in order to find out.

Microsoft: Renting Instead of Buying

Microsoft wants to rent you "Office 365" for $70/yr, $100/yr for up to 6 people. You can still buy a "forever" Home and Student version of Office 2019 for about $130.

Quicken and Banktivity: Renting Instead of Buying

Installing Sonoma

I have not installed Sonoma on any machines. THIS SECTION MUST BE UPDATED AFTER I INSTALL SONOMA.

  1. Clean up and update software before installing.
    • You can download the Sonoma Installer from  ► System Preferences... ► Software Update. It is free. This downloads a large file, the Sonoma Installer, to your disk. You can create a bootable installer volume on a USB key using these instructions. (But see the TidBits article "Previously Downloaded OS X Installers No Longer Work".) Apple's license terms say you can update all your computers with one purchase.
    • Get the applications on your computer ready for 14.0: apply the latest fixes.
    • Delete junk files. Carefully.
    • Delete Safari, iTunes, and Firefox caches, so your backup will be faster.
    • Write down your settings for applications and system parameters, e.g. your desktop background and screensaver. Some Apple-provided screensaver pictures may not be available in the next version: make a safe copy of anything you will want after upgrading.
    • Empty the Trash.
    • Clean up damaged and duplicate fonts.
    • Have your software license keys handy in case you have to re-authorize products.

    For Programmers

    • If you use MySQL, back up your databases with mysqldump databasename > db.sql. Then stop MySQL.
    • If you use Apache, save a copy of /etc/apache2/httpd.conf.
    • If you installed modules via CPAN, Macports, or Fink, make a list of them. In a Terminal window, type
      perldoc perllocal | grep :: > cpan_modules.txt
      port -qv installed > macports_packages.txt
    • The best way to handle Homebrew is to uninstall it and reinstall Homebrew and items it installs after updating the OS. To list your ports do brew list > brewmods.txt in a Terminal window. Also list the CPAN modules you have installed, because you'll have to reinstall them.
  2. Backup and prepare.
    • BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE to an external disk. I used SuperDuper to clone my whole drive. Some cautious people make two backups.
    • If you are using an anti-virus product like Microsoft Defender ATP, disable it, or installation will fail. Some anti-malware programs see the utility that converts HFS to APFS as malware, and prevent it from running. Since most anti-virus software is tightly integrated with the operating system, you may have to install a Sonoma-specific version of your software after installing Sonoma anyway. Check with the maker of your software.
    • If you connect your Mac to the network using Wi-Fi, select  ► System Preferences... ► Network ► Wi-Fi and delete any Wi-Fi networks you don't want to use. (If you don't, your computer may connect to a very slow network during installation, which will slow down your install.)
  3. Install
    • If you use a wireless mouse or keyboard, put in fresh batteries.
    • Set screen saver to NEVER, and turn off Time Machine.
    • Dismount and unplug or power off external drives.
    • Restart your computer. (I've had problems where my computer hangs on shutdown. Restarting seems to fix it for a while. Don't want this trouble when installing a new OS.)
    • Run the Sonoma (macOS 14.0) installer. If you downloaded it, use that copy. Or you can just select  ► System Preferences... ► Software Update and install by clicking on the link.
      • If FileVault is enabled on your computer, the installer will ask for a password to unlock the disk.
      • The installer will run for about 15 minutes, then reboot, then run for about an hour, then reboot again. Might ask for your password again.
      • The "time remaining" will show wildly varying estimates as the installer proceeds.
      • Don't panic if you see a gray screen with "30 minutes remaining" for an hour. Just let it run.
      • Eventually you will be presented with a login screen; enter your password.
      • You will see a window about privacy.
      • Next you will be asked if you want to send analytic information to Apple.
      • Then you will be asked if you want light mode or dark mode appearance. (You can change this later.)
      • Then the system will display your desktop. All your files and applications should be there.
      • You will probably be asked for your AppleID and password at least once.
    • If Sonoma asks you if you want to "enable Desktop and Documents folder syncing to iCloud," the safest thing to do is to say NO. You can turn it on later. I use iCloud for this and it seems to be great.. but I had to move things around to make it work right and there are still issues. If you say YES, these folders will be backed up in iCloud and available on all devices, which you may not want. and saying YES may also enable "Optimize Storage" without asking, which will delete files from your computer's drive if it gets too full. Check  ► System Settings... ► Internet Accounts ► iCloud ► Optimize Mac Storage to make sure. Adam Engst's TidBITS article on Optimized Storage is very helpful.
    • Once the install has completed, use  ► System Settings... ► General ► Software Update and  ► App Store... to make sure you have installed the latest versions of Apple software. This step may find additional OS and application updates (might take another hour).
    • Do a "smoke test" to verify that your computer is working OK. Make sure the applications you depend on are still working. Try out the applications from Apple that were updated with the OS. If you have trouble, restore your backup and go back to the old OS version.
  4. Recover
    • Wait for Spotlight to finish indexing (may take several hours). Performance will suck till it finishes.
    • Turn on Time Machine and start your backup.
    • Restart the computer. Often this speeds things up.

Post Install Tasks

Once you are satisfied that your computer works acceptably, and you are going to stay on Sonoma, you can make some adjustments.


You will probably want to set up per-user customizations, such as your desktop background and screensaver. Visit every setting in  ► System Settings... and make sure it is what you want, and choose values for new settings. After each new OS generation this is something of an adventure; functions get renamed and moved around. See below.


Re-Installing Programming Tools

If you use your computer for programming, you'll need to re-install your tools, which may have release-dependent parts. Do these steps in the right order. THIS SECTION MUST BE UPDATED AFTER I INSTALL SONOMA.

  1. If you are a Java user, type the command java in a Terminal window. If you don't have Java 8 installed, this action will bring up a dialog box: click More Info to bring up the Oracle JDK installation page in a web browser, and trigger the installation of the Java 8 JDK from Oracle over the Internet. (check this) Java is needed for Eclipse and for other Mac applications, such as OpenOffice, and VPN clients such as Cisco. Java is not dangerous, if you use it to run code you trust: using it to run web page animations has had some problems.

  2. Install the full Xcode package for Sonoma using the App Store, This will take a long time, about an hour, and will install system header files. Then, in a Terminal window, execute xcode-select -- all this does is to request  ► System Settings... ► General ► Software Update to install the command line tools. Next run Software Update to install them.

  3. Homebrew: see my instructions for Homebrew. When I upgraded from Big Sur, I installed the Apple tools, and then did brew update, brew upgrade, and brew cleanup in Terminal.

    In Terminal, install MySQL first, then Perl, and then use the cpan or cpanm command to reinstall your CPAN modules.

    If you install new versions of Perl, Python, or Ruby, check your PERL5LIB and other language environment variables before using them to install other software, or installs may fail with messages about variants.

    (In Sonoma, Homebrew moved to /opt from /usr/local and I found I had to plant some links in /usr/local/bin to their /opt versions. This might be an error in my installs.)

  4. MySQL: Install MySQL 8.0.32 by doing brew install mysql. If you dumped your database, reload it with mysql < db.sql. MySQL has to be installed before you can install DBD::mysql with CPAN.

  5. MaxMind: If you use Perl module MaxMind::DB::Reader::XS, you must download and install libmaxminddb from before installing the MaxMind module with CPAN. Install any other libraries that are used by Perl modules at this point.

  6. HTML Tidy: Get a universal binary from

  7. Perl/CPAN: If you use Perl and Perl modules, install them. Perl 5.36.0 is installed by MacPorts as it installs various modules. See the instructions for installing CPAN for a list of modules I use. This is the time to install Python and Ruby libraries also.

  8. Apache web server: Apache was installed with Sonoma on my machine, but disabled. I had to update httpd.conf to incorporate my changes. PHP was disabled in the new Apache config, fine by me. But see below: you cannot put local pages to be served by Apache in $HOME/Documents.

  9. Update Golang and Rust and any other development languages you use that are not installed by Homebrew.

Sonoma Observations

Bugs and Surprises in Sonoma

Ric Ford describes a new feature, "FaceTime video reactions", on by default, in Sonoma that causes your camera to detect certain gestures and send visual effexts like confetti or fireworks. You can disable this.

Howard Oakley reports that Sonoma’s changes to iCloud may stop Time Machine backups completing. He says "For some, upgrading to Sonoma brings a slew of problems with iCloud and iCloud Drive. As these can spill over to stop Time Machine backups from completing, their consequences can worsen your troubles."

Surprise: All windows hide

Clicking on the desktop wallpaper will hide all windows. This behavior can be turned off in  ► System Settings... ► Desktop + Stage Manager ► Click Wallpaper to reveal desktop by setting it to Only in Stage Manager and then not using Stage Manager.

Features Removed From Sonoma

Mail plugins are no longer supported by macOS. GPG Tools are not working either.

New Features and Changes in Sonoma

(to be written)

New Sonoma Features I Am Not Using Yet

(to be written)

Planning for the next version

The next macOS version, (name not known), will released in Fall 2024. Beta is available now.

Keep a list of the software and devices you use and depend on, so you can check that they are supported.

Home | FAQ © 2010-2023, Tom Van Vleck updated 2023-12-13 10:31