Buying a new Mac

I’ve been sending out warnings to our Mac users that they will receive notifications from the macOS that an update is available and Big Sur is poised and ready to download in System Preferences. I still find this unbelievably irresponsible of Apple and that they should return to releasing their annual updates from the Mac App Store.

One reply came back asking whether they should return the Intel MacBook Pro 16” purchased last week and I thought some may find my reply below of help/interest:

“ Some crystal ball gazing needed here.

First the MacBook Pro 16” is a brilliant computer with a proven track record where everything will just work on it. Buying it just before the new buggy macOS release is perfect timing, as you get all the benefits of a year’s set of updates and bug fixes before the next unproven release is enforced upon you.

A new MacBook Pro 16” will be released within 12 months, maybe in the first half of next year. It will be advertised as faster, better and the future. In reality, many things may not work. You can guarantee that all Apple’s software, Mail, Photos, Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro will work brilliantly. Although, Microsoft have already announced that they are ‘working on a native version of Office for Apple Silicon’ the reality at the moment is shown in articles like this: Microsoft warns of slower first launches of Office apps on Apple Silicon Macs - Neowin

There is no doubt that the Intel versions of Macs will give good service and continue to work for at least 3 to 5 years, at which point most of us would be looking to update them anyway.

I’ll have a far better idea next week after our own Apple Silicon MacBook Pro 13” should arrive. We’re pretty sure that we’ll have major problems with Windows virtualisation using products like Parallels and we’ve no idea how good or bad Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation software for older apps will work (I went through Rosetta 1 when they swapped from PowerPC to Intel, and before that from Motorola 68000 series to PowerPC).

The short answer is that nobody knows. If you want a Mac that will work out of the box and run everything reliably, then keep the 16” MacBook Pro. If you want the latest and greatest in technology, but potentially are prepared for some interruption to your day-to-day work, then consider returning it.

There is one more proviso to the above. Apple have, as they have previously, taken the safe route and used all the existing body forms and just updated the internals, which is the safest thing to do.

No doubt, while we guinea-pigs are using these and finding all the problems that never appear in a test environment, they will already be working on brand new models with exciting new options that we’ve never seen before (for example, the new models all, allegedly, have fantastic performance and battery life, but imagine having that performance with battery life along current expectations, imagine how thin and light a MacBook could be, maybe face ID in the future, maybe even touch screen, who knows). Whether the next MacBook Pro 16” falls into the current ‘same outside, new inside’ or ‘unbelievably cool new model’ takes us back to the crystal ball.

Certainly I will be using my Intel 2019 MacBook Air for day-to-day and using the M1 MacBook Pro when I can. Currently, I can’t see beyond that.

Kindest regards



A good article to add to the above: This is why Apple’s new M1 Macs don’t have Face ID | WIRED UK

His @AndyHibbs

I’ve been sending out warnings to our Mac users that they will receive notifications from the macOS that an update is available and Big Sur is poised and ready to download in System Preferences. I still find this unbelievably irresponsible of Apple and that they should return to releasing their annual updates from the Mac App Store.

Big Sur is marked as an upgrade. This does not happen automatically, even with 'Automatically update' activated.

I'll wait some time before being a new Mac :slight_smile:

Btw. when will FMP be available as a native M1 app?

Andy I am not sure I understand that statement. Shouldn’t the second sentence be worded “but are NOT prepared to deal with potential interruptions to (...) then consider returning it”??

Hi Malcolm

You are quite correct and it ‘should’ not upgrade automatically (the statement to our client was entered for a good reason), but very few people will read that close enough to differentiate between upgrade and update. Particularly as currently there are hidden in the ‘More info...’ a Catalina supplemental update amongst others, so the user gets an update notification, goes into Software update and click’s upgrade.

This happened last year and upgraded every Mac to software obsolescence that cost this particular company thousands of GBP and a huge disruption to their business.

I could almost forgive Apple if they reversed this and displayed the updates and hid the upgrade, but pushing it out in ‘Software {emphasis on} ‘update’ is the wrong place unless all you use is Apple native software. Bearing in mind, wasn’t long ago that changes had to be made within the security settings to allow a Mac to run Apple’s software subsidiary’s product.

same here, I ordered a MacMini with M1 chip for testing and while waiting today already received questions from customers asking for Big Sur - compatibility - oh how I hate this "upgrade to the latest" apple started several years ago...

My plan is: test with the new setup and see what happens regarding hardware as well as software. I also will upgrade one of my older MacMinis just to compare Big Sur environments between hardware versions.

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@AndyHibbs, 'update' is definitely the wrong place for an 'upgrade' button.

A clarification as to why I went for the Pro version, rather than the Air, particularly as I find the concept of the touch bar abhorrent.

My needs over the last years has been lightness and portability, as virtually all our development work is using cloud based streamed copies of FileMaker and in the office I attach a large external display. Hence, the last 3 computers have been a MacBook 12” i5 (fantastically portable, but in the end the screen was just too small) and 2 MacBook Airs, the last one being a 16Gb 2019 model.

In normal circumstances we travel and often work while we travel, for instance last year we spent 2 weeks in Rhodes in October, working until about 14:00 and enjoying the heat, beach, sea and restaurants after that. Hence an iPad Pro 11” and Duet, now Sidecar, allows the minimum footprint for a 2 display setup when squeezing on to friends dining tables or outside furniture on a balcony.

With the M1 the requirement was for a laptop and I’ve struggled with 512Gb for a while, so a 16Gb/1Tb specification decided upon. This took the UK price for the MacBook Air to £1499 and the Pro to £1899. Removing the VAT (tax) that we can reclaim this reduced to £1374 for the Air and £1582.50 for the Pro, a £208.50 difference.

Normally the Air would have been a no brainer, but the first seeds of doubt was when checking the weight, the Air at 1.29kg (2.8lb) and the Pro at 1.4kg (3.0lb) a 0.11kg (3.2 ounces) difference. Then the closed height, the Air goes from 1.61cm at the thick end of the wedge to 0.41cm at the thin end, whereas the Pro is 1.56cm across, thinner than the thick end of the Air, making me question why the ‘Air’ is still called the ‘Air’.

So why the Pro. Simply, the fan! Yes, I’ve paid £208.50 for a fan; yes I get a 500 nits screen, rather 400 nits (don’t care, but maybe helpful in bright sunshine?), a Touch Bar (don’t want it), longer battery life (meh!), no more ports(!), same rubbish FaceTime camera, same everything else.

Simply, we want to test the compatibility and performance of the M1 as the software evolves and, when we are lucky enough to work outside on one of those rare English summer days, or on a post pandemic balcony in some sunny country, I’ll not be forced inside as my MacBook exceeds the safe operating temperature and, in normal conditions, we can test the sustained performance on those rare occasions I do need some local horsepower.

The first thing I’m going to test next week if all goes to plan, is whether Sidecar works, then despite the new Macs (both of them) only being able to run one external display, whether this also applies to Sidecar on the iPad Pro.

I know I should wait for the next generation laptops, but with the complexity of our cloud setup, we have to be ahead of our customers, for the same reason the original Big Sur email was sent in the first place.

There we go, over £200 for a fan (and at least I’ll get a decent keyboard for the first time in years)!

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In 'Apple/System Preferences', availability of 'Big Sur' is advertised as an '1 update'.
Click on it and this 'update' turns out to be 'macOS Big Sur' with an invitation to 'Upgrade Now'.
This is definitely misleading and most probably not line with Apple's own GUI guidelines.

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This is even slightly worse than that Torsten, my Mac reports 1


in the Apple Menu and in the red circle in System Preferences in the Dock.

However, there are actually 3 updates ‘macOS Catalina 10.15.7 Supplemental Update’ (a mere 1.2Gb), ‘Pro Video Formats’ and ‘Safari’, but all of these are hidden in the ‘More Info...’ button in the ‘Software Update’ system preference. The only ‘single’ item displayed is macOS Big Sur and the ‘Upgrade Now’ button. For the average user, this is almost entrapment and certainly not representative at any level.

They really should return to the App Store rollout, this is an accident waiting to happen.


Average user... and spaced out not so averaged. Clicked it :confounded:

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I just received this at 17:00 on Saturday, “ Hi – is it ok for me to install this new MacOS upgrade on my iMac & MacBook? As you know, they’re both on Catalina now”

At least he checked.

Good luck Cecile, thank you for being our guinea-pig​:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Please let us know how you get on.:crossed_fingers:t2:

@Cecile, do you use Time Machine ? If so then it's easy to go back. If not, all you can do is feel sorry.

For all Mac users, here is something you should do. When a Mac is upgraded to the newest macOS system, the installer is first downloaded locally and then called. The things is the installer will be deleted a short while after. So move the installer away from where it was downloaded and it will not be deleted :smiley:. Then anytime you wish to go back, you may create a USB key with the installer !

It's a pity that Apple don't let you choose the time of the upgrade. Up until last year, there was a CLI command to tell macOS to forget about a specific version . . . not anymore. There remains a way to control this - well I hope it's still there - is to centralize upgrades.


To complete the process, I’ve now run the 3 updates, hence I have no pending updates to run. However, the System Preferences under the Apple Menu and in the Dock both still show 1 update available, annoyingly displaying in the dock with the red/white circle/text.

There are now also 8 app updates via the App store, but only 7 will update as Garageband requires macOS 11, so I wonder whether I’ll also have a perpetual notification that I have an update that I can’t install in Catalina.

Come on Apple, you can do better than this and for goodness sake acknowledge that not everyone runs their business with Photos, Music, Pages, Numbers and Keynote :joy:


For any macOS upgrade, my strong preference is to download the OS installer from the Apple Store and run it myself once the download completed at the time I choose.

I do not like relying on the "new & improved" system preferences software updates to apply a new OS.

I do understand this to be misleading to a good number of users, generating quite some confusion around when it may be safe or not to carry on with what is suggested by system preferences.

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I’ve been let down by the couriers today, so have to wait another day to get my hands on the MacBook Pro. It was reportedly in the DPD Leicester depot, hence I got somewhat nervous when I saw this: M1 lorry hijack gang stole £5m of Apple products, say police | Crime | The Guardian

So was that a bunch of ‘M1’s stolen on the ‘M1’?


Nomen est omen...

I don’t use Time Machine yet.
Good new, despite having clicked for the Big Sur upgrade, I was able to quit the install once the files were finished downloading. Phew!


:crossed_fingers: the MacBook Pro delivery takes place today and it hasn’t been scuppered by the M1 theft (2 references in one there).

However, on my 2019 MacBook Air, I now have (annoying) warnings on the App Store and System Preferences icons in the Dock and in the Apple menu that there are updates available, one for Big Sur, the other for Garageband. However, neither are updates, both are upgrades and the only way to remove these, that I can see, is to upgrade to Big Sur. Great, the first thing I’ll lose will be my Sophos Anti Virus, as they are still working on providing a compatible version. No problem there then :confounded:

Do you know when you will miss TimeMachine the most ? When you will badly need it.

On Mac Mini I use TimeMachine. But there is one thing that I dislike: it takes a backup every hour or ... or none. But there is a cure by the name of TimeMachineEditor With it you select when TimeMachine will take a backup. It can be schedule every 5 hours, or at specified times during the day. And it's free.