macOS 101: What High Sierra Broke and How to Fix It

It’s almost become a tradition; one that we wish we didn’t have to put up with. It seems with each new version of the Mac operating system, there are some features that just don’t seem to work the way they used to. The tradition lives on with macOS High Sierra, so we’re gathering a list of what High Sierra broke and how to fix it (when you can).

Drive Encryption Can Change Formatting
Encrypting an entire drive to add a level of security has been an easy task in the Mac OS ever since FileVault 2 was released as part of OS X Lion. Full disk encryption has been a boon for Mac users who worry about their personal data being easily accessible on their Macs or external drives. This is especially true for portable Mac users, who need to worry about their Macs being lost or stolen.

macOS High Sierra continues to support full disk encryption, but Mike Bombich, who created Carbon Copy Cloner, has verified a bug in High Sierra that will cause an external drive to have its format changed from HFS+ to APFS when the drive is encrypted in High Sierra.

Enabling encryption on a drive should not alter the underlying drive format. If the drive was HFS+ (Hierarchical File System) before you chose to encrypt it, it should remain an HFS+ drive afterwards. The same is true for APFS (Apple File System) formatted drives; choosing the encryption option shouldn’t change the APFS format of the drive.

Related: A Note On High Sierra Compatibility with Third Party SSDs

(Encrypting an external drive can lead to the drive being converted to an APFS volume.)

Under certain conditions, encrypting a drive will modify the format to APFS without the user being aware of the changes.

The specific conditions are:

  • Must be an external drive
  • Must not have a Mac operating system installed on the drive

If these two conditions are met, and you select the option to encrypt the drive, by right-clicking the drive icon and selecting Encrypt from the popup menu, the drive will be converted to APFS format and then encrypted.

Even though the drive has been converted to APFS and encrypted, it will continue to work just fine with your Mac running macOS High Sierra. The problem comes about should you ever connect the drive to a Mac running an earlier version of the Mac operating system, or if you boot your Mac to an earlier version of the OS. In either case, the external drive won’t be recognizable by the older operating system.

Our recommendation is not to encrypt your external drive, unless converting to APFS is acceptable to you, and you have no plans to use the drive with earlier versions of the Mac operating system.

Being Logged Out Randomly
If you find yourself occasionally being logged out of your Mac after you upgraded to macOS High Sierra, you can stop worrying; your Mac isn’t possessed. Instead, the upgrade process may have enabled two security options that you may not have been using before.

(If you’re being logged out from time to time, it may be because the Log out option, shown above, has been set during the installation of macOS High Sierra.)

To correct the phantom logouts, launch System Preferences, either by clicking on its Dock icon, or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

In the System Preferences window, select the Security & Privacy preference pane.

From the Security & Privacy preference pane, click the Lock icon and enter your administrator credentials. Once the padlock is unlocked, click on the Advanced button.

Either remove the checkmark from “Log out after xx minutes of inactivity” or set the time frame to a longer period to meet your needs. Click the OK button when done.

The second security issue that may be causing the problem is also located in the Security & Privacy preference pane. Select the General tab.

The item: “Require password xx minutes after sleep or screen saver begins” may also be checked. You can remove the checkmark, or modify the amount of time that needs to pass before the screen saver kicks in to better fit your needs. My own preference is to leave this security feature in place, and just adjust the time as needed.

While you’re at it, you may want to jump over to the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane to adjust the time for when the screen saver starts up.

(Be sure to check the General tab of the Security & Privacy preferences for password requirements to wake from sleep. These may have also been changed during the install.)

Select the Screen Saver tab, then use the Start after: dropdown menu to select how much inactive time needs to elapse before the screen saver starts

High Sierra Battery Life is Poor
Another issue that seems to be common is portable Mac battery life being adversely affected after an upgrade to High Sierra. So far, it seems that macOS High Sierra isn’t the culprit; instead, there are a few apps that may need to be updated to make better use of the battery.

Launch Activity Monitor, located at /Applications/ Utilities.

In the Activity Monitor window, select the Energy tab.

(Activity Monitor’s Energy tab can help you find apps gulping down the power from your battery.)

In the resulting display, look for apps that are marked as preventing sleep, or are listed as having a high energy impact. Contact the app developer to see if there are updates available for the app to make it perform better with macOS High Sierra.

Unable to Wake From Sleep
I’m not sure what it is about sleep, but the Mac seems to always have issues with sleep after a system upgrade. There have been reports of Macs not being able to wake from sleep after upgrading to High Sierra.

Unrelated, but with the same solution, is a flickering of the display, especially when the Safari browser is open.

You can fix both issues by resetting the NVRAM and then resetting the SMC.

You can find detailed instructions on how to perform these resets in the article:

How to Reset NVRAM, PRAM, SMC on your Mac.

Office 2011 Crashes
If you’re using Office 2011 for the Mac with macOS High Sierra, you’re not having any issues, you’re having occasional crashes, or Office simply refuses to launch at all.

That about covers most of the possibilities. The problem is Microsoft decided not to support Office 11 under macOS High Sierra, meaning they haven’t tested the apps nor are they going to offer any updates to correct any issues. Essentially, Office 2011 is on its own. If it works for you, wonderful, but if you have any issues, it may be time to consider a replacement.

Of course, software apps do get old, and Office 11 has been around for a long time, in software years. If you have a specific need for Microsoft Office, the Office 2016 for Mac version works fine and is fully supported under macOS High Sierra.

If you just need a Word or Excel work-alike that you can use to share files with others, there are a few options available. If you have a suggestion that you know works with High Sierra, please leave a note in the Comments, below.

Mail Stops Notifying You of New Mail

Have you noticed that Mail is no longer alerting you of new incoming messages via the Notifications center? If you’re used to seeing a banner pop up in the top right corner of your Mac’s display with a brief description of a new piece of mail whenever new mail arrives, you may have noticed the banners stopped once you installed High Sierra.

This bug doesn’t seem to affect everyone, but it happens often enough that Apple should be able to fix the issue in a subsequent update of High Sierra.

But you don’t need to wait for Apple; you can fix the issue yourself by opening System Preferences and selecting Notifications.

Highlight Mail in the Notifications window sidebar, and then select None as the Mail alert style. Wait a moment, then set the notifications style back to Banners or Alerts, whichever you prefer.

Close the Notifications preference pane.

(The Notifications center may need its mail handling alert style reset to work properly after installing High Sierra.)

Launch Mail if it isn’t already running. Mail notifications should now work correctly.

Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator Issues
Adobe Photoshop has a minor issue with High Sierra that prevents the Photoshop window from expanding to full screen whenever the Dock is shown.

Adobe has created a Photoshop plug-in file that can rectify the problem. You’ll find instructions on how to download and install the plug-in at the Adobe Help website.

Adobe Illustrator is experiencing some issues with High Sierra; specifically, the licensing system seems to be broken when the startup drive uses the APFS file system. The result is Illustrator may not launch, or there will be an error message about license problems.

Adobe recommends not upgrading to High Sierra, or not converting to the APFS file system at this time.

There’s an additional issue with Illustrator on macOS High Sierra that results in the wrong color settings being applied; specifically, Emulate Adobe Illustrator 6 becomes the default color setting and is applied to any document you open or new document you create.

The workaround is to manually change the color settings before working with any document.

Select Edit, Color Settings, and then choose the desired settings for the document.

Click OK.

Open the document you wish to work on.

You’ll need to repeat these steps each time you launch Illustrator, or before you open a document that uses a different color space.

Other High Sierra Problems and Fixes
macOS High Sierra is still relatively new, and I suspect there will be quite a few additional issues that will crop up. If you encounter any problems with using High Sierra, please feel free to share with our readers by leaving a comment.

If you’re having High Sierra install issues, you can leave a comment in the Rocket Yard guide: Common Problems During and After macOS High Sierra Installation.

[Update] Stay tuned for issues that you might encounter when running macOS Mojave.



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  • I have Macbook pro 17 inch early 2011 with MacOS High Sierra version 10.13.6 (17G5019)
    It is extremely slow and everytime I try the right click on my Logitech bluetooth mouse, it makes the program or window that was opened to close instantly.
    Then the window just re opened after a few seconds without any changes.
    How can I recover my right click and get speedy MacBook Pro back?

    Thanks in advance for your help!




  • I’ve updated to High Sierra and my adobe illustrator/photoshop (CS5) have stopped working. The programs will load but when I try to perform the first function the program crashes. HELP!




  • Upgraded to High Sierra 10:13:6 on my iMac and now it doesn’t recognise any previously burnt dvd in the internal drive. Help




  • How can I stop Skype trying to force me to authenticate installation of an update and likewise a “helper”? Skype is effectively rendered useless. I have resisted upgrading Mac OS from High Sierra to Mojave.




  • I upgraded to Mac OS High Sierra twice and all works well. But as soon as I get the security update my apple mail won’t work the pass word I enter connects and asked what applications you want to associate mail and notes you hit oh but just hangs there and never connects




  • I can no longer minimize the screen and adjust it to the size I like. The green button now either makes it FULL SCREEN or shrinks it vertically to a narrow strip that is not adjustable.




  • Help – where did all my desktop files and folders go to when Mac Pro automatically upgraded to High Sierra (which I had NOT requested – grrr).




  • My entire desktop files disappeared when the system automatically updated to High Sierrra. I did NOT request upgrade, in fact had been avoiding it since the LAST fiasco upgrade. How do I find/restore all my important files that I kept on the desktop?? I can’t find them anywhere :-(




    • Look in the iCloud drive. It could be that where they are: it is an option that you can disable in the iCloud prefs (System prefs > iCloud > iCloud Drive > Options…).

      Uncheck Migrate Desktop and Documents to iCloud Drive.




  • I do not have a smart phone and do not look at photographs stored on my computer and have no need to sync to anything. So why upgrade from Sierra, and I am actually not certain why I upgraded from El Capitan to Sierra. Nothing gave me any confidence to upgrade.




    • There are more issues to consider than Photos or syncing or whatever. Each OS upgrade has features that some people like and others don’t. That’s par for the course.

      You can use Sierra for another year. It will be under the Apple security umbrella for that long. After that there will be no more security updates for macOS 10.12. If security is not important to you, you can sit on Sierra indefinitely. As for syncing, Sierra can do that perfectly well; you don’t need to upgrade to get that capability. So syncing means nothing to you; in any case syncing is no reason for upgrading to High Sierra or Mojave.

      Incompatible software is perhaps the biggest reason for not upgrading. But you should not feel that you have to upgrade. Don’t fall for the hype, especially if none of it applies to you. Stick with what works, for the time being at least. You won’t need to decide anything for at least a year.

      If you do decide to try an upgrade at some point, back up your system first. That way you can downgrade if the new system doesn’t doesn’t work for you.




  • After an inadvertent restructering of my MBA drive while trying to convert an external drive to NTFS, the MBA crashs with several minutes after disconecting the power cable, even after resetting SMC and NVRAM. The 2-yeara old battery status reported by Battery Health app is “Good” at “101%”. After reinstalling High Sierra, the problem persists.




    • If you were farsighted enough to back up your computer recently, you should consider restarting from the backup, reformatting your internal drive and restoring your system from backup.

      If you don’t have a backup to work with, you’re in for a lot of troubleshooting. Start with Disk Utility. Then use DiskWarrior and TechTool Pro. Alternatively, take your computer into an Apple Store and plan to pay them to troubleshoot/fix the problem. That may cost you little more than buying DiskWarrior and TechTool Pro, if you don’t already have them. However, back up your data before you visit the Apple store because they are unlikely to do so. Actually, given the symptoms, the Apple store may be your best alternative, as the problem may be deeper than repair utilities can sniff out.




  • I have a 2011 iMac desktop with High Sierra. Often, I go to a website and the screen is completely by the opened window. The “ESCAPE” button doesn’t bring me back and I can’t access the apple logo/ System preferences as the screen is completely covered by the opened window. How do i get out of that screen?
    Thank you




    • Several things you might try. First, move your cursor to the upper right corner of the screen. In full screen mode this should expose the button to escape full screen. Or, if the green button shows at the top left corner of the window, clicking it should return the window to normal size. If either of these does not work, quit web browser you’re using; go to system preferences and see if you are using the maximum screen size. If not, you can enlarge the screen and then open the web browser again and see if it still fills the screen. If not, you can manually downsize the window and then reset your screen resolution.

      Another option is to try to reach the edge of the browser window with the cursor on either side. If you can get the resize pointer to show you can manually drag the window to a smaller size. Let us know if any one of these solutions works.