macOS High Sierra arrives with new Files system, 4K codec, Safari and Photos boosts

Apple’s has released macOS High Sierra as a free download for Mac users with compatible machines.

Announced at WWDC, High Sierra is the 13th major version of Apple’s desktop operating system.

Although it has been available in public beta for months, the final version can be grabbed today from App Store > Updates on your Mac.

The update may be light on front-facing new features, with major change coming through a new back-end for the Apple directory system.

Related: macOS High Sierra features tested

Apple says the new File System lays a new foundation for macOS, that will future-proof the operating system and bring “a new level of security and responsiveness.”

Elsewhere, a Safari update makes it easier to block auto-playing videos by default, enables reading mode wherever available and adds intelligent tracking that keeps ad providers from following you around the web.

The Photos app gains a more robust editing suite, improved organizational tools and a better sidebar.

Built for 4K and VR

The company has also introduced a new HEVC video standard designed to improve 4K video streaming.

The new codec can compress video up to 40% more than the existing H.264 standard. This will make streaming easier without reducing quality. Downloaded files will take up less space on the Mac also.

Another significant addition is support for virtual reality headsets. Owners of new 5K iMacs (and those thinking about buying the soon-to-be-released 2017 Mac Pro) will be able to use a HTC Vive headset, complete with SteamVR support.

Mac owners without those machines can also gain access if they pair the macOS High Sierra device with a compatible external GPU.

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