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6 macOS Sierra problems and how to fix them



macOS Sierra problems: All you need to know to deal with some of macOS Sierra's issues.

Apple released macOS Sierra earlier in the year and it's steadily been getting updates to squash some of those bugs you'd expect from software updates.

Sierra added Siri support and new ways to spend money via added Apple Pay features. But sometimes, believe it or not, software doesn't quite work the way it was intended, and Apple's operating systems are no exception.

While you should get a great experience from macOS Sierra, you may encounter the odd issue – which is why we're here.

Although it's early days, we've rounded up a collection of known and expected issues with Sierra, and provided some tips on overcoming them, so you can enjoy the OS trouble-free.

macOS Sierra problems – Where's my 'time remaining' message gone?

In 10.12.2 Apple did something odd, it removed the 'Time Remaining' option from the battery indicator on MacBooks. Apparently this was becuase it wasn't very accurate, but it's still annoying nevertheless. There's isn't a way to add in back either, so you're stuck with a simple percentage reading.

macOS Sierra problems – Is my Mac compatible?

Before you can even sample the delights of Apple's new desktop OS, you'll have to make sure you have a compatible Mac. Put simply, your machine needs to be from at least late 2009 or newer and have 2GB of RAM.

To be more specific, the following devices will run Sierra according to Apple:

MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)

MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)

MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)

Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)

iMac (Late 2009 or newer)

Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)

You'll also need to make sure you're running OS X Lion 10.7.5 or later. If you're on anything earlier, you'll need to upgrade to at least Lion before you can then upgrade to Sierra.

macOS Sierra problems – Downloading slowly

Last year, some Mac users despaired after trying to install the then new El Capitan OS only to find it got stuck on a 'paused' error.

And while there hasn't yet been any widespread reports of the same happening with Sierra, there's a chance you might run into the same issue this time around. Even if the download works ok, you may accidentally pull the power plug and run out of battery power, interrupting the installation process.

Related: macOS system requirements

macOS Sierra

In which case, there's a few things you can try to get things moving again. Firstly, if you were simply downloading the update and your computer shuts off, you should be able to just go back into the App Store and pick up where you left off.

If the download gets stuck and won't move past a certain point, however, try restarting it by deleting the partly downloaded macOS Sierra file from the Applications folder. You can then restart the Mac and start the download again.

If that doesn't do the trick, close the App Store, open Terminal, and type the following in the command line prompt:

defaults write com.apple.appstore ShowDebugMenu -boot true ; killall AppStore ; exit

Next, open Finder and from the menu bar, click Go > Go To Folder and type in ~/Library/Preferences/. From here, delete these two items: com.apple.appstore.plist and com.apple.installer.plist.

macOS Sierra problems – Installation problems

We recommend backing everything up before you start installation of the new OS. Once you've done that though, you might find the installation gets stuck part way through.

The simple answer is to wait a while. That's because the progress bar for an iOS update isn't always the most reliable, and sometimes the installation can take a long time to complete. You can get more information on the installation by pressing Command and 'L'.

Related: How to download and install macOS Sierra today

macos sierra

You should also try to free up as much space as possible on your hard drive before installing the update, as anything less than 10GB remaining will make the installation process slow down.

If, however, you've waited a while (say, overnight) and the progress bar hasn't moved at all, you might want to try the following:

Press Command and 'L' to see what's happening. If no files are being installed, hold down your Mac's power button until it turns off. Next, turn the Mac back on and wait to see if the progress bar moves again.

Related: iPhone 7


Failing that, try restarting the Mac and holding Command, Option, P, and R to reset the NVRAM. Once the device restarts, check to see if the update progresses.

If all that fails, turn off the Mac and when turning it back on, hold down Command and 'R' to enter Recovery Mode and start the installation again.

macOS Sierra problems – iTunes not working

Apple recently released an updated version of iTunes (12.5.1) which came with a few design tweaks and support for macOS Sierra. As such, you may find if you haven't updated to the latest version, the music software won't work properly for you.

Siera iTunes

All you have to do is either check the App Store for an update, or go into iTunes and click on iTunes in the menu bar, then on 'Check for Updates'. Now, just follow the on-screen instructions to install the latest version.

macOS Sierra problems – Apps don't work

With any new operating system you can bet there'll be some issues with apps functioning properly on the new software. You might get a message popping up telling you an app can't be opened, or you may just experience buggy usage.

Either way, you can try a few things to get apps working again. Firstly, try updating the app you're trying to use. The process varies from app to app, but you should be able to find the update option in the menu bar, or find the app using the App Store and check for updates that way.

MacBook Pro

If that doesn't work, you can try uninstalling the app completely, then reinstalling it. It's the app equivalent of turning something on and off again, and could be the answer to your woes.

Failing the above, it could be that you'll simply have to wait for the developers to release a new version of the app in question with support for Sierra. In which case, it's unfortunately a case of waiting.

macOS Sierra problems – Running slowly

macOS Sierra should provide speedy performance, but if you're experiencing slowdown during use there's a few fixes that might remedy things.

The first thing to do is simply restart the Mac, but if that doesn't work, you may need to clear out your device's storage. If you've crammed the hard drive full of files, you're guaranteed to notice reduced performance, so make sure you're not running with anything less than 10GB.

macbook 19

If things are still running slowly, you might consider upgrading the RAM in your machine. Before you go spending money, however, go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. In Activity Monitor, check the memory pressure gauge at the bottom of the interface. If it's constantly creeping into the red, it's probably worth upgrading the RAM.

Apple has a guide to adding more RAM here.

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Have you downloaded macOS Sierra? Let us know if you've encountered any problems in the comments.


September 20, 2016, 9:24 pm

I have a mid2010 mbp and the app store lets me d/load Sierra but not install it?

Craig Lonie

September 20, 2016, 10:53 pm

your lucky mines is running so slow I wouldn't bother till they sort this its torture


September 20, 2016, 10:58 pm

Imac updated no problem. My mbp gave me issues. I had to sign out the app store. Then back in and 'check for unfinished downloads' it then showed up in my applications.

Michael J Kormendy

September 21, 2016, 12:15 am

This is the lamest list ever. Click-bait.


September 21, 2016, 6:47 am

Sorry, this article isn't useful.


September 21, 2016, 2:56 pm

I installed Mac OS Sierra but none of the new features work. Siri doesn't do anything. It just typed out what I asked her and doesn't do anything. I can't unlock the Mac with my Apple Watch after setting up and turned on Two-Factor Authentication. There was an option to check a box allowing my Apple Watch to unlock Mac but it's no longer there.

Thomas smith

September 21, 2016, 5:51 pm

I downloaded with no known problem, but then ask why. It's a big ho hum useless.


September 22, 2016, 2:57 am

I'm having an issue with the download going at a good speed with an approx finish time of 30 mins but once it reaches 380 MB downloaded it stalls and it estimates the time for the download to finish at 2 days. After a while of it stalling it'll eventually say error downloading and that I can try again from the purchase section. Been going at it for a while now with no solution yet.


September 27, 2016, 11:44 am

Can any1 help!!!! i wasn't prepared for the installation when i downloaded it i opened it and then it restarted and i clicked the mac os sierra installer and then i clicked agree and agree then it says choose a disk ................. <---- (i can't remember) and the Macintosh HD disk said this disk is locked HOW DO I UNLOCK IT???!!!!!?!?!?!?!


September 27, 2016, 2:25 pm

Why won't siri work?


October 2, 2016, 11:57 pm

Here's how to fix all the issues on Sierra: head to the nearest Microsoft store...


October 3, 2016, 6:34 am

Everyone wants the newest upgrade, We all want to be pressing keys, talking to our computer and getting in a "chat" about this or that new Apple innovation. Apple pre-programs their marketing to feed what at times becomes an hysterical devotion to "gadgetry; Jobs is dead.
REMEMBER, this ain't the olden days... what this is is a "come on" (so to speak) in a boutique driven economy. Unless your a real die hard with real die har talent IT'S JUST BEST TO SIMPLY WAIT UNTIL THE KINKS. BUGS & FLUBS ARE WORKED THROUGH.
REMEMBER, you did the same thing with your LAST upgrade; eventually you gotta learn not to get them panties in a wad! You will undoubtedly get impatient, forget the steps you did, start re-booting, try to re-download, have your plug fall out start going into utilities and do something crazy like partitioning and wind up throwing your very pretty "pink-gold" Air into the air.
Just wait. This way you can listen to all your friends who did not wait moan, while you sit back and tell them they should have just chilled until the wobbles were wired out. You'll seem like an expert and you may even get laid in the process for being such a smart guy/girl/whatever.
Doesn't a nice cold drink sound better?
If you have already tried to upgrade and you are left with a slow, non-application opening, iTune cracking computer, follow the easy to do (easier then the download) instructions to get that mess off & out of your life...for now. I've seen it working in full swag (at the Apple Boutique!) and you'll dig it IF YOU JUST WAIT. No need to be the one who always wants to open holiday presents before the assigned day; by the way HAVE A GOOD DAY!!

Dag Nabbit

October 4, 2016, 9:43 pm

I just want to know if Peggle will run on Sierra. Gotta have my Peggle.


October 5, 2016, 5:58 pm

SIRI does not hear me. I've tried all possible settings for sound and still she turns on and asks me what I want but cannot hear me.


October 5, 2016, 5:59 pm

Because Apple is retarded. :(

Jacek Olczyk

October 6, 2016, 10:45 am

Safari, App Store, iCloud and iTunes doesn't work. Seems that tose apps has no conection with internet... any suggestions? please help me


October 6, 2016, 5:23 pm

My macbook pro has been slow since the update. I am getting the spinning colored wheel constantly, for the most basic tasks. I have plenty of harddrive space & my memory is at its max (4 gb for this late 2011 model). I also have an issue of the mouse pointer flickering LARGER for a split second sometimes - weird! This update has made everything glitchy.

Terry Parle

October 11, 2016, 9:49 am

My ports have ceased working. Any suggestions on a fix? I've tried rebooting.

Mark Pridgen

October 30, 2016, 11:48 pm

My keyboard is no longer backlit; my fan runs constantly and I can no longer run Windows 10 on my Bootcamp partition. WTH?!?

Chris Miglorino

November 1, 2016, 6:40 pm

I hear you, I didn't want to upgrade my OS because I knew something wouldn't work right (that came true). However when Apple won't let you upgrade anything because you don't have the latest OS then there's not much of a choice. I'm having the same issue with my iPhone where I can't download any new apps because I have an out of date iOS, but I have an iPhone 4 that might not be able to handle the new iOS. Really scummy what they're doing. Now my Macbook Pro barely runs.


November 2, 2016, 5:47 am

I downloaded OS Sierra on my iMac.After this whenever I start my Mac Fans start working on full bloom.What is the reason and how to rectify this problem'

Outlaw Josie Wales

November 3, 2016, 12:35 am

The above article is shite. Follow these instructions and no one gets hurt.

Reset the SMC. Shut your mac down. Remove the power plug. Hold down the power button for 5 seconds. Reboot as normal.

Reset your NVRAM (erase your non-volatile RAM). To do this restart your computer and immediately hold down the OPTION, COMMAND, P, R keys at the same time. You will hear the start up chime. Continue holding those 4 keys down and you will hear another *wimpier" start up chime. After hearing the second chime, release the keys and let the startup continue.

By resetting the SMC, and erasing your NVRAM you will likely resolve most of these problems below.


Γιάννης Καραγιάννης

November 24, 2016, 3:18 pm

After updating to macOS Sierra, my keyboard lights are not coming to the desired brightness level that I choose, but they are closed, after restart. If I hit f5 or f6 the keyboard lights come to my choosen brightness.

Jarod Cumner

December 17, 2016, 11:39 am

hey i was wondering if you had finally been able to fix this issue :( I'm having the same problem now.. sorry that this wasn't an answer to your problem if you haven't even able to fix it


December 19, 2016, 7:45 pm

I had reset the NVRAM numerous times, repaired disk, waved a dead chicken overhead, the works. Then followed your SMC advice and it seems that has fixed me. Thanks

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