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macOS Sierra Q&A - Updated September 20, 2016

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Which Macs are compatible with macOS Sierra (10.12)? What are the system requirements? Which Macs support which features?

On June 13, 2016, Apple previewed macOS Sierra. It was available as a "public beta" starting on July 7, 2016, and released in its final version on September 20, 2016. It is a free release and only available officially via Apple's own App Store.

The Many Names of Mac OS

"macOS" Sierra introduces a new naming convention that represents a full circle rebranding of the Mac operating system.

From Mac OS -- Mac OS 7.6 through Mac OS 9, (although Mac clones running System 7.5.x also would display Mac OS on the splash screen) -- to Mac OS X -- Mac OS X 10.0 "Cheetah" through Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" -- to OS X -- as the company started using with OS X Lion -- and now back to "macOS" but lower case and a single word to be more in sync with Apple's three other OS X-based operating systems -- iOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

macOS Sierra is the twelfth version of Mac OS X/OS X, so it is reasonable to refer to it as Mac OS X 10.12 or OS X 12, as well.

macOS Sierra (10.12) -- based on the desktop photo -- presumably is named after the Sierra Nevada mountain range in keeping with Apple's recent theme of naming its Mac operating systems after attractive locations in California -- Mavericks (10.9), Yosemite (10.10), and El Capitan (10.11).

New macOS Sierra Features

In the company original press release, Apple boasted that macOS Sierra is "a major update to the world's most advanced desktop operating system" and more specifically noted:

Siri is now on the Mac with brand-new capabilities to help with the things users do every day on their desktop. With Siri, users can look up information, find documents, pin or drag and drop search results, and even adjust system preferences. Seamless integration with iCloud makes everything from your Desktop and Documents folder available on your iPhone and iPad so you always have access to the files you need. Universal Clipboard allows you to copy content, including text, images, photos and video from one Apple device and paste it in another. Apple Pay comes to the Mac in Sierra so it is even easier to shop securely and privately online. And Photos now helps you rediscover your meaningful memories, organize your library and perfect shots like a pro.

macOS Sierra, Mac OS X 10.12, Retina MacBook
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (MacBook Running macOS Sierra)

System Requirements

In Apple's WWDC 2016 presentation, the company noted that macOS Sierra runs on the following Mac categories:

As first noted by the well-respected hacker netkas, the macOS interface itself (the GUI) now runs "on top of" Apple's "Metal" graphics technology introduced by OS X El Capitan rather than OpenGL, as well.

It is worth noting that macOS Sierra does abandon a good number of systems that were supported by the previous version of the Mac operating system, OS X El Capitan. Specific feature support also varies.

In addition to being one of the categories of Mac listed above, it also needs to be running OS X 10.7.5 or higher prior to installation and have 2 GB of memory installed as well as 8.8 GB of available storage.

Identification Help

If you're not sure if your Mac will run macOS Sierra, all of the supported systems can be identified by the above "subfamily" designations as well as by the Model Identifier in software. More details about specific identifiers are provided in EveryMac.com's extensive Mac Identification section.

To locate the model identifier, select "About This Mac" under the Apple Menu on your computer and click the "More Info..." button. If the Mac is running OS X "Lion" (10.7) or later, click the "System Report" button after clicking "More Info..." as well.

EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- also can identify these models by their Serial Numbers.

macOS Sierra Supported Systems

Specifically, the following Macs are compatible with the macOS Sierra. However, just because a Mac runs macos Sierra does not mean that it is compatible with all features.

Supported Mac

Subfamily

Model ID

iMac "Core 2 Duo" 3.06 21.5"

Late 2009

iMac10,1

iMac "Core 2 Duo" 3.33 21.5"

Late 2009

iMac10,1

iMac "Core 2 Duo" 3.06 27"

Late 2009

iMac10,1

iMac "Core 2 Duo" 3.33 27"

Late 2009

iMac10,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.66 27"

Late 2009

iMac11,1

iMac "Core i7" 2.8 27"

Late 2009

iMac11,1

iMac "Core i3" 3.06 21.5"

Mid-2010

iMac11,2

iMac "Core i3" 3.2 21.5"

Mid-2010

iMac11,2

iMac "Core i5" 3.6 21.5"

Mid-2010

iMac11,2

iMac "Core i3" 3.2 27"

Mid-2010

iMac11,3

iMac "Core i5" 2.8 27"

Mid-2010

iMac11,3

iMac "Core i5" 3.6 27"

Mid-2010

iMac11,3

iMac "Core i7" 2.93 27"

Mid-2010

iMac11,3

iMac "Core i5" 2.5 21.5"

Mid-2011

iMac12,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.7 21.5"

Mid-2011

iMac12,1

iMac "Core i7" 2.8 21.5"

Mid-2011

iMac12,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.7 27"

Mid-2011

iMac12,2

iMac "Core i5" 3.1 27"

Mid-2011

iMac12,2

iMac "Core i7" 3.4 27"

Mid-2011

iMac12,2

iMac "Core i3" 3.1 21.5"

Late 2011

iMac12,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.7 21.5"

Late 2012

iMac13,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.9 21.5"

Late 2012

iMac13,1

iMac "Core i7" 3.1 21.5"

Late 2012

iMac13,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.9 27"

Late 2012

iMac13,2

iMac "Core i5" 3.2 27"

Late 2012

iMac13,2

iMac "Core i7" 3.4 27"

Late 2012

iMac13,2

iMac "Core i3" 3.3 21.5"

Early 2013

iMac13,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.7 21.5"

Late 2013

iMac14,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.9 21.5"

Late 2013

iMac14,3

iMac "Core i7" 3.1 21.5"

Late 2013

iMac14,3

iMac "Core i5" 3.2 27"

Late 2013

iMac14,2

iMac "Core i5" 3.4 27"

Late 2013

iMac14,2

iMac "Core i7" 3.5 27"

Late 2013

iMac14,2

iMac "Core i5" 1.4 21.5"

Mid-2014

iMac14,4

iMac "Core i5" 3.5 27"

Late 2014

iMac15,1

iMac "Core i7" 4.0 27"

Late 2014

iMac15,1

iMac "Core i5" 3.3 27"

Mid-2015

iMac15,1

iMac "Core i5" 1.6 21.5"

Late 2015

iMac16,1

iMac "Core i5" 2.8 21.5"

Late 2015

iMac16,2

iMac "Core i5" 3.1 21.5"

Late 2015

iMac16,2

iMac "Core i7" 3.3 21.5"

Late 2015

iMac16,2

iMac "Core i5" 3.2 27"

Late 2015

iMac17,1

iMac "Core i5" 3.3 27"

Late 2015

iMac17,1

iMac "Core i7" 4.0 27"

Late 2015

iMac17,1

MacBook "Core 2 Duo" 2.26 13"

Late 2009

MacBook6,1

MacBook "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13"

Mid-2010

MacBook7,1

MacBook "Core M" 1.1 12"

Early 2015

MacBook8,1

MacBook "Core M" 1.2 12"

Early 2015

MacBook8,1

MacBook "Core M" 1.3 12"

Early 2015

MacBook8,1

MacBook "Core m3" 1.1 12"

Early 2016

MacBook9,1

MacBook "Core m5" 1.2 12"

Early 2016

MacBook9,1

MacBook "Core m7" 1.3 12"

Early 2016

MacBook9,1

MacBook Air "Core 2 Duo" 1.4 11"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,1

MacBook Air "Core 2 Duo" 1.6 11"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,1

MacBook Air "Core 2 Duo" 1.86 13"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,2

MacBook Air "Core 2 Duo" 2.13 13"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,2

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.6 11"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,1

MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.8 11"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,1

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.7 13"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,2

MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.8 13"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,2

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.6 13"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,2

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.7 11"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,1

MacBook Air "Core i7" 2.0 11"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,1

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.7 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,2

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.8 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,2

MacBook Air "Core i7" 2.0 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,2

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.3 11"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,1

MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.7 11"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,1

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.3 13"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,2

MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.7 13"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,2

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.4 11"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,1

MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.7 11"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,1

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.4 13"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,2

MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.7 13"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,2

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.6 11"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,1

MacBook Air "Core i7" 2.2 11"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,1

MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.6 13"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,2

MacBook Air "Core i7" 2.2 13"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,2

MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro7,1

MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.66 13"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro7,1

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.4 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.53 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.66 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.53 17"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.66 17"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 17"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.3 13"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.7 13"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.0 15"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.2 15"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 15"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.2 17"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,3

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 17"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,3

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.4 13"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 13"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.2 15"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.4 15"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.5 15"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.4 17"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,3

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.5 17"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,3

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.5 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.9 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.6 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.7 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro10,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.6 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro10,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.7 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro10,1

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.5 13"

Late 2012

MacBookPro10,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.9 13"

Late 2012

MacBookPro10,2

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.6 13"

Early 2013

MacBookPro10,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 3.0 13"

Early 2013

MacBookPro10,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.4 15"

Early 2013

MacBookPro10,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.7 15"

Early 2013

MacBookPro10,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 15"

Early 2013

MacBookPro10,1

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.4 13"

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,1

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.6 13"

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 13"

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.0 15" (IG)

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 15" (IG)

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.6 15" (IG)

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 15" (DG)

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,3

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.6 15" (DG)

Late 2013

MacBookPro11,3

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.6 13"

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,1

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.8 13"

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 3.0 13"

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.2 15" (IG)

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.5 15" (IG)

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 15" (IG)

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,2

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.5 15" (DG)

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,3

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 15" (DG)

Mid-2014

MacBookPro11,3

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.7 13"

Early 2015

MacBookPro12,1

MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.9 13"

Early 2015

MacBookPro12,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 3.1 13"

Early 2015

MacBookPro12,1

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.2 15" (IG)

Mid-2015

MacBookPro11,4

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.5 15" (IG)

Mid-2015

MacBookPro11,4

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 15" (IG)

Mid-2015

MacBookPro11,4

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.5 15" (DG)

Mid-2015

MacBookPro11,5

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.8 15" (DG)

Mid-2015

MacBookPro11,5

Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" 2.4

Mid-2010

Macmini4,1

Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" 2.66

Mid-2010

Macmini4,1

Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" 2.66 (Server)

Mid-2010

Macmini4,1

Mac mini "Core i5" 2.3

Mid-2011

Macmini5,1

Mac mini "Core i5" 2.5

Mid-2011

Macmini5,2

Mac mini "Core i7" 2.7

Mid-2011

Macmini5,2

Mac mini "Core i7" 2.0 (Server)

Mid-2011

Macmini5,3

Mac mini "Core i5" 2.5

Late 2012

Macmini6,1

Mac mini "Core i7" 2.3

Late 2012

Macmini6,2

Mac mini "Core i7" 2.6

Late 2012

Macmini6,2

Mac mini "Core i7" 2.3 (Server)

Late 2012

Macmini6,2

Mac mini "Core i7" 2.6 (Server)

Late 2012

Macmini6,2

Mac mini "Core i5" 1.4

Late 2014

Macmini7,1

Mac mini "Core i5" 2.6

Late 2014

Macmini7,1

Mac mini "Core i5" 2.8

Late 2014

Macmini7,1

Mac mini "Core i7" 3.0

Late 2014

Macmini7,1

Mac Pro "Quad Core" 2.8 (Nehalem)

Mid-2010

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Quad Core" 3.2 (Nehalem)

Mid-2010

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Six Core" 3.33 (Westmere)

Mid-2010

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Eight Core" 2.4 (Westmere)

Mid-2010

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.66 (Westmere)

Mid-2010

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.93 (Westmere)

Mid-2010

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Quad Core" 2.8 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Quad Core" 3.2 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Six Core" 3.33 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Eight Core" 2.4 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.66 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.93 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Quad Core" 3.2 (Nehalem)

Mid-2012

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Six Core" 3.33 (Westmere)

Mid-2012

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.4 (Westmere)

Mid-2012

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.66 (Westmere)

Mid-2012

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 3.06 (Westmere)

Mid-2012

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Quad Core" 3.2 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Six Core" 3.33 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.4 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.66 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 3.06 (Server)

Server

MacPro5,1

Mac Pro "Quad Core" 3.7

Late 2013

MacPro6,1

Mac Pro "Six Core" 3.5

Late 2013

MacPro6,1

Mac Pro "Eight Core" 3.0

Late 2013

MacPro6,1

Mac Pro "Twelve Core" 2.7

Late 2013

MacPro6,1


If your Mac isn't listed above, and it wasn't released after September 20, 2016, it isn't compatible with macOS Sierra.

macOS Sierra Features Compatibility

All of the above Macs support the macOS Sierra operating system, but specific feature support varies. All of these Macs support Siri, desktop and document synchronization across devices, and optimized storage, as well as interface enhancements and new versions of Apple apps.

However, some new features like Universal Clipboard, Auto Unlock (which also requires an Apple Watch runnning watchOS 3 and an iPhone 5 or later), and Apple Pay on the Web do not work on all of these models.

These are the earliest models that support each of these features running macOS Sierra:

 

Universal
Clipboard

Auto Unlock
(Watch/iPhone)

Apple Pay
on the Web

iMac

Late 2012

Late 2013

Late 2012

MacBook

Early 2015

Early 2015

Early 2015

MacBook Air

Mid-2012

Mid-2013

Mid-2012

MacBook Pro

Mid-2012

Late 2013

Mid-2012

Mac mini

Late 2012

Late 2014

Late 2012

Mac Pro

Late 2013

Late 2013

Late 2013


Support for other major features -- Metal, Handoff and Instant Hotspot, AirDrop to iOS, AirDrop Between Macs, AirPlay Mirroring, and Power Nap -- all of which were first introduced with earlier versions of OS X and carry over to macOS Sierra -- also are not supported by all models.

These are the earliest models that support each of these features running macOS Sierra:

 

Metal

Handoff
Instant Hotspot

AirDrop to iOS

AirDrop (Mac-to-Mac)

AirPlay Mirroring

Power Nap

iMac

Late 2012

Late 2012

Late 2012

Early 2009

Mid-2011

Late 2012

MacBook

Early 2015

Early 2015

Early 2015

Late 2008

Early 2015

Early 2015

MacBook Air

Mid-2012

Mid-2012

Mid-2012

Late 2010

Mid-2011

Late 2010

MacBook Pro

Mid-2012

Mid-2012

Mid-2012

Late 2008

Early 2011

Mid-2012 Retina

Mac mini

Late 2012

Late 2012

Late 2012

Mid-2010

Mid-2011

Late 2012

Mac Pro

Late 2013

Late 2013

Late 2013

Early 2009

Late 2013

Late 2013


Compatibility Summary

Ultimately, macOS Sierra brings some welcomed new features like Siri, iCloud integration, Universal Clipboard, and Apple Pay, but as always, it is wise to wait for performance reports and a couple of bug fixes, particularly if your Mac is for mission critical work.


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