Is it time to update OSX?

I have a six year old Macbook Pro that still has OSX 10.6.8 on it. It ain’t broke for me, so I haven’t been wanting to fix it — especially since I have a PowerPC version of Microsoft Office that wouldn’t work anymore if I updated to the latest OS.

However, as anyone in the computing world knows, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with patches and stuff because of the evolution of the OS. According to Firefox, QuickTime and Java RunTime Environment should be updated, but I can’t; the former does so through Software Updater, and it shows no updates, and the latter’s latest version is only for 10.7 or higher.

So I’m once again thinking of biting the bullet and upgrading to Yosemite. It’d be a bother to relearn certain stuff and adjusting certain stuff to my liking, but I think I could take it. The main obstacle is Office, and I could just use Pages as a stopgap (because who knows how long the .docs I create with this old version of Office will be readable).

What should I think about when making this decision?

Go for it, I run Yosemite on some older hardware and its fine. And really there is not much need for Microsoft office nowadays. I use pages numbers and OpenOffice and never have an issue reading docx files.

Of course there’s going to be some of that whole “this stuff is new, why’d they change this?”, but overall, I think it’s best to stay on top of updates, and really, what do you have to lose?

double check that your system can even run the latest. I have a (similarly aged) Mac Mini which can’t go past 10.7.

Are you sure you need Java (not to be confused with JavaScript)? If not, just trash it and that security concern will disappear with the plugin. I dumped it with Snow Leopard (may have been Leopard).

Java’s reputation for security tanked long ago, and precious few sites need it anymore.

When I upgraded to Mavericks, it was because so many other things were nagging me about not having the latest version of the OS. Those things are no longer nagging me. But so far as I can tell, that’s the only positive effect of the upgrade. A large number of programs, including several I would have preferred to keep using, stopped working, some things were changed with no means given for changing them back, and some things were uninstalled for no good reason.

Jeez. What were they?

From 10.6 to 10.7 is a big step, and then there’s three smaller ones after that. I wouldn’t recommend staying on 10.7, or anything before 10.10, really: make the decision between staying on 10.6.8 and getting (and staying) current at 10.10.3.

Yes, there’s the nagging, but if you’ve been able to stand that for five years, there’s a lot to be said for sticking with what works and ignore updates. Yes, there are some security issues, but as 10.6 is getting older and older, that’s becoming somewhat less of an issue.

One good thing about 10.10 is that it has memory compression, so you’ll get some advantages on a system with less memory. On the other hand, apps keep bloating so whether this will translate into a real-world advantage remains to be seen.

I’d say: try out 10.10 and see if you like it, either by using someone else’s computer for a bit or installing 10.10 on an external drive. Then make your decision.

Do you have the Snow Leopard install disc? If so, you can get an external drive and install 10.6 on that, so that if you need to use 10.6, you can plug in the external and boot from it. If you lack the install disc, get a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner and copy your current drive over to the external. Then you will be able to do the upgrade and still be able to use 10.6 if you need to.

I would skip 10.7 and go to 10.8
Lion was half-baked, and there’s essentially nothing that Lion could do that Mountain Lion couldn’t do better.

The big issue in making the jump from 10.6 is losing all PPC apps - It’s worth taking a look in System Profiler and seeing if there are any apps you depend on that are PPC.

If those two are your only issue, I would not suggest upgrading just for that. Java is uncommon online, and the version of Quicktime you have is the latest 32-bit version, and the 64-bit version is intentionally crippled to only work with h264.

And, anyways, the way Firefox works, it will block those plugins until you click to activate them. So just don’t activate them except on sites that you trust.

There are reasons to upgrade, but those aren’t good ones on their own.

(I say this as someone who never used a post-PowerPC G5 Mac, so I don’t know what the other reasons are to upgrade. I just know about Java and Quicktime.)

Well, it was also a general reminder that my current setup won’t be supported forever.

Are there any advantages I don’t know of?

I do have the original OS install disks and an external HD that I use for backups, as well as, I was just reminded, a way to get Office for pretty cheap.

My iMac is early 2008, so it’s older than yours, and I’m running Yosemite. The system’s running faster than it did with Mavericks. I had to add delays to some AppleScripts because they ran so fast they skipped steps and stalled.

The machine’s a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of RAM.

Replace Microsoft Office with the free open-source replacement, Open Office which is free for the Mac, Windows and Linux. I use Open Office all the time, and it works great. I’ve not used Microsoft Office products in many years and don’t miss them.

Do a full backup before you do anything, so you can restore to it if you don’t like it or run into a problem. Download the free version for the Mac of SuperDuper! and use it to do a full-backup of your current system.

After you do the upgrade, get it a week, and if you don’t like it, you can restore the backup and return to the previous thing you were using like you never changed it, because SuperDuper! is that good. But I don’t think you will want to do that, because the latest version is great to use. I could list new features, but the true is you might not even use many of those features or care about them. So this would be a non-penalty way to kick the tires and see if you like it.

Oh, and Open Office can open Microsoft Office files too.

The only disadvantage there might be, is if you have some specialize piece of software that must work on the older platform. But you would have to decided if that’s the case, because the author of it might also have an update that works fine in the latest. Or it might be time to find something new. Like for programming code editing, I use Smultron and I think it’s great because I was able to buy it for like $5.00 from the Apple App Store thingy and I know the software is safe and it knows when there is an update and alerts me. Another nice feature with the latest Mac OS.

I’ve never really found much practical difference between versions over the years. I suppose that’s due to small and subtle changes over many successive versions, but it’s definitely still distinctly “OSX.”

The biggest differences in the latest versions, for me, have been the reversal of scrolling (Mavericks, I think?), which you can easily switch back (I did), and the change from “Spaces” to “Mission Control.” The latter is really just a change in arrangement (all your Spaces are now in a single line), but I miss the ability to assign apps to a specific Space.

Actually, you can still do this (assign apps to a specific Space), but I still miss being able to arrange them in a grid.

FYI, I decided to upgrade. So far, so good; I have options to access everything I had before, and the memory usage is great (though that may be because I restarted this laptop for the first time in forever, having just put it to sleep instead of shutting it down for months).

Open Office/Libreoffice is a sad, sad joke compared to Microsoft Office.

I’m sticking with 10.6.8 myself until I absolutely can’t. I have 10.10 and 10.9 in virtual machines which gives me flexibility and options.