Reported problems in macOS Sierra: an incomplete list

This is a list of bad features, poor interface design, problems with third-party apps, etc. Known bugs in Sierra 10.12.3 are listed in this article.

Dropbox has issues which can result in data loss

I have explained the problems with Dropbox in my latest article here. If you use Dropbox and Sierra, I recommend that you read that carefully, and Dropbox’s own information here.

The simplest way to avoid problems is to ensure that you only sync documents using Dropbox, or iCloud, but not both. If you want to use both, then ensure that you use the latest version of Dropbox, that its dropbox has the default name of Dropbox, and that you do not move Dropbox to your Desktop or Documents folders. Even then there are other troublesome bugs which can rarely result in data loss.

Remaining problems detailed by Dropbox include the replacement of screenshots taken while Dropbox isn’t running, by .icloud placeholder files, and possible data loss when using symlinks in your Dropbox which point to the Documents folder or Desktop. Dropbox recommends that you do not use symlinks in your Dropbox under any circumstances, as they can lead to data loss even if you get everything else right. Full details are here.

iCloud starts taking files away from your Mac – ‘cloudsteal’

A few users are reporting that large numbers of the files on their Mac start being moved (not copied) to iCloud, and they are unable to stop this. This appears most likely when:

  • You have enabled Desktop and Documents Folders, in Documents, in iCloud Drive Options… in the iCloud pane, and enabled Optimize Mac Storage.
  • You have a lot of files on your Desktop.
  • You have relatively little free space on your startup drive.

This is most worrying when you have a high bandwidth internet connection, as documents can start vanishing off to iCloud at an alarming rate. If this happens to you, those documents should not be lost, ‘merely’ stored on your iCloud Drive. The problem is bringing them back – something that Apple doesn’t provide a tool for (yet). If you only have the standard bundled iCloud storage space of 5 GB, it should also be blocked, as that storage fills up. However some users report that there are no warnings or checks shown.

For the moment, until cloudsteal is better understood, keep an eye on your iCloud storage usage level, and ensure that you have updated to the latest release of Sierra.

If this starts happening to you, my advice is to save all open documents, quit apps, and restart, but then leave your Mac at the login screen. That should prevent any further cloudsteal, and give you time to call Apple Support, who are best able to sort the situation out in safety, without any data loss. It also ensures that Apple knows of the problem and its frequency of occurrence.

DisplayLink products

There’s a long list of problems which have been found when trying to use DisplayLink products with Macs running macOS Sierra here. For the time being, I think the best summary is ‘incompatible’, although it is not yet clear whether 10.12.3 may resolve any of those.

Time Machine backups to NAS fail – largely resolved at last

Many of those using Synology and other NAS systems for Time Machine backups have been experiencing problems. This include difficulty in keeping the NAS mounted on the Mac, and repeated errors in trying to back up.

There is no single solution: those using Synology products might like to browse this thread in the Synology Community Forum. Some problems appear to relate to Sophos anti-virus, others to setting such as using SMB. Some users report that problems resolve when using DSM 6.0.2-8451 Update 1, although others are using older versions with success.

If you are having similar problems with your NAS, first ensure that its software is fully up to date, and that you are running macOS 10.12.2. If that still doesn’t help, contact the NAS support desk and raise the matter with them.

Multiple Canon products – largely resolved at last

Sierra 10.12.1 came with drivers to support the great majority of Canon printers, scanners, and other peripherals. Canon advises all those using its peripherals to ensure that they update to 10.12.1 or later, as there are remaining issues with 10.12.0.

Four Canon software products are still not fully compatible with Sierra: Camera Window DC, EOS Utility 2 and 3, and Map Utility. These should be updated during December 2016 and January 2017. Full details are given here.

File Open and Save dialogs won’t work with pointer (Office 2011 and others)

Trying to navigate the dialogs used to open and save documents using a trackpad/mouse and pointer can prove impossible in many older apps, including Microsoft Office 2011. You can still use the pointer to operate the buttons and other devices, but it may not select items in the inner file browser. macOS Sierra 10.12.2 does improve these issues, but you may still occasionally resort to using the cursor keys.

The workaround is to use the cursor keys instead. Although kludgy, they should still give you full access to the folders and files within the dialog.

File Open and Save dialogs don’t access iCloud Drive and other favourites (Office 2011 and others)

In the standard dialogs used to open and save documents, the list of items under Favourites may not include new locations such as iCloud Drive. To give access to a folder on your iCloud Drive from those apps, create an alias to it and move that alias into your Documents folder, as described here for Office 2011.

Once you have accessed documents on your iCloud Drive from an older app, it may then decide to add iCloud Drive to its Favourites. This may also be addressed by Sierra 10.12.2.

Crashes in Microsoft Office 2016 apps – mostly resolved

Microsoft acknowledges that some users experience crashes in the various apps of Microsoft Office 2016. These should resolve following updating to Sierra 10.12.2. It also helps if you can turn off (uncheck) Auto Proxy Discovery and Automatic Proxy Configuration in the Proxies pane of your current Network configuration. Details are here.

If your Mac requires that Auto Proxy Discovery and/or Automatic Proxy Configuration are turned on, you must update to Sierra 10.12.2, and even then it seems possible that infrequent crashes might occur, although much less likely.

Adobe CC – now almost completely compatible and fully supported

Printing from Photoshop can result in Photoshop unexpectedly quitting when still running Sierra 10.12.0. Adobe recommends updating to Sierra 10.12.1 or later, and to Photoshop CC 2017, which resolves almost all remaining issues. Full details are here.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom version 6.8 is now almost entirely compatible with Sierra, with just one minor issue remaining. Further details are here.

Adobe Drive versions 5.0.3 and earlier fail to install on Sierra, and advice to download the Adobe Support Advisor also fails, as Adobe has discontinued that tool. Adobe’s suggested workaround is to not upgrade to Sierra, which is hardly helpful if you already have done that. Details are here.

Adobe has now apparently declared that “the latest versions of all Creative Cloud products” are now compatible with macOS Sierra, and fully support Sierra. Its statement is here.

(Thanks to Simon Simpson for this.)

Fujitsu ScanSnap incompatibility – fully resolved

Users of ScanSnap devices now have full Sierra support, with a list of updates available here. There are also fixes in Sierra 10.12.1 and later, which should make ScanSnap use fully robust again. These now include dealing properly with existing ScanSnap documents – please read Fujitsu’s advice carefully to ensure that yours are properly safeguarded in Sierra.

Adobe CS6 and earlier

Many users are reporting success in running component apps from Adobe CS6 and earlier, even back to CS3 in some cases. However, if you do not install Apple’s legacy Java package from here, some or all the apps may not run at all. Modern Oracle Java does not work for this purpose, but it appears that Apple’s old installer still does. Not that if you had this installed before upgrading to Sierra, you will probably need to reinstall it afterwards.

Koingo’s MacPilot and MacCleanse – fixed

Koingo has released an updated version of MacPilot 8 which is compatible with Sierra, and will be releasing version 9 soon, with full support for Sierra’s new features. MacCleanse 5 has full support for Sierra, and is available here.

Slow Wi-Fi

Cydia Geeks report that they have experienced slow Wi-Fi connections after upgrading to Sierra: it is worth reading their clear and instructive article here. If affected, moving the relevant settings files from /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ and restarting should clear the problem. The files are: com.apple.airport.preferences.plist, com.apple.network.identification.plist, com.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plist, NetworkInterfaces.plist, and preferences.plist.

This is a generic solution for some WiFi problems, and often worth trying in similar circumstances.

(Thanks to @cydiageeks)

PPTP VPN no longer supported

Buried in the fine print is the news that Sierra no longer supports PPTP VPN. If you cannot switch to a better protocol, such as one based on IPSec or an SSL client, Apple recommends using one of the clients available on the App Store, such as Aruba, Open VPN, etc. There are others too, such as Shimo.

(Thanks to Mark Anderson for drawing my attention to this.)

Tiling of solid colour areas in browsers – fixed

Some browsers, notably Chrome and Opera, display areas of what should be a single colour in tiles of slightly different colour. This is not Sierra or your Mac at fault, but is a known issue in their rendering engine, as detailed here. Try a different browser, such as Safari or Firefox.

This appears to have been fixed in Opera 41.0, and I expect in the corresponding version of Chrome.

Problems updating iWork apps after upgrading

Some users report that you need to update from the Purchased page in the App Store app, on some Macs.

Various licensing systems

Some software licensing systems, including previous versions of the nodelocked scheme for Silhouette, stop working in Sierra. Vendors should be providing updates which fix this: for Silhouette, it requires upgrading to version 5, for example.

Updated 24 January 2017.