What’s really in the High Sierra 10.13.1 update

There was a great deal in the High Sierra 10.13.1 update, far more than Apple let on in its usual terse release notes.

When run, it has the payload to install nearly 40,000 items amounting to around 4.5 GB storage space. However, it also seems to have been something of a Combo updater, in that it includes the contents of the ‘Supplemental Update’ which Apple provided on 5 October. So if you didn’t install that on your High Sierra system, you should be able to apply the 10.13.1 update directly to it.

Because of its size and comprehensiveness, the 10.13.1 update can also be used as Combo update to try to fix problems with High Sierra; an alternative would be to download and use the full High Sierra 10.13.1 installer from the App Store.

Here’s a list of the most significant changes in 10.13.1 compared with 10.13 with the Supplemental Update installed:

  • Mail.app is updated to version 11.1 (3445.4.7)
  • Safari.app is updated to version 11.0.1 (13604.3.5)
  • iBooks.app is updated to version 1.12 (1453)
  • Messages.app is updated to version 11.0 (69)
  • Photos.app is updated to version 3.0 (3231.11.210)
  • Disk Utility.app is updated to version 17.0 (337)
  • VoiceOver Utility.app is updated to version 8 (562.1.3)
  • Software Update is updated to version 6 (1068.9)
  • APFS is updated throughout, to version 748.21.6
  • Many frameworks have been updated, including AppKit, Cocoa, GameKit, SafariServices, and security frameworks
  • The App Store, StartupDisk, TouchID and Wallet preference panes are updated
  • Many private frameworks are updated, including many Swift ones
  • Braille ScreenReader has been updated
  • Among the many command tools updated are configd, disktool, diskutil, hidutil, launchctl, launchd, logd, mdutil, smbutil, and sysdiagnose.

In addition to enhancing Braille support, there are quite a few language localisation improvements, including a new Gurmukhi MN (Sikh) font, and an updated Vietnamese Input Method. Then there are the additional emoji, which are included in an expanded version of the Apple Color Emoji font. That is in the /System/Library/Fonts folder, which is protected by SIP. Even if the new emojis were to work in Sierra, installing that font is extremely difficult as a result.

I have already noted an important change which Apple has introduced with the 10.13.1 installer: if it is installed on a Mac which has started up in High Sierra from an APFS volume, the installer automatically makes an APFS snapshot before starting the installation. This means that, if anything goes wrong with the update, all you have to do to revert to the previous state is:

  1. Restart into local Recovery mode (Command-R using a wired keyboard during startup).
  2. In the opening screen, select the top item, Restore from Time Machine Backup, and click on Continue.
  3. Continue through the screens. When asked to Select a Restore Source, select the startup drive.
  4. When asked to Select a Local Snapshot, select that made at the start of the backup, by its date and time.
  5. Confirm and continue through the screens until it completes. Your Mac will then restart automatically, following which you should be informed of its success.

Note that this does not apply if you updated a startup volume which is in HFS+ format, as that does not support such snapshots. This should now be a standard feature of all updates and installs which require a restart, i.e. macOS updates.

This update also brings with it a good range of recent firmware updates. These include updates to Apple SSD firmware, EFI firmware, SMC, and USB C firmware. I don’t think that any of these are new, and they will only be applied to your Mac if they are required. In almost every case, they should already have been installed, where necessary, during the initial High Sierra upgrade.