Last Week on My Mac: Last of the Mojave

Some time in the next week or two, Apple should release macOS 10.14.6, almost certainly the last version of Mojave we’ll see, and the last macOS to run on the ‘cheesegrater’ Mac Pro. Unless something goes seriously wrong, the next macOS release after that will be Catalina, probably towards the end of September.

This update looks set to be accompanied by an EFI firmware update, perhaps for all supported models. Among other things, that should provide a firm base for the rejigging of volumes required for Catalina’s new read-only system volume, and for its other requirements. It’s easier on users if the first major release doesn’t have to include an EFI firmware update too.

I’m sure that Mac Pro 2010/2012 owners will try to find a way to run Catalina on those wonderful old systems, but officially this is the last version of macOS that will run on those models, some of them due to celebrate their ninth birthday in July. Although their users will point at their low entry price of just under $/€/£ 2000, the better variants were twice that price, plus the cost of a Metal-capable graphics card, additional memory and storage. Apple has always been a premium brand, but they must have repaid their cost many times over during that period.

Mojave still has a fair share of bugs which need to be fixed. I don’t know what impact 10.14.6 will have on the list that I maintain here, but it would be good to see some of the more severe items at the top being finally knocked on the head.

However, I’ll surprised if Apple comes up with a better way of identifying 32-bit software before we hurtle on to 10.15 and it all breaks. Being able to resize APFS disk images without using Terminal would be highly desirable, as would some relief from the promiscuous writing of quarantine flags to documents opened by sandboxed apps, but I fear that the latter is probably here to haunt us well into the future.

Losing all access to 32-bit apps is going to be more serious than many seem to think. Only recently, I had to fall back to using an old 32-bit OCR app to make sense of 161 pages of French, where the current version of that product didn’t want to help. I can see that I’ll have to upgrade my old VMWare Fusion licence and keep a Mojave virtual machine to hand, loaded with those old and indispensible tools just in case they’re needed.

I for one will be sad to see the last of Mojave, which I have enjoyed even more than I did Sierra. I’ve run it on two 27-inch iMacs, one with a Fusion Drive, the other an iMac Pro with its T2 and wickedly quick SSD, and a non-T2 MacBook Pro, and it has seldom done anything unpleasant. My iMac Pro runs 24/7 for periods of around a month between restarts, something I was never able to achieve in Sierra with its periodic collapse of automatic backing up.

I wasn’t particularly enthused at the prospect of Dark Mode, which I barely used during Mojave’s beta phase, but once I tried it on a 27-inch display I was converted. My biggest regrets in Mojave have been with bundled apps like the App Store, which never ceases to annoy and disappoint. Then I rarely use Mail, can’t remember the last time I accidentally opened News, and will be glad to see the back of iTunes at last. Probably the only Apple app which is almost constantly in use on my iMac Pro is Safari, which for the moment at least Apple seems content to leave as a native macOS app rather than revamping it into something alien.

There’s plenty of unresolved business, though, in Mojave. In general, fears over the side-effects of its privacy protection haven’t been justified. I’ve recently tested a series of apps like Alfred which rely on being given the right levels of access, and most have coped well, albeit with significant additional burdens on both developer and user.

For me the remaining issues, which are only being worsened in Catalina, are those levels of access which the programmer can’t address, at present Full Disk Access in particular. Users are still expected to add apps to that list themselves, an action which they can and do get wrong. Protecting users from making this error is something for which Apple has accepted no responsibility, leaving it to developers to struggle with little or no support from macOS. The end result is that, for some users, protection of their privacy worsens their experience of macOS, which isn’t a good trade-off at all.

I hope that your update to macOS 10.14.6 goes smoothly, and proves a stepping-stone to Catalina.