to commonly asked questions.

Big Sur

Big Sur needs a lot of space.

Why am I seeing this?


Your computer is telling you that in order to do that particular update, you’ll need to free up space. In other words, your internal hard drive is full. I’m guessing you’re trying to move to the latest OS “Big Sur”. Big Sur is 12 gigs large and you only have 16 gigs available. So you would need to find items that you no longer need in order to free up space. It’s possible we may be able to remove iTunes movies or TV shows, old iPhone backups, etc… that could be taking up space you no longer need.

Big Sur is good to go.

Now please keep in mind that before ever upgrading your operating system, it’s always best practice to make sure you have a good time machine backup.

After a bit of a rough launch in late November, Apple’s newest operating system, Big Sur, has advanced from 11.0 to 11.2.3. That means Apple has sent out several improvements and fixes so at this time I’m letting you know, if you haven’t yet, I’d say you are clear to move forward with upgrading to Big Sur.
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What is the deal with Time Machine formatted hard drives and Big Sur?

This is so confusing. What is the deal with time machine formatted drives and Big Sur?

Prior to Big Sur, Time Machine used "MacOS Extended Journaled" or "MacOS Extended Journaled Encrypted" (if you were using file vault, to backup your internal computer to an external hard drive. Even though solid state drives were APFS, Catalina and earlier still used Journaled format for backup.

Now that Big Sur has landed, Apple wants to use APFS across the board. So now, if you are using Big Sur, your Time Machine drive will prefer to use APFS or APFS ecrypted if using file vault. Note: I don't recommend using file vault.

Further explanation from Apple:

Yes of disks to be used:

Encrypt or unencrypted:

Should I upgrade to Big Sur yet?

I wondered if you advice was still not to update to Big Sur?

Honestly, I thought that Big Sur would be more stable after 11.2 but based on what I’ve seen and had to deal with lately, I’d say don’t move to it. The issue is that Apple is building it for the M1 chip architecture primarily and supporting Intel processors as a secondary thought. They would never admit that but that’s what it feels like to me.

Will my laptop hold the new operating system?

Hi. My husband asked me if my laptop had enough memory to handle the new operating system. I am assuming you checked all that out so I said oh yes it has enough memory. Hope I am right. Big thanks for any insight.

While I can't recall the exact specs of your machine (I see a lot of machines each week) here's a quick way to see if you have enough space. Under the black apple, select "about this Mac" then select storage. Big Sur MacOS 11 is huge! It takes over 12 gigs just to download. That footprint does shrink a little after the install is complete but you do need a good amount of space in order to comfortably operate.

If you have say under 30 gigs available then I wouldn't really advise moving to Big Sur.

Another thing to consider are the model computer you have. Again, "about this Mac" then Overview.

Several of my clients are currently experiencing headaches with Big Sur MacOS 11 so even though it just went to 11.2, I'm still weary to recommend it based on the issues I'm dealing with. If you have one of the new M1 MacBooks then it's fine overall although I've even dealt with Big Sur problems on M1 as well. But if you have an earlier machine 2019 and earlier that is, then proceed at your own risk.

Should I use iCloud drive?

I downloaded the new operating system BigSur. Asking if i want to download all of my files in iCloud. Assuming the answer is No? Says will use 990.2MB.

Personally I prefer not to sync my documents and desktop folder to iCloud Drive which is what you’re talking about here. The plus is that your documents and desktop items are then backed up to the cloud. That’s great. The negatives are that you it tasks your computer more than it should which means less processor power for other things. Second negative, you have to make sure you have enough space in the cloud. Apple is hoping you buy more. Third negative, it means that the Desktop and Documents folder are basically useless for major tasks like editing video or audio files with professional level programs. Those files would have to find new homes. Not applicable to your use but I like to be thorough in my answers so I thought I’d mention it.

Also, keep in mind there are competitors to iCloud Drive syncing like Google Drive, Microsoft's One Drive, and Dropbox. Dropbox being my first choice.

When is it ok to move to Big Sur?

Is it safe to move to Big Sur yet?

As of 1/26/21 Big Sur is still sitting at version 11.1. I would wait until they move to 11.2. Maybe 1 week more I’m guessing. 11.1 is a month old.

Backup before moving to Big Sur

My fingers on the trigger…still January before upgrading?

Big Sur released late November with 11.0 and was soon updated to 11.0.1. As always I discuraage all users from any .0 release. YESTERDAY Apple release 11.1 so I'd say you are much more safe to upgrade. As always, have a good backup drive before any major upgrade. Just ask the computer I'm currently working on….


Ran updates, didn't have a backup. All is lost.

Is it safe to upgrade to Big Sur yet?

Keep getting prompts to upgrade; is Big Sur safe yet?

Safe, yes. Stable, yes. Would I upgrade? Not yet.

I say wait until mid Jan. I’m seeing several issues, mostly with the new Apple M1 chip but best just to wait a bit. They did put out a very VERY big .0.1 update a couple days ago but that seems to mostly address Rosetta, their new translation software for the M1.

Just be be safe, I’d say chill for a couple more weeks. Once 11.1 is out (their on 11.0.1 at the moment) then I think you can pull the trigger. Software update or the App Store will tell you what the currently available version is.

Big Sur is a ...wait.

For the first time on almost 20 years, Apple is leaving the "MacOS 10" monicker and moving to "MacOS 11" calling it Big Sur.  While they're still naming each operating system after a famous place in California, there's A LOT that's going to be different in the new interface.  I'd like to encourage everyone just to pause a bit before running to the software update and hitting "update".  

While I've been testing MacOS 11 Big Sur for several months, and it has been very stable, I
cannot honestly say go ahead.  There are many hidden issues that are yet to be revealed.  There is a big difference between thousands of testers versus millions and this transition is a pretty big upgrade.  It's already begun causing issues with existing software and older operating systems like Mojave and Catalina as Apple makes changes to how software is signed in order to run on previous operating systems. For instance, you may go to print as usual then see a scary message that says you're trying to run software that may harm your computer.  I've had several clients report this exact scenario.  What's happening is that every legitimate piece of software has to be signed by Apple as a way of authenticating only good safe software.  The problem is, as changes are being made, some completely safe software like print drivers, Webex, Zoom, MS Office and others may need to be re-authenticated via Apple's invisible security software as their old certificates expire.  When this doesn't happen you get that message.  This is all a result of Apple's efforts to make our computers even more secure.  You may notice other services like iCloud mail, photo syncing, iMessage and others effected over the next day or so as changes are made at Apple's servers behind the scenes.  If you think you are experiencing outages of services, you can check Apple system status here. To make a cake, you have to break a few eggs so don't be alarmed if you experience something strange.  Feel free to check my answers section or schedule a session if needed.  

Apple will be on high alert over the next week as they start receiving feedback from the general public as to what they may need to fix within their first few updates to MacOS 11.  So why not just skip all that and wait a few weeks.  Mid-January would be a good safe target to upgrade. In the mean time, to see some of the new features that await, you can check out Apple's overview of Big Sur at

Will my phone update to Big Sur?

I have auto updates turned on for my phone and the version I have is 14.0.1. Is it too late to avoid the huge update you’re talking about here?

Good question. There is a difference between “updates” and “upgrades”. Your phone is not involved with Big Sur. I'm talking about a computer operating system like an iMac or a laptop. The phone runs something called iOS. 14 is the lates and your phone does upgrades automatically but your computer does not. In other words, your phone could go from 13.4 to 14.1 without you noticing. Your computer can not go from MacOS 10 to MacOS 11 without you agreeing to. However, updates are smaller. 11.1 to 11.2 would be an update and you can set your computer to move up to the next update on its own.

Will Big Sur fix Apple Mail?

My gmail is acting up again inside Apple Mail. What should I do?

Before we re-attack the problem, let’s give apple a chance to resolve it. We are VERY close to the next operating system updated called Big Sur. MacOS 11. This is a major overhaul of MacOS. We’ve been using MacOS 10 since 2001 so moving to the number 11 says a lot to how big a change the entire OS is headed for. My hope is that Big Sur will address the mail issue you’re having. I believe last time it took a lot of digging to get to the root of the issue. By the way, I’ve actually had several gmail related complaints toward apple mail in the last two months so you’re issue is not alone. Last time, we tried replacing the email account by deleting then readding and then redownloading all the email. Cleaned out the old V2 folders but in the end it was a pretty obscure fix that resolved the issue. However, let’s sit back since we are so close to Big Sur’s release and see if it self-resolves.

Full Disclosure: Big Sir won’t come without it’s share of potential problems. It’s possible that moving to Big Sur could also create new issues with VMware or Parallels. I’ve not tested virtual machines yet within MacOS 11 but it wouldn’t surprise me if either of those companies were slow to roll out updates to their virtual machines to work with Big Sur.
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