Late 2009 iMac - Should You Upgrade to High Sierra?

Our late-2009 iMac has been the best computer we've ever owned. 

Before the iMac, we used to need a new computer every couple of years. 

Even after all this time, the iMac still looks and feels state-of-the-art. 

But is it powerful enough to run High Sierra?

I'm going to buy a new iMac early next year. 

But in the interim, I'd like to be running High Sierra. 

Now, a 2009-era iMac isn't going to be able to take advantage of everything High Sierra has to offer. 

We bumped up the internal RAM to the highest available spec (16 GB)... but frankly, my iMac hasn't been able to add features for a while now. 

It can't do AirDrop to iOS. (You need 2012 or later for that.)

It can't do AirPlay Mirroring.

It has a standard HDD -- so it won't be able to run the new Apple File System. 
(Speaking of which, that HDD has been running nonstop for eight years. That... is concerning.)

It can't run Metal 2, so no new graphics capabilities. (Again, 2012 or newer only.)

So..... Why bother?

Family iCloud Account

First and foremost, if the iMac moves to High Sierra, we can create a shared "family" iCloud account. 

That would allow us to back up the iMac photo album, all of our iPhones, and a couple of iPads -- all into a single 2 TB account under the family "organizer" email.  

It would be SO much simpler, and would actually save us some money. (An extremely small amount, but still.)

New Photos App

We've never successfully made the switch from iPhoto to Photos. 

We have the Photos library, sure. But we still have dozens of iPhoto Events. 

And every time my wife wants to upload photos to a photo printer (i.e., Walgreens), she has to copy them to the desktop, and upload that copy. 

So.... our photos library is a mess. 

I'm buying a QNAP 4-bay NAS today, which will be the new home of our photo library.... accessible to all of our devices. 

And honestly - this will give us the opportunity to re-organize our photo library. I need to make sure everything is deduplicated, and located in Albums, instead of Events. 

Still - Photos adds some really useful editing tools... and will sync with our iPhoto library, too, so our photos will be safely backed up offsite AND available on all devices. 

What About Microsoft Office?

We have a copy of Microsoft Office 2008 installed on our iMac. 

It's ancient, it's not supported by Microsoft anymore, and the rumor has it that it will NOT work in High Sierra. 

In fact, it wasn't supposed to work in Sierra, either. 

If we upgrade and all of our Office applications no longer work, Ms. AAAD will not be happy. 

I mean... we could still open those documents in Pages and Numbers... and maybe it's time to make that switch. 

I kind of feel like we should at this point. 

BUT... maybe it's time to acquire a more recent copy of Office! 

(I'm not sure why, but old versions of Office are for sale on eBay for way too cheap. There has to be some kind of scam involved.  But I kind of want to give it a shot and see what happens....)

The Verdict

I'm going to give upgrading a shot. 

I'll make sure everything is backed up with Time Machine ahead of time... just in case. 

But the specter of losing Office 2008 is not enough to keep me from the benefits of Family iCloud. 

I'll let everyone know how it goes. 


  1. How did the update go? Do you still recommend it?

  2. still waiting.

  3. Sorry for the long wait. The 2009 iMac upgraded to High Sierra with no issues.

    Including our copy of Office 2008, which required certain updates, but which continued to work as usual.

    Ultimately - this upgrade was an almost total non-event. Now, YMMV - our iMac has a lot of extra RAM, which may have made the upgrade run more smoothly than it would on a stock 2009 iMac.

    We've been far more focused on getting all of our data OFF of this iMac, and moved to our new 2017 iMac (or iCloud.)