Overview

Apple releases a new operating system for computers annually and several minor macOS updates throughout the year. It is recommended that you upgrade or update to the latest macOS version to reduce security vulnerabilities, support greater user efficiency and productivity with new features, and use new computer management capabilities. In the past, administrators have used imaging to upgrade to the latest version of macOS. Apple does not recommend or support monolithic system imaging as an installation method because of recent improvements in macOS security, hardware, management, and deployment. Instead, you can use Jamf Pro or other workflows supported by Apple to upgrade macOS.

Before deploying a macOS upgrade or update, you should test it with your environment to see how it will impact your infrastructure, security, applications, and management. There are several ways to upgrade or update the computer operating system without using imaging. The following flowchart covers best practice methods for upgrading and updating macOS to help you make a decision about which method in this guide to use:

images/download/attachments/31064305/Deploying_macOS_Upgrades_Method_Flowchart_%286%29_crop.png

If you want to retain computer data, you can use the following workflows to upgrade or update macOS:

  • Updating macOS by sending a mass action command—You can use a mass action command to update macOS on computers that are enrolled via automated MDM enrollment (formerly DEP) using a PreStage enrollment in Jamf Pro. This method is recommended for minor macOS releases, and is the workflow recommended by Apple. For more information, see Updating macOS by Sending a Mass Action Command.

  • Running Software Update using a policy—You can run Software Update using a policy to update to a minor macOS release. When used with a software update server, this process provides more control over which update is installed. For more information, see Running Software Update Using a Policy.

  • Installing macOS from macOS Recovery—If you want to manually upgrade to the latest macOS compatible with your computer, you can use macOS Recovery. This method requires an internet connection during the upgrade process and is only for major macOS releases. For more information, see Installing macOS from macOS Recovery.

  • Packaging the macOS installer and installing macOS—If you want to automate the upgrade process, you can package the macOS installer and install it automatically or allow users to install it via Self Service. Additionally, you have the option of using a script to customize the end user experience. This method is recommended for major macOS releases. For more information, see Packaging and Deploying the macOS Installer.

If you want to erase computer data, you can use the following workflows to upgrade macOS:

  • Installing macOS from macOS Recovery—If you want to manually upgrade to the latest macOS compatible with your computer, you can use macOS Recovery. To erase computer data before installing macOS, you can use the Disk Utility. This method requires an internet connection during the upgrade process and is only for major macOS releases. For more information, see Installing macOS from macOS Recovery.

  • Packaging the macOS installer and installing macOS—(macOS 10.13.4 or later only) If you want to automate the upgrade process, you can package the macOS installer with the --eraseinstall flag included and install it automatically or allow users to install it via Self Service. Additionally, you have the option of using a script to customize the end-user experience. This method is recommended for major macOS releases. For more information, see Packaging and Deploying the macOS Installer.

If you are not prepared to upgrade or update macOS, you can restrict a software upgrade or update by creating a restricted software record, or defer an update by using a configuration profile. For more information on how to restrict a software upgrade or update, see Restricted Software in the Jamf Pro Administrator's Guide or the Deferring a macOS Update Best Practice Workflow for Jamf Pro.

Related Information

For related information on the methods available for installing macOS, see the following article from Apple's support website: https://support.apple.com/HT208020

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