With a significant Mac OSX upgrade fast approaching, Mike Levine offers some advice—and caution—on selecting the right time to switch over.

In October, Apple will release Mac OS X 10.15 Catalina, and when it does, my Mac will start bugging me to upgrade—and it can be annoyingly persistent. But for now, I’ll dismiss those requests and wait to let the developers of my music applications and plug-ins catch up, because a new OS often creates software incompatibilities.

I have no desire to throw my DAW and plug-ins into potential turmoil just to get some new functionality from my OS. I like to wait at least a few months before updating. Particularly because with OSX, once you’ve upgraded, it’s a major pain in the butt to revert to the previous version.

I haven’t had a lot of experience with PCs, so I can’t speak definitively about the hazards of Windows updates, but I would imagine similar issues exist. (Windows users: feel free to comment about your experiences with OS updates and music software.)

Read more Mix Blog Studio: Get Smart.

Despite the risks of updating an OS right when it's released, some people always want to have the latest and greatest and so they rush blindly into it. I do understand that impulse, but when it comes to your studio, being an early adopter is a risky proposition. You could potentially find it difficult to load a session or have critical plug-ins that won’t work. It’s a crapshoot.

Most likely, you can live without whatever cool new capabilities are in the new OS—at least for a while. That said, I am looking forward to upgrading to Catalina at some point. I’m intrigued that I’ll be able to run iPad apps on it. More importantly, Apple has finally killed iTunes, which was initially a utiliarian music player but in recent years has become a user-unfriendly, bloated piece of you know what.

They’ve replaced it with a new Apple Music app, which hopefully will offer a better user experience and won’t make what should be the simple act of listening to a song from your library into an almost Kafkaesque undertaking. (Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but not that much.)

Considering that music production software is the priority on both my desktop and laptop computers, I have no plans to move to Catalina anytime soon. I’ll wait and let the music software companies catch up first.

While I’m on the subject of OS updates, another rule I have for myself is never to update if I’m in the middle of a significant project. It’s not worth the risk. Just live with the OS you have until after the everything is done. I was involved in a big mixing project last year that went on for many months, and I resisted my Mac’s numerous requests for me to upgrade from High Sierra to Mojave until after it was finished.

When it comes to updating your OS, patience and restraint are the watchwords to go by.