The Minimum Requirements for Running macOS Sierra

Most 2009 Macs and older aren't compatible

Apple released macOS Sierra as a public beta in July 2016. The operating system went golden and had its full release on September 20, 2016. Along with giving the operating system a new name, Apple added a lot of new features to macOS Sierra. It is more than a simple update or a bunch of security and bug fixes.

Instead, macOS Sierra adds new features to the operating system, including the incorporation of Siri, expansion of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-based connectivity features, and a whole new file system that replaces the venerable but outdated HFS+ system that Macs have used for the last 30 years.

macOS Sierra desktop

Mac Support List

When an operating system encompasses such a wide range of new features and capabilities, not all older hardware is going to be able to upgrade. In this case, the list of Macs that can support macOS Sierra was trimmed substantially. For the first time in five years, Apple removed Mac models from the list of supported devices for a Mac OS.

The following Macs are capable of running macOS Sierra:

Mac Models Year Lowest Compatible Model ID
MacBook Late 2009 and later MacBook 6,1
MacBook Air 2010 and later MacBookAir 3,1
MacBook Pro Mid-2010 and later MacBookPro 6,1
iMac Late 2009 and later iMac 10,1
Mac mini Mid-2010 and later Mac mini 4,1
Mac Pro Mid-2010 and later MacPro 5,1
Macs Compatible With macOS Sierra

Aside from two late 2009 Mac models (MacBook and iMac), all Macs older than 2010 aren't able to run macOS Sierra. What isn't clear is why some models made the cut and others didn't. As an example, a 2009 Mac Pro that is not supported has much better specs than the 2009 Mac mini that is supported. Apple’s not saying why the older Macs didn't make the support list.

Be sure and have a recent backup before proceeding with the patch and install process.

Other Requirements for macOS Sierra

Apple didn't issue specific minimum requirements beyond the list of supported Macs, but it does require that a machine run OS X Lion (10.7) and later.

However, going through the support list and looking at what a base install of the macOS Sierra preview needs gives a good idea of the macOS Sierra minimum requirements, as well as a list of preferred requirements.

Drive space size is an indication of the amount of free space needed just for the OS install and does not represent the total amount of free space that should be present for the effective operation of your Mac.

Item Minimum Recommended Much Better
RAM 4GB 8GB 16GB
Drive Space * 16GB 32GB 64GB
Memory Requirements

If your Mac meets the minimum requirements for installing macOS Sierra, you're ready to undertake the installation process.