macOS Big Sur: Using and Upgrading To


Dealing with macOS Big Sur

This topic is dedicated to providing tips, suggestions, and workarounds to using the upcoming macOS update Big Sur.

First, here are two lists (forum searches) that you should find useful:

  1. KM Forum Topics that are Tagged with "bigsur"
  2. KM Forum Topics that have "Big Sur" in its Title

So if you are running macOS Big Sur, and think it may be causing some problem(s), related to KM or not, please post as a new topic in the Questions and Suggestions section, and include "Big Sur" in the Title, and tag it with "bigsur".

As issues are identified and fixes or work-arounds are found, we will post either a link to the topic or the substance of the topic here.

It would be best to post all new issues in a separate topic, rather than here, so that we can have a proper discussion, and close.

Known Issues

  1. It is likely many of the Mojave/Catalina issues remain in Big Sur.

Those of you who are living on the bleeding edge might find this blog helpful:

What’s New in macOS Big Sur 11 Beta 8 (20A5374i)? -- Mr. Macintosh

(Please move if this is the wrong place.)

Seems like this topic is more meta than a repository for experiences, but perhaps this is a suitable place to make these migration notes. Generally, this is just a thumbs up migration success.

210523-1348- moving Keyboard Maestro from a High Sierra 10.13.6 system to Big Sur 11.3.1 system. used 'Application Support folder and Preference files' migration plan. So far the transition seems to have been very smooth, application-wiring was perfect. My HS source folder was pretty 'crufty' but I preferred to carry that cruft forward rather than lose anything. I made the following notes to myself (for future system builds); any of these settings listed may have been KM-on-BS changing the KM-on-HS settings (or not!). Notably the clipboards and variables came across seemingly PERFECTLY with values intact - no dealbreaker issues in this installation at all.


  • Launch Engine at Login was OFF and is usually ON.
  • I may have had the Applications palette showing, but i don't believe so, came back ON.
  • save recent apps - I believe this was OFF
  • save clipboard history - I believe this was OFF
  • Palettes seemed to have defaulted to white-on-black, pretty sure this blew out my defaults and may have had something to do with dark mode options.
  • clipboards and variables seemed to have come over fine.

View: Start Editing Macros came back OFF. I believe this is default for a new installation.

I had two or three windows open in the old system and on this one it only opened to the default one/dimensions I had open prior to migrate (replaced existing window basically), so this must be an macOS-related window definition.

The success of app-activations being so effectively wired may have been aided by leaving KM installation so far towards the end of the system build.


Thanks for sharing.

Great! Good to know.

Some questions if you don't mind:

  1. Was this using a clean install of Big Sur?
  2. If so, was it on a different Mac?
  3. Did you consider using the Apple Mac Migration tool?

Yes, the machine MacPro6,1 Late 2013 cylinder with a long in the tooth 500GB SSD which was reporting bad file numbers and heat warnings; replaced with OWC Aura Pro 2X 1TB for faster performance and more storage, but it was more about safety. So yes, clean install to the new SSD; same mac, new SSD. I was able to do a CCC clone to a USB3 toaster drive (where the source KM folders/files were taken from), but this is likely the last bootable backup I'll ever enjoy, no thanks to our covetous overlords.

I had some signs of SSD mangling on the old SSD (App Store / Updates looked like Netscape 1998 HTML... and other little things) so wherever possible this was a ground-up install to the new 1TB without retaining potential 'SSD-infected' glitches. Only the most essential/time-intensive setups were ported over, everything else manual. Audio plugin settings and Keyboard Maestro assets came over by direct copy - that's basically it. In spirit, I'm open to the Migration Tool as a solution, but now that we're on deteriorating SSDs it's always safer to generate fresh files where possible. I'd rather spend a few extra days building a system, then porting over dubious files that will cause me breakdowns or foreshortened life later, so it really depends on how new the drives are. I wavered on doing Export/Import for KM to keep it cleaner and refresh it all, but there are a lot of clipboards etc to sync and I just can't spend a day on manual KM rebuild and testing. Next time around, I'll likely do the cleaner Export/Import path. I'm super-thrilled at how things migrated across this time.

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Thanks for sharing that.
You mentioned in your FTP thread:

May I ask why it took two weeks?
Was it mostly just reinstalling/configuring all of your apps?
Or something else?


I'm asking myself that as well. :frowning: This time around I'm documenting the process in a massive text file, to try to find ways to rip through the process. So that's slowing me down a little this time around.

The customization and many, many important apps towards a highly specific worklow is what's taking the time I guess. But also, there is an immense amount of research which needs to be done before taking any decision, or installing any version. It takes great care.

The sound/music aspects really take it to the limit though with dozens of plugin manufacturers - same deal, compatibility concerns, various types of installers, babying your content. For DAWs: Logic, Pro Tools, Reaper take a ridiculous gardening, and then the giant swaths of Native Instruments and Waves.

To be fair, I'm bringing my reference system up to par at the same time, and building a whole new internal/library drive scheme. Most importantly though, the KM portion was very fast and thankfully so.

After this Big Sur build, I'm going to see if I can go three years before the next build. I actually enjoy the combing and grooming of an efficient, customized ecosystem - since we live our entire waking lives through these environments.

(Of note, I'm considering making the text file a sort of guidebook for sale.)

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Thanks for all the details -- very helpful.
So, do I read you correctly? You have no regrets about upgrading to Big Sur?

The reason I'm asking all these questions is that I am considering an upgrade from Mojave to Big Sur.

Big Sur does seem "ready". I guess it's been over a year. Most companies seem to have dealt with the Silicon/M1 testing as well, but that's another serious parameter for you to look at.

If you really love doing updateable, bootable backups, Big Sur is the first system where "clone it once, no updates allowed to the -System Volume" is the only option. And Apple has 100% confirmed that bootable backups will be ending soon. Consider not shifting from CCC5 to CCC6 if you don't care about APFS snapshots. Personally, CCC was freedom from Time Machine.

There are dozens of things I hate about Big Sur. Essentially it has broken great design and functionality down the line, replacing with a more-phone-like experience. big gaudy corner radius on all windows (so the children won't get hurt), ugly alerts, less functional visual design. More Siri integration, but security hassles x50. In other words, more good for the company, less good for the user. I do understand why the security is necessary and boy are they delivering.

If memory serves, I believe I only had one major grumble: the BS drivers for the Apogee Ensemble (Thunderbolt) aren't scheduled to arrive until July/August 2021. This is inexcusable, considering all the other companies that got it together in short order. So I have to do a hilarious runaround technique to reset my audio interface's digital clock, and hopefully I can use the rest of it just fine. That was the only "should have checked" item which bit me.

Just from a cosmic weather perspective, waiting until after mid-July to undertake any kind of technical progression may be advisable. This also coincides with another few months for developers to get their act together.

If you are having a good time with Mojave, absolutely stick with it. There's no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, as far as i can see. I am happy to futurize a 2013 machine lasting usefully until 2024, fingers-crossed.

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Just upgraded from Catalina to Big Sur 11.4 (stable).

KM seems to work fine.
Other apps also work fine.

Big Sur feels stable.

Just getting used to the whiteness of Big Sur.

Edit: Enabled Transparency and everything looks better.

"Just getting used to the whiteness of Big Sur."

Apple's latest obsession with enormous corner radii on everything must end, eating up so much wasted real estate, and making everything look like credit cards.