Sunsetting support for older macOS versions

I know that this is a slightly controversial topic – how many macOS versions back should a developer support? Can a developer remove support for older macOS versions in the middle of the software life cycle (i.e. not at the point of a major upgrade)?

These questions do not have a clear answer, unfortunately. All macOS apps that we develop support macOS versions all the way back to macOS 10.11 in some cases (e.g. Eon Timer), though most of them support macOS 10.12 and later (Downie, Permute, UctoX). When you take a look at the calendar, it’s 2022 and macOS 10.12 was released in 2016. That’s 6 years ago…

So what’s the big deal supporting older macOS versions? Well, someone needs to test it. There are subtle differences inbetween macOS versions in UI layout, behavior, etc. that need to be taken into account. Newer technologies are impossible to use due to supporting older macOS versions (e.g. Swift UI, Swift Concurrency – all require macOS 11 or later).

For a small one-person company like this, it is becoming no longer feasible to test the software thoroughly on 6 different operating systems (and it will be 7 in a month) and to make individual adjustments for them. With this in mind, I’d like to share macOS usage statistics for Downie (and they are very similar for Permute) as provided by Setapp (I do not have the data for non-Setapp versions):

  • macOS 10.12 – 0.2%
  • macOS 10.13 – 1.12%
  • macOS 10.14 – 1.58%
  • macOS 10.15 – 4.93%
  • macOS 11 – 9.08%
  • macOS 12 – 83.08%

This shows that over 95% of users are running macOS 10.15+ and over 90% of users are running macOS 11.

Given this, starting Jun 1, 2022, macOS versions prior to macOS 10.15 will receive limited support. What exactly does that mean? New features are not guaranteed to work correctly or even be available on these macOS versions, various issues that would require massive workarounds will no longer be fixed.

The apps will still run on the macOS versions that they currently run on and I will do my very best to keep it that way, but there simply are no guarantees.

Note 1: this article may be updated in the future with newer statistics and a shift in the list of macOS versions supported. Current update: May 12, 2022

Note 2: any major app updates (e.g. Permute 4, Downie 5, etc) will require at least macOS 11, but will likely require even newer macOS version…  

Updates

• Sep 26, 2022 – as Xcode 14 (which is required for macOS 13 improvements and compatibility) no longer supports macOS 10.12, all future updates will require macOS 10.13 or later.  

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads-up Charlie. The “big guys” in software do this all the time, but not so nicely, and with no explanation of why. Those of us who have been using your software for a while are happy with whatever you decide.

  2. My computer automatically updated from Downie 4.4.3.8 to 4.4.5.3 but I have an older MacOs (MacOS Mojave) on my laptop, because of various reasons. Where can I download an older version of Downie which works optimal for MacOS Mojave? Or maybe this new version of Downie will work just fine on my computer?

    • Please see the blog post:

      […] What exactly does that mean? New features are not guaranteed to work correctly or even be available on these macOS versions, various issues that would require massive workarounds will no longer be fixed.

      The apps will still run on the macOS versions that they currently run on and I will do my very best to keep it that way, but there simply are no guarantees.

      There is no need to keep running an outdated version, please keep Downie up-to-date. This is simply a heads-up that the macOS version you are running is getting outdated and I simply cannot maintain backward compatibility for that many macOS versions without it affecting users on newer versions (which is a vast majority). But as noted, this is about new features, or for example in case of Downie about sites that require newer web view components that are system-provided and updated with macOS.

      Hope it makes more sense now.

  3. I’ve got Mojave running on an older model Mac Pro, so thanks for the heads up.

  4. Hi there
    Ive just updated to a new (old) computer Mac 10.13 + and I have to say how much I’m enjoying using Downie and permute together. Thankyou for the enjoyable and robust performance these apps bring to my collection of videos and rendering rare files to MP3 – really dig it – all the best!

  5. On Setapp, support from 10.12 to 10.14 is almost non-existent anymore. Even in 10.15 it generates many problems. Partly because the new technologies are not applicable, partly because they themselves insist on constantly updating themselves and imposing the use of all those novelties on everyone. Therefore, the data of the users of Setapp does not have to be the real data of the use of those non-current systems, because in Setapp they are discouraged. Possibly, who wants to use these systems is easier to acquire the program directly to avoid this imposition. Myself, I have license of the previous version. I use it on two iMacs. In a third, with catalina, I use Setapp and the current version. I have considered several times to acquire the license of Downie and other applications. And the main reason was that: to maintain support for my systems. Without that support, I either stay on Setapp and update, or I have to opt out of using the program. Or the previous version while I hold on 🙂

    • Thank you for the feedback. Note that from what I understand Setapp will still install on older macOS versions (though an older version of the app itself) and it will install the latest compatible version of the apps. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I was told that from the Setapp team. Please note that I’ve been observing the statistics for some while now and it’s not that I would have suddenly looked at the stats and made a decision – this was really brewing in me for some time, I’ve been watching the 10.12 stats being under 2% for years now, the same for 10.13 – even when Setapp fully supported these macOS versions.

      Additionally, the in-app support reports include the macOS version, so I’ve been also noticing this trend there. I do not have stats for this, this is just an observation that for 20 reports, I get 1 from pre-10.15 version. So statistically, it is very similar to what Setapp reports.

      While I do understand that there are users using them and I value and appreciate those users (please don’t think that I don’t), there are also users still running OS X 10.11 or even earlier in some instances. But from the overall number of users, these are (percentually) very few people and I simply cannot stand back. I need to start adopting new technologies (SwiftUI, Swift Concurrency, etc) which are only available on macOS 10.15 or later (Concurrency) or even on macOS 11 or later (SwiftUI)…

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