Moving to the New M1 Systems - What Works and What Doesn't

I got my brand new MacBook Air with the M1 chip today! So far, I’m loving it. I had to do my last couple of Zoom calls on my iPhone while my old MacBook Pro was migrating to the MacBook Air. But now I’m in and I thought I would share a few observances in case anyone is wondering.

The migration assistant process was going slow until I realized that I had forgotten to plug in the Thunderbolt cable. Then it completely hung for a while. I unplugged the cable maybe 20 minutes later only to find that it had been transferring but just not updating the progress bar.

For the record, my MacBook Pro that I migrated from was running Catalina.

Now that I’m logged in, I’ve been spending time with app permissions and getting things working. I’ve been trying to download new installers of some of my apps to make sure they are as compatible as possible.

What Works

So far, the following work for me, though I had to download Rosetta (which was just agreeing to an Apple dialog box):

  • Dropbox
  • Microsoft Office (tested Word and Outlook)
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Setapp (took forever to launch and then wanted to download an update; now it is fine)
  • Bartender
  • Adobe InDesign (Though it crashed during the first login process. I haven’t tested the rest of the Creative Suite yet)
  • Text Expander
  • Default Folder X
  • nvAlt

What Does Not Work

  • Google Drive File Stream - requires a system extension that’s not possible

I’m not sure if this is all helpful for anyone or not. If it is, I am happy to keep updating this list. I’d love for others to share you experiences as well.

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Be sure to share with us how it performs in terms of snappiness as well as battery life. I know that’s an interest for many of us, at least it is for me. :slight_smile:

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Thanks Chris :slight_smile:

Look forward to further updates. Not sure when I’ll get an M1 - thought I still needed Windows VM for a few apps but starting to lean towards finding replacements for these apps

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In my limited time with it I can say I agree with @MacSparky and all of the other early reviews. It is skippy fast and wakes from sleep like a two-year-old a 5 a.m.

I haven’t done any production work on it yet, but I opened Final Cut Pro a few times just to marvel at how fast it launches. It’s like opening an app on the iPad: it just opens without delay.

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I have a PC laptop at work that I pull out if needed. But it is pretty rare. Without fail every time I turn it on, it has to run through several Windows updates. But that machine is mostly just used for testing some things in our IT environment and is a kind of crappy general issue Lenovo corporate laptop.

Have you ever thought of trying Amazon’s virtual Windows desktop product? Or Microsoft Azure can do it too. I’ve considered it and probably will set something up in the next year as we are working on some IT initiatives and it will be a good way to test things on a “fast” machine in the cloud. Depending on the pricing, I have a feeling those types of environments may end up being a good replacement for Parallels for some people. I’m in some video groups and there’s been a lot of posting recently of people running full on live video productions using vMix which is super GPU intensive, and they’re doing it all in the cloud on virtual machines.

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There has been much talk about the 16Gb max RAM upgrade with no ability for the user to upgrade. There is fear that these new machines will not last as long as new OS versions become more RAM hungry.

However, I’m wondering if the SoC system architecture is going to require less RAM overhead going forward, and that’s why Apple imposed the limit. After all, macOS Big Sur was written specifically to work with these chip systems. They just don’t think it’s needed and don’t want to waste resources manufacturing M1 chips with 32Gb+ of RAM when there may not be the demand. We may be applying old world thinking to a new world of system design.

Also, the maximums may change for machines in the future. For example, the 16" MacBook Pro may come with 32Gb max to make it more “Pro.” The same could be true of iMacs. I’m not sure what they will do about the Mac Pro, which was sold as being modular and upgradeable.

Perhaps as we start to use these systems we can post feedback to see whether the RAM ceiling is really an issue?

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I have a feeling that’s what’s happening. I’ll keep monitoring RAM usage, as I’m sure others will do also.

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The problem with something like that is that it does not do nearly as good as job of integrating the workflow and filesystems of the two operating systems together.

For example, I use Dragon Dictate on Parallels and copy/paste the output into Mac applications; that would be hard to pull off on a cloud-based virtualization.

Another example - I use MadCap flare to manage a large set of documents and create new content. The data all resides on my main Mac hard drive and backup system; that would be a lot of work to do on a cloud-based Windows system and would not integrate nearly as well.

Sometimes I want to use some file conversion utility on the Mac when I am working in Windows or vice versa; that sort of interchangeability cannot be achieved with a Cloud-based virtual PC.

All of that makes sense! In my case, most of my Windows use is either testing or doing demonstrations for Windows users, so I don’t need as much back and forth between the OSes.

The only thing for me that would be easier in virtualization would be this very specific Adobe Acrobat plugin that I have used to do some batch automations on files and forms. It just isn’t available for Mac. But I was able to get by fine by just syncing through Dropbox.

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OK, this has got me smiling. I’m watching a live stream video in 1080p and installing the beta Microsoft Office at the same time with no fan spinning up. Amazing!

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Good info. I have been waiting for the M1 chip. I have a 2011 MacBook Pro. Works great- thanks Apple for indestructible machines- but won’t run the new OS. My biggest reluctance to order one is the apprehension that you might have software glitches. Microsoft Office is a must have for me. Thanks.

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Couple items which don’t work quite yet:

  • Docker
  • Karabiner Elements

I’ve found Brew to somewhat work. I’ve had to installed both the Apple Silicon and the Intel version depending on which package I needed.

—Scott

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Is anyone running APFS external backups yet? Curious if you’ve seen improved performance and/or issues.

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Appreciate you brave people on M1 and giving feedbacks to us sitting on the fence.

That is the way things are going. I give it 10 years til we run everything (99%) remote. Wonder what Apple is gonna do about that, actually.

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Google Drive - I’ve found that it works mostly, other than a display issue in the folder/file picker when including/excluding during setup.

I’ve a historical Google Photos folder in my root, and in the picker the folder name is truncated to show just “Google” and not “Google Photos”, so I ended up syncing everything in my photos archive up to 2018! Filled the SSD on the new Mac mini!

Easy fix once I realised, to exclude the folder from local sync, but took a little time to work it out.

Drive itself seems to work fine otherwise.

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Which cable or connector would one need to transfer from a 2014 MacBook Pro to a new M1 Macbook Air?

I picked up an M1 Mac Mini Base Model (8GB/512GB). I had ordered a maxed out Intel Mac Mini, but decided to return it after a few days with the base model.

I will most likely upgrade to the 16GB model. Issues that I am noticing with just the following open…

Safari, Messages, Omnifocus, WhatsApp, Fantastical, DevonThink, Amphetamine, Spark. I had to close the Logos software. (I didn’t check what’s running int he background but text input is sluggish, I see a significant delay at random times. Messages takes a bit to load up.)

Also…just saw this…

If you want to do Migration Assistant via a cable, I think you’d need a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter and a Thunderbolt 3 cable.

How have you found this? For me, it’s been trying to chug through files and download but it’s not being very good. I don’t think it helps that I’ve had Arq backing up to OneDrive so there’s hundreds of files in there - I’m beginning to think I’ll remove the Arq backups at this rate and see how it performs then, but ideally I want it working, so I can sync Teams (Sharepoint) sites to my drive, rather than relying on the awful Teams interface.