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Upgrading operating systems on older Macs

Q: I have a 3-year-old MacBook Air running OS X 10.9.5 and it has never been upgraded. Can I upgrade to the newest operating system, skipping all the previous upgrades?

A: You should be able to upgrade to macOS High Sierra, Apple’s latest operating system for its Mac laptops and desktops, without having to download and install the three upgrades that were released in the interim. The company says Macs that are running at least OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) — and that meet the hardware requirements for the new software — can upgrade directly to High Sierra (also known as macOS 10.13).

As for those hardware requirements, Apple says MacBook Air laptops from late 2010 and later are compatible. (MacBook Pro laptops, along with Mac Mini and Mac Pro desktops released in mid-2010 or later, also meet the High Sierra upgrade requirements, as do iMacs and MacBooks released since late 2009.)

You do need to have at least 2 gigabytes of memory and 14.3 gigabytes of available storage space for the installation process. If your laptop’s drive is too full, delete or offload files you no longer need. Apple’s support site has a page of tips for clearing up drive space.

Before you jump to High Sierra, you may want to make a list of all the programs you use regularly on your current system, and make sure those applications are compatible with the new one. The crowdsourced application compatibility table on the Roaring Apps site shows what other users have reported, but check with the developer’s support site if you do not see your critical apps there — or want to learn of any issues or updates needed to run properly on High Sierra.

Before you download and install the new system, back up your MacBook Air. When you have everything backed up and are ready, go to the Mac App Store to find and download the free macOS High Sierra upgrade.

Moving the Taskbar on a Windows Tablet

Q: How do you move the taskbar to a different side of the screen on a Windows 10 tablet? I tried dragging it with my finger, and nothing happened.

A: If a finger drag does not budge the taskbar, you can use a system setting, but you should make sure the taskbar is unlocked first. To do that, press and hold your finger on an empty section of the Taskbar (or right click) until the menu with the Taskbar Settings item pops up.

Select Taskbar Settings. At the top of the Taskbar Settings box, make sure the “Lock the taskbar” option is turned off. Next, scroll down until you get to the “Taskbar location on screen” area and use the menu to select your preference: Left, Top, Right or Bottom. The taskbar should then jump to the side of the screen you have chosen. (Mouse users should be able to click and drag an unlocked taskbar to a different side of the screen.)

The Settings box has other controls for taskbar behavior. You can choose to have it automatically hide when you are not using it. You can change the size of the taskbar buttons, or choose to show labels and notification badges on icons.

The On switch for the Peek feature also lives in the Taskbar settings box. Peek, if you have not used it before, temporarily removes all of the open windows on the screen and shows you the desktop when you press and hold the far-right end of taskbar; mouse users get the same results by moving the cursor over the right end of the taskbar. To return to the open windows, move your finger or the mouse cursor.

If the Peek feature has been turned off, you can enable it. Tap the On button next to “Use Peek to preview the desktop when you move your mouse to the Show desktop button at the end of the taskbar.”

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