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How to install the macOS Monterey public beta

How to install the macOS Monterey public beta


Including steps on how to install it on a separate partition

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Image: Apple

Apple has launched the public beta for macOS Monterey. This is the next big update coming to Mac computers (the final version is expected later in 2021) and it brings several big changes. In this article, we’re going to walk you through how to get the beta onto your computer, should you want it. Once you install the beta, it will likely receive several updates between now and the final release.

(Looking for steps to install the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 public betas? We’ve got you covered here.)

What’s new about macOS Monterey?

One of the most impressive demos that Apple showed during WWDC 2021 was the new drag-and-drop feature called Universal Control that’ll let you seamlessly move your cursor and files between an iPad and Mac computer, as if they were all hard-wired together. Check out Dieter Bohn’s video below to find out more about that feature.

Macs will also get Shortcuts and will be able to act as AirPlay targets, so your computer will be able to play content from your iPhone or iPad. There are more changes in the update, and my colleague Mitchell Clark covers all of the highlights here.

Here’s some more coverage:

What devices are supported for macOS Monterey?

Here’s the list:

How to install the macOS Monterey beta on your main partition

First off, back up your data via Time Machine. This will allow you to revert to Big Sur should things not go well with the Monterey beta. If you’re planning to install this beta on your main machine, keep in mind that you may encounter problems (bugs, incompatibility issues, worse-than-usual battery life) that might get in your way — not what you want if you’re on any kind of deadline. Also, make sure that you have around 20GB of free space available on your hard drive before trying to install.

There’s a way to avoid some of this possible drama. If you’re using a machine with macOS High Sierra or later, you can use built-in tools to partition your hard drive so the beta can live in isolation. This way, you can test out the new features, then boot into your stable macOS partition with the rest of your data when you’re done. We’ll walk through that later.

Let’s get started.

  • Head to Apple’s beta software portal via Safari.
  • If you haven’t previously installed a public beta, you’ll need to sign up for access with your Apple ID. Otherwise, click “Enroll Your Devices” at the top-right corner of the webpage.
  • Click “macOS,” the middle option at the center of the next page.
  • Scroll down until you find a button that says “Download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility.” Click on it to download a .DMG file, which will enroll your computer.
  • Upon booting the installer, you’ll be prompted if it doesn’t detect a Time Machine backup. (You did make a backup, right? Like I suggested above?)
  • Lastly, head to “Software Update” from the System Preferences app (if it doesn’t open automatically) to install the beta. If you’ve enrolled in the beta program, you should see the message “This Mac is enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program” located underneath the big “Software Update” icon. Note: the download might not be available to you immediately. You’ll receive a notification once it is.
  • The update file will take a while to download. Once it’s done, hit install and run through the steps.

How to create a separate partition

  • Open Disk Utility (a built-in app you can find by typing its name into the Spotlight search bar). Your hard drive’s partitions will be listed under “Internal” along the left side of the window. You might only see one.
If your machine is using APFS, click the plus sign at top to create a new partition.
If your machine is using APFS, click the plus sign at top to create a new partition.
  • If you’re using a machine with macOS High Sierra or newer, clicking your main partition should reveal that it’s a “APFS Volume.” If so, you can then simply click the plus button above the word “Volume” at the top-left corner of the Disk Utility window to make a new volume.
  • You can name the volume anything you want, then hit “Add.” Since storage formatted to APFS is shared across volumes, there’s no need to worry about how much space to set aside in the new volume when you create it.
  • (Note: If your machine’s drive is formatted to Mac OS Extended instead of APFS, you can select the “Partition” button near the top of the Disk Utility window instead. You’ll need to name the partition, then decide how much storage you’d like to have on that slice of hard drive. Given that previous public betas have been over 10GB in size, I’d suggest at least 30GB to be safe.)
  • Now that you have another volume (or partition), you can choose to install the beta to that instead of your main drive.
  • To switch between volumes or partitions, you’ll need to restart the machine and hold down the Option key during startup.