How To Install The macOS Big Sur Beta

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This past week Apple unveiled macOS Big Sur, the upcoming release of macOS. Big Sur is not only one of the biggest macOS updates in recent years, but all of Mac history. It features a complete design overhaul as well as lays the foundation for the new direction of macOS. It’s packed with exciting features and changes that make it tough to wait for the update to release this Fall.

If you’re one of many who feels that they can’t wait, this article is for you. Below, we’ll detail exactly how to install the macOS Big Sur beta on your Mac.

First, Back Up Your Mac

First things first, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Back up your Mac! The odds are pretty good that, unlike an iPad or iPhone, your Mac is a work device. Which means you have files, apps, and tools on there that you can’t afford to lose. When installing and using beta software, there’s a high risk of losing segments of your data, if not all of it. So don’t take this advice lightly unless you have no attachment to the data on your Mac.

Fortunately, backing up your Mac is exceptionally easy. There are two ways to go about it. The first is to use iCloud. Pay for whichever tier of iCloud you need and move all of the files you want to keep onto your iCloud drive. Just keep in mind that this won’t completely protect these files or your Mac itself, it’ll just save your files if your Mac goes awol.

The second and much more reliable method of backing up your data is to use Time Machine. This does require investing in an HDD or SSD, but speaking from experience, it’s well worth it. Just plug a Time-Machine-compatible hard drive into your Mac and start backing everything up.

How To Install The macOS Big Sur Developer Beta

Step 1: Enroll In The Apple Developer Program

Once you’ve backed up your Mac, you’ll need to enroll in Apple’s Developer Program to download the developer beta of macOS 11. The Developer Program has a fee of $99/year, so it’s best to only enroll in it if you’re a developer. The free public beta of Big Sur will be available sometime in July.

With Apple Developer membership in tow, you’re ready to start installing Big Sur on your Mac.

Step 2: Download The Big Sur Beta Profile

After you’ve enrolled and logged into your developer account, open the same page in Safari on the device you want to install macOS Big Sur on. Click the Discover tab, then click Downloads at the left of the screen. You should see the macOS Big Sur beta profile at the top of this page. This profile is essentially your access key to the macOS Big Sur beta – it’s what tells your computer to download macOS 11 early.

Click Install Profile and allow Safari to download the file. Once downloaded, find the macOSDeveloperBetaAccessUtility.pkg file in your Downloads folder and double-click it. Follow the on-screen prompts to install it on your Mac.

Step 3: Install The Big Sur Beta

Once you install the macOS 11 developer beta profile, you should quickly get a red badge in System Preferences letting you know that you have a software update. To install the beta, simply open System Preferences, click Software Update, and install the update as you would any other macOS update.

And that’s it! Your Mac will go through the installation process, restarting your Mac in the process. Once it’s finished you’ll be on the developer preview of macOS Big Sur.

How To Install The macOS Big Sur Public Beta

At the time of writing, the public beta for macOS Big Sur is not currently available and isn’t expected to be available until mid-July at the soonest. So if you’re reading this before then, the only way to download the Big Sur beta is with a developer account. But, for those who are reading this once the public beta is available, here’s how to install it.

To download macOS public betas, you need to enroll in Apple’s Beta Program. It’s completely free and only requires an iCloud account. Once you’ve enrolled (using the same iCloud account that’s tied to the Mac you want to beta test with) use this link to find and Download the macOS Big Sur public beta.

Once downloaded, find the macOSDeveloperBetaAccessUtility.pkg file in your Downloads folder, double-click it, and follow the on-screen prompts. From there, you can follow the above section Step 3: Install The Big Sur Beta to install the public beta on your Mac.

FAQs

What is macOS Big Sur?

macOS Big Sur is the upcoming release of macOS, the software that runs your Mac. It’s also known as macOS 11, marking a big milestone in the history of Mac computers.

When will the macOS Big Sur Public Beta be available?

There’s no official release date for the macOS Big Sur Public Beta yet, though it’s expected to be available in mid-July of 2020.

When will macOS Big Sur be released?

The final version of macOS Big Sur will probably be released sometime in the Fall of 2020, though it could potentially be delayed if the software isn’t ready by then. This does happen on rare occasions with macOS as the software is fairly complicated.

What’s new in macOS Big Sur?

Like all of the recent software announcements from Apple, macOS Big Sur includes lots of new features for Macs. However, the real newness of Big Sur is the design overhaul. It’s getting a much more iOS-inspired design that will unify iPadOS, iOS, and macOS substantially. Beyond that, Apple has taken great leaps to increase the security of Big Sur, bring more sophisticated Messages features to the Mac, and a brand new Control Center for Mac.

You can read more about the new features in macOS Big Sur here.

Is the macOS Big Sur beta stable?

As of now, the macOS Big Sur beta is not stable. Though many are having luck with the beta, just as many are having frequent crashes, problems with most third-party apps, difficulty installing new apps, and so on. It is not recommended that you download a beta of Big Sur just yet unless you’re a developer. The software should be more stable by mid to late August.

Will my Mac run macOS Big Sur?

macOS Big Sur will be available on all of the following Macs:

  • MacBook 2015 and later
  • MacBook Air 2013 and later
  • MacBook Pro 2013 and later
  • Mac mini 2014 and later
  • iMac 2014 and later
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later
  • Mac Pro 2013 and later

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