The next version of the Mac operating system, macOS 12 Monterey, will officially be released this fall. But you can install and run Monterey now by joining Apple’s Public Beta program. Interested? Here’s what you need to know about the Public Beta.
Updated 08/31/21: macOS 12 Monterey Public Beta 6 has been released, following the release of iOS 15 beta 8 earlier on Tuesday.
What is the macOS Monterey Public Beta?
The current version of the Mac operating system is macOS 11 Big Sur. The next version is macOS 12 Monterey. Apple makes a public beta version of Big Sur available for people to try out, test against their favorite software, and report bugs to the company.
Since this is beta software, there’s a good chance it could cause problems on your Mac. You may encounter frequent freezes and crashes, or your apps may not work. Don’t count on it being stable enough to use all the time.
Should you install the macOS Monterey Public Beta?
You should not install the beta on a production Mac or any other Mac you depend on and can’t afford to have out of commission. If you’re worried that a beta flaw will prevent you from using your Mac, don’t install it. Install it on a Mac that you consider a secondary computer.
If you do decide to try the beta, you can provide Apple with valuable feedback and get a look at the new features.
What should you do before installing it?
Back up your Mac. You can use Time Machine or whatever backup setup you already have. You need a backup you can revert to in case you need to stop using the beta and need to restore your system.
How to install the macOS Monterey Public Beta
Before you can install the new operating system, you must be enrolled in the Public Beta program. You can do this through Apple’s Public Beta program website. In the Guide section of the website, click on the “macOS” tab and then the “enroll your Mac” link in the Get Started section.
This should take you to the “Enroll you devices” webpage. Follow the instructions. In step 2, you will download the “macOS Public Beta Access Utility” which will enroll your Mac into the program. Then the utility will launch Software Update to download and install the Monterey beta.
The installation takes a while. It can take about 40 minutes or longer, depending on your internet connection speed.
Which Macs are compatible with macOS Monterey?
- MacBook (2016 and later)
- MacBook Air (Early 2015 and later)
- MacBook Pro (Early 2015 and later)
- Mac mini (Late 2014 and later)
- iMac (Late 2015 and later)
- iMac Pro (Late 2017 and later)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013 and later)
How to uninstall the macOS Monterey beta
If you try out the beta and decide later that you don’t want to use it anymore and want to go back to macOS Big Sur, Apple has instructions on how to unenroll from the public beta. You’ll need to use a Time Machine backup to restore your system back to the OS before Big Sur was installed. Apple also has instructions on how to restore your system if you want to reformat your Mac and start over from scratch.
What happens after the final version ships?
You can continue to use the public beta. You’ll get beta versions of Monterey updates when they become available. If you want to get rid of the beta and install the final version of Monterey, you can download the macOS Monterey installer in the App Store when it becomes available in the fall.
Got more questions about macOS Monterey?
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Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he's worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, and TechTV.