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How to prepare your Mac for the macOS Big Sur public beta

MacBook lineup
MacBook lineup (Image credit: iMore)

The Big Sur public beta is coming very soon. macOS Big Sur is the next iteration of macOS (we're out of macOS X territory, folks) that's coming this fall, and it is bringing a brand new design, making it look closer than ever to iOS and iPadOS, as well as a lot of native app changes. It's also the first macOS that will be optimized for Apple's own ARM-based Macs coming later in the year. But before you get started, you should make sure your Mac is ready for the download and installation process.

If you're wondering what macOS Big Sur is all about, make sure to check our FAQ:

What to know before you start: Is my Mac eligible for the macOS Big Sur public beta?

macOS Big Sur will run on the following devices:

  • MacBook (2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (2013 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
  • Mac mini (2014 or newer)
  • iMac (2014 or newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (2013 or newer)

Step 1: Clean up your Mac

Make sure your Mac isn't overstuffed with unnecessary extra files. Thanks to Optimized storage in macOS, you can quickly clean up your Mac with just a few steps.

Step 2: Back up your Mac

Seriously. Back it up. Even if you have scheduled backups every night, just push a manual backup before you get started. It's the right thing to do. The easiest way to back up your Mac is with Time Machine, but there are plenty of other ways you can back it up that work just as well.

Step 3: Decide how you are going to download the macOS Big Sur public beta

You can download and install the macOS public beta directly onto your main drive, but you may discover that some of your favorite apps aren't supported or aren't ready yet. One of the best ways to test out whether you want to run a macOS public beta on your main drive is to partition it and install the new operating system there. This gives you the chance to play around with all the new features without messing with your workflow or productivity.

You can also download the macOS public beta onto a thumb drive so that you can install it on multiple computers without having to re-download each time.

Step 4: Download the macOS public beta

Your Mac is ready to go. Now all you have to do is download and install the macOS public beta over at beta.apple.com (opens in new tab) once it's available.

Updated June 2020: Updated with macOS Big Sur.

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).