Apple has been offering public betas for macOS for a couple of years now as a way for those interested in testing out the upcoming software on their Macs, and providing feedback. If that's you, you'll need to sign up, enroll your Mac, download macOS Sierra, and install it. It's not an overly complicated process, but we're here to walk you through it and, if you need it, a place to get extra help.
Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas. While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.
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- How to make a back up your Mac
- How to register your account for the macOS Sierra public beta
- How to enroll your Mac in the macOS Sierra public beta
- How to install the macOS Sierra public beta
- How to get started with macOS Sierra public beta
How to make a back up of your Mac
Before joining the public beta, you need to make a backup of your Mac. That way, if something goes wrong, of if you're simply not happy and want to revert to OS X El Capitan, you can go right back to where you started.
Even if you back up every night, you'll want to make double, triple sure you're covered. So make a manual backup now. Here's how to do it with Time Machine. Even if you use something different or additional, like SuperDuper!, make sure you manually start a backup now.
- Click on the Time Machine icon in your Mac Menubar.
- Click on Backup now.
Let the backup finish before proceeding.
Note: If you're not adverse to the Terminal, you can also make a bootable El Capitan installer as way to jumpstart reversion, if needed.
How to register your account for the macOS Sierra public beta
If you've already joined a public beta for OS X in the past, you don't need to register again for macOS Sierra. Simply sign in with the same Apple ID. If you've never joined a public beta before, you'll need to start by signing up with your Apple ID.
- Go to beta.apple.com in Safari on your Mac.
- Click on Sign up to get started. (If you've already signed up for a previous public beta, Click on Sign in and skip to "How to enroll your Mac", below.)
- Enter you Apple ID email address and password.
- Click Sign in.
Once you're signed up and signed in, it's time to start downloading.
How to enroll your Mac in the macOS Sierra public beta
Downloading the macOS Sierra public beta is done through the Mac App Store but requires a special code (like a promo or gift code). The code is provided for you on the website, but is also automatically entered for you when you click to begin the process.
- Go to beta.apple.com, if you're not there already.
- Click on the macOS tab, if it's not highlighted already.
- Click the Download macOS Sierra public beta access utility button.
- Open the file from your Downloads window.
- Double-click the package to run the installer.
When the installer is finished downloading, the Mac App Store will automatically open to the Updates section. Click Update to download and install the public beta software. After the software has been downloaded, your Mac will automatically restart.
If the latest public beta does not appear on the Updates list, restart your Mac. Then, open the Mac App Store and click the Updates tab.
The public beta update can take a long time to finish downloading, depending on the size. You can check the status in the Updates tab of the Mac App Store.
How to install the macOS Sierra public beta
The macOS Sierra installer will automatically open when it's downloaded. If it doesn't, or if you prefer to do it later, you open Install macOS Sierra Public Beta at any time via Spotlight or Launchpad, or from the Application folder in the Finder.
- Launch Install macOS Sierra Public Beta app, if it's not launched already.
- Click Continue at the bottom.
- If prompted to make a backup, and you didn't before, click Continue in the dropdown. If you just made a backup, click Cancel.
- Click Continue at the bottom once your backup completes, or if you skipped it.
- Click Agree to accept the licensing terms.
- Click Agree again to confirm.
- Click on the drive you want to install onto (if you have multiple options; most people won't.)
- Click Install.
- Enter you administrator password and click OK.
- Click Restart (if your Mac doesn't restart automatically, or you don't want to wait).
Once your Mac reboots, it'll be running macOS Sierra. There's a brief bit of setup you'll need to go through, however, as the system will have changed enough that it'll need your login to complete the update.
Once that's done, you'll be ready to rock macOS Sierra.
What's new, and what if you don't like it?
And, if you ultimately decide macOS Sierra 10.12.6 isn't for you, you can still revert back to macOS 10.12.5.
Update July 5, 2017: Apple has released macOS Sierra 10.12.6 public beta 6 for members of the Beta Software Program. If you already have the macOS Sierra public beta installed, head to Mac App Store > Updates and download away. If you've been waiting for beta 6 to get started with macOS testing, keep reading and we'll walk you through the set up!
○ FAQ: Apple's beta software
○ Should you run beta software?
○ iOS 14 public beta: The ultimate guide
○ iPadOS 14 public beta: The ultimate guide
○ macOS Big Sur public beta: The ultimate guide
○ iOS 14: Everything you need to know
○ iPadOS 14: Everything you need to know
○ macOS Big Sur: Everything you need to know
○ watchOS 7: Everything you need to know
○ tvOS 14: Everything you need to know
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.