Ready for a new version of the Apple Macintosh operating system? That’s good, because the newest version of macOS (formerly known as OS X) is out in beta, and it brings with it a whole slew of new features. Best of all, you can install it right now.
First, if you’re scratching your head wondering what we’re talking about when we say “macOS,” then you probably didn’t hear that Apple has changed the name from OS X to more accurately reflect the platform: iOS for i-devices, tvOS for AppleTV, and watchOS for Apple Watch. Thus, macOS is for–you guessed it–Macs.
If you want to try out macOS, then you can install it before its official release in the fall. But you should know full well going into it that it’s beta software, so it’s bound to have issues. If you like your software stable and complete, then don’t install this OS.
Also, if you do decide to take the plunge, make sure you back up your data first! Anything can happen, and while it probably will not, you don’t want to be the odd user who has that one isolated problem that hoses your stuff, so take the time right now before you even download the macOS installer to back everything up.
Step One: Grab the Installer
To begin, head on over to Apple’s Beta Software Program page and sign up with your Apple ID.
If you don’t have an Apple ID, then you’ll be given an opportunity to create one. Otherwise, just use the one you use with your Mac
Before you proceed, you may be required to enter a verification code, typically texted to your phone, if you have 2-factor authentication enabled.
On the page that says “Guide for Public Betas”, make sure you click on the macOS box.
Then scroll down to section “2” and click on your redemption code or the “Redeem Code” button.
You’ll then be whisked to the App Store where you’ll need to redeem your code (if it doesn’t do it automatically, you’ll need to manually enter it) and then sign in to your Apple ID account.
Once you’ve signed in, the Sierra beta will be downloaded to your machine. You can check on its progress via Launchpad.
Step Two: Run the Installer
The macOS installer will begin automatically. If it doesn’t, double-click on it in Launchpad or the Finder in the Applications folder.
However, before you install the macOS beta, you need to back up your stuff (yes, I’m saying it again). If you decide you don’t want to install the macOS beta at this time, you can restart the installer later from your Applications folder.
As you go through the installer prompts, you’ll be asked to once again make sure you’ve backed up your data, this is your last chance. If you’re good to go, then just click “Continue” to proceed.
Before the installer can finish, you’ll need to enter your administrator username and password.
Once the installer is done doing its thing, it’s time to restart. Click the “Restart” button to proceed.
That’s it. Once you commit to it, the installation process will take around 30 minutes, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and put your feet up or go run some errands.
Step Three: Set Up Your New Installation
Once the macOS Sierra beta is installed on your computer, you still need to set it up. You’re likely to encounter any or all of the following screens, though it may depend upon whether you’re setting Sierra up with a new or existing user account.
If you don’t see all the following screens, just keep going until you are greeted by your desktop.
First, sign in with your Apple ID so you can use iCloud, the App Store, iMessage and so forth. Alternatively, you can skip this step and do it later.
Make sure you agree to Apple’s terms and conditions. You can’t use Sierra unless you do.
You might be asked to set up an iCloud Keychain. If you’re setting up iCloud for the first time, you’ll probably see this screen, if you already have an iCloud account associated with your system account, then you’re probably already got this covered.
macOS Sierra allows you to sync your Desktop and Documents folders to iCloud. This means you can access them from iCloud.com as well as from another Mac, provided you sign in with the same iCloud account.
You can skip this step for now if you’re unsure, or you don’t think you have enough storage capacity on your iCloud drive.
Finally, you’ll get the opportunity to enable Siri, the big new feature in macOS Sierra. If you are already familiar with Siri on your iPhone, then you may want to enable it. If you decide not to at this time, you can always turn it on at a later point in the System Preferences.
Once you see the following screen, you’re almost home free.
Finally, you may be asked if you want to use the Feedback Assistant to provide Apple with feedback regarding bugs and features. This is totally optional, but if you’re keen on participating fully in the beta program, then you might want to sign up.
Once your desktop is up and running, you’ve successfully installed and set up the macOS beta and are ready for whatever it throws at you.
Don’t forget to keep your system updated by checking the App Store for future updates. macOS should be finalized by Fall 2016, so in between now and then, expect to see several more betas.