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How to download and install macOS 12 Monterey public beta

You can try the cutting-edge version of macOS right now

WWDC 2021 screenshot
(Image: © Apple)

If you want cutting-edge software on your Mac, here's how to download and install the macOS 12 Monterey public beta right now.

Apple announced macOS 12 Monterey at its WWDC 2021 keynote, and while it won't be as big an update as its predecessor, macOS 11 Big Sur, there's still plenty of new features coming when the final version launches towards the end of 2021.

Downloading and installing this public beta version of macOS 12 Monterey will allow you to try out this new operating system early, but it won’t include all of the features of the final release – and will possibly come with bugs and errors while the software is being finalized.

If you don’t want your Mac or MacBook crashing at random times while you’re working, we’d strongly recommend waiting until the final stable release of macOS 12 Monterey later this year, or even wait for a few weeks after that to be entirely certain there are no bugs or issues.

Unlike the earlier Developer Preview of macOS 12 Monterey, which required you to enroll in the Apple Developer Program for $99 (about £69, AU$140), the public beta is completely free.

Can your Mac run macOS 12 Monterey?

Before you begin to download the macOS 12 Monterey public beta, you should make sure your Mac can run the software. 

These are the Macs that you can install macOS 12 Monterey on: 

  • iMac late 2015 and later
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later
  • MacBook Air early 2015 and later
  • MacBook Pro early 2015 and later
  • Mac Pro late 2013 and later
  • Mac mini late 2014 and later
  • MacBook early 2016 and later

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Back up your Mac before upgrading to macOS 12 Monterey public beta

Whenever you upgrade your operating system – and especially when you’re trying out an early beta version – we highly recommend backing up the files on your Mac, so if anything goes wrong you can quickly restore your machine to its previous working order.

Before you download and install the macOS 12 Monterey public beta, make sure your Mac is backed up. For information on how to do this, head over to our ultimate guide to backing up your Mac.

Screenshot of the Apple Beta Software Program web page

(Image credit: Apple)

How to join the Apple Beta Software Program

To install the public beta of macOS Monterey, you first need to sign up to the Apple Beta Software Program

On the website, click 'Sign up' then sign into your Apple ID. You'll need to accept the Apple Beta Software Program Agreement (by clicking 'Accept'), and you'll now be signed up.

macOS 12 Monterey

(Image credit: Apple)

How to download the macOS 12 Monterey public beta

Once you’ve signed up to the Apple Beta Software Program you should get a notification in your Mac that a new public beta is available.

Open up System Preferences and then select ‘Software Update’. The macOS 12 Monterey public beta should be there. 

Click 'Update'. If it doesn't find the update, restart your Mac, open the Mac App Store and click 'Updates'.

Click on the public beta, and follow the instructions to download and install it.

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Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.