The MacOS Catalina public beta is live. Here’s how to download it

everything apple announced at wwdc 2019 macos catalina
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re eager to try out some of the new features that Apple has planned for its next major MacOS update, known as Catalina, you can now download it from Apple’s Apple Beta Software Program. It’s open to any Apple user with a valid AppleID. The official public release in September of this year will likely prove to be more stable, but if you like your operating system cutting edge and are a little persnickety, then you can dive in now and get ahead of the game.

If you want to learn more about MacOS Catalina first, you can read all about new features like Sidecar and Project Catalyst, here.

Step 1: Join the Apple Beta Software Program

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If you’re haven’t already, you need to sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program. It gives you access to the latest large-scale beta operating system releases for iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and TVOS that are stable enough to make it out of the developer-only beta track. Test driving public beta software lets you tap into advanced capabilities in certain apps and fast-tracks your access to Apple technical support, as beta testers allow them to polish their software before the official release.

Best of all, the Apple Beta Software Program is free to join. If you are curious about how it works and what to expect, you can learn more from the program’s FAQ page.

Step 2: Backup your Mac

If you have anything important on your Mac, we’d recommend backing it up to an external drive or cloud storage service. Updating to a new and somewhat unstable version of MacOS carries with it some risk of running into problems during the installation process. If you’ve backed everything up beforehand, then reverting to the old install is quick and easy.

If you need help backing up your Mac, follow these step by step instructions.

Step 3: Download MacOS Catalina

If you’ve made sure you’ve backed everything up and signed up for the Beta Software Program, it’s time to actually download and install MacOS 10.15 Catalina. Head to the Beta Software Program login page, sign in with your AppleID, and select the Download button. Scroll through the list of potential downloads until you find MacOS 10.15 Catalina Beta 1.

Select the Download link next to it to begin the download.

Step 4: Install the update

Once it’s finished, open the newly downloaded package file ending in the “.pkg” file extension and follow the onscreen instructions. The update utility will then grab Catalina from Apple servers. Once fully downloaded, it will prompt you to start the update. If you want to perform it on your main drive (only recommended if you’ve fully backed it up first) then follow the on-screen instructions and when prompted, select Install to begin.

If you’d rather install the new update to a different partition, when given the option, select Show all disks, and then choose the partition you want to install it on before continuing.

Note: If you’re installing this on a MacBook, we’d recommend plugging in the power cord if you haven’t already. You don’t want a dead battery to interrupt your install, as this can seriously corrupt your data.

Once the install is finished, you’ll have a new MacOS Catalina installation that you can use to your heart’s content.

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