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Download MacOS Big Sur now; here's how

Apple's latest operating system MacOS Big Sur is now available for download. Here's how to get it on your Mac.

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Alison DeNisco Rayome Managing Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome
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MacOS Big Sur is now available to download.

Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple's latest operating system MacOS Big Sur is now available for download as a free software update for all users, so long as your Mac is compatible. The newly designed operating system includes major updates to the  Safari  web browser, and refreshed Maps and Messages apps (we've rounded up some of the best new MacOS Big Sur features and how to use them here). 

MacOS Big Sur was first revealed at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. At a virtual event on Nov. 10, Apple unveiled new Mac computers featuring Apple's M1 chips running the latest version of Big Sur, which is optimized to run on these machines. Apps will run faster and more smoothly, Apple executives said during the event, and you'll also see increased device security. 

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Watch this: MacOS Big Sur: Check out these 5 great new features now

How to download and install MacOS Big Sur

If you want to download MacOS Big Sur, follow these steps:

1. Back up your Mac, just to be safe. You don't want to risk losing everything when you upgrade. 

2. Make sure that you are running OS X 10.9 or later, and have 4GB of memory available, and 35.5GB available storage. 

3. On your Mac, go to apple.com/macos/big-sur. Or, go to System Preferences > Software Update, and find MacOS Big Sur. Either way, click Upgrade Now. The download will start immediately, but may take while -- for my MacBook Air, it estimated about an hour. 

Once you download and install the update and restart your computer, you'll be running on MacOS Big Sur.

One word of warning: Some users reported slow or failed downloads last week. But as of Tuesday, Apple's system status page had the update marked as "available."

You can also download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 now, too, if you haven't already.

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Watch this: Apple's new M1 chip engineered for MacOS Big Sur