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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.

MacOS Big Sur is now available to download.
Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

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. 

Now playing: 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.

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