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MacOS Monterey: How to download Apple's new software once it arrives

We're still waiting to learn the official release date for Apple's MacOS 12. Here's how you'll download the new operating system when it's available.

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You can run MacOS Monterey on Apple's new, colorful iMacs.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The latest version of Apple's Mac operating system, MacOS Monterey, is likely on its way soon. Though we're still waiting to learn a final release date for Apple's new software (also known as MacOS 12), we likely will find out in October, when Apple is expected to hold a Mac-focused event. (In the meantime, here's everything Apple unveiled at its iPhone event in September.)

Until then, we aren't exactly sure when MacOS Monterey will be available to download. Last year, MacOS Big Sur arrived in November, while the year before, MacOS Catalina arrived in October. But whenever it does launch, we've got instructions for how you'll download and install MacOS Monterey to your device. 

New MacOS Big Sur features include AirPlay and Universal Control, which will allow you to use a single mouse and keyboard to move between your Mac and iPad for a seamless experience. The OS also adds in several of the new features found in iOS 15, like spatial audio in FaceTime and Apple's Focus feature.

Here's how to download MacOS Monterey, once it rolls out to the public. We've also got instructions for how to download the public beta version in the meantime below. 

Now playing: Watch this: How to install MacOS Monterey public beta
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How do I download and install MacOS Monterey once it's generally available?

1. Make sure your Mac is compatible with MacOS Monterey

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

3. On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Software Update, and find MacOS Big Monterey. Click Upgrade Now. The download will start immediately, but may take while. 

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

How do I download and install the MacOS Monterey public beta?

Mac OS at WWDC 2021

With MacOS Monterey's Universal Control feature, you'll be able to work seamlessly between different screens.

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

If you just can't wait for the final release, here's how to get the MacOS Monterey public beta up and running on your machine. Note that you should never download a beta version on your primary device, as they're often buggy -- we recommend only doing so if you have a separate tester device available. 

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Brett Pearce/CNET

1Back up your Mac, just to be safe. 

2. On your Mac, go to beta.apple.com.

3. Sign in with your Apple ID and select MacOS from the list of programs.

4. In the Getting Started section, click Enroll your Mac

5. On the next page, click on the blue button labeled Download the MacOS Public Beta Access Utility.

6. Open the downloaded file and follow the prompts.

7. After the utility is installed, check for a software update using the update tool in System Preferences and then follow the prompts to download and install it. 

Once you restart your computer, you'll be running on the MacOS Monterey public beta. 

We've also got instructions for how to how to download iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.

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