You can install the macOS 10.15 beta on your Mac today to test out the new macOS update and all the new macOS Catalina features before the public release date later this fall. Apple offers this early access so that developers can test apps and IT professionals can check how the beta works in their company.

Apple offers two macOS Catalina betas, a developer and a public beta. The developer beta is out today, and you can install it on your Mac even without a developer account, but if you are a general user the public beta is going to be more your speed.

We’ll cover how to make a safe backup of your Mac that you can go back to if you have any problems, as well as how to download the macOS Catalina beta and then how to install it with two different options depending on your setup.

How to Backup Your Mac The Right Way

Make sure you backup and then keep that backup from being overwritten with a macOS 10.15 backup.

Make sure you backup and then keep that backup from being overwritten with a macOS 10.15 backup.

Before you install the macOS Catalina beta, you need to backup your Mac and you should make sure that you create an second backup. This essentially freezes a snapshot in time that you can go back to if you decide to downgrade from macOS 10.15 to macOS Mojave. Personally I prefer to keep this backup on a seperate USB hard drive, but you can put it anywhere you want. If you have enough space on your backup drive you may not need to do this, but better safe than sorry.

  1. Plug your external hard drive in to the Mac.
  2. Click on the Apple icon the upper left.
  3. Choose System Preferences in the menu.
  4. Find and click on the Time Machine option.
  5. Click Add or Remove Backup Disk.
  6. Choose the new disk and click use disk.
  7. Allow the Time Machine to start a backup.

Once this is done, unplug the backup and keep it in a safe place. This will give you an easy way to go back to macOS Mojave if you have problems with the macOS Catalina beta.

How to Download the macOS Catalina Beta

The official way to download the macOS Catalina beta is to get an Apple Developer account for $99, which gets you access to all of the developer betas for a year. This includes macOS 10.15, iOS 13, tvOS and watchOS. If you go this route, you can download the macOS Developer Beta Access Utility directly from Apple. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Go to the Apple Developer Website.
  2. Click on Develop and then on Downloads.
  3. Sign in with your Apple ID.
  4. Scroll until you see the macOS 10.15 beta 1 listing.
  5. Click on Download to start downloading the macOS Catalina Developer Beta Access Utility.
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If you aren’t an Apple developer, you can find the macOS Catalina Developer Beta Access Utility download on Beta Profiles. This will allow you to directly download the same file without signing up. This is outside of Apple’s terms and conditions, so you may want to simply wait for the public macOS Catalina beta.

Install the Developer Beta Access Utility to install the macOS 10.15 beta.

Install the Developer Beta Access Utility to install the macOS 10.15 beta.

Once you have the file downloaded continue with the directions below;

6. Double click on the macOSDeveloperBetaAccessUtility.pkg.
7. Wait for the installer to finish and open the Mac App Store Update section.

From here, you should see the macOS 10.15 installer that you can download to your Mac. When it finishes downloading it will prompt you to install the beta, which we cover below. There are a few ways to install the macOS 10.15 beta depending on your setup.

How to Install the macOS Catalina Beta

How to install the macOS 10.15 beta.

How to install the macOS 10.15 beta.

If you just want to install the macOS Catalina beta on your Mac as the primary operating system it is a fairly straightforward process. Keep in mind that you should only really do this on a spare device. Once the macOS Catalina developer beta downloads it will prompt you to start the installation. If you cancel it, you can find it in the downloads or in your apps on your Mac.

  1. Once the Installer is running, click Continue.
  2. Agree to the Terms and Conditions.
  3. Click Install.
  4. Follow the on screen instructions to complete the installation.
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Over the next 30-45 minutes your device will restart at least once to complete the macOS 10.15 installation. If it appears to freeze or pause, just wait for it to resume. You should be plugged into power during this process. When your Mac restarts, follow the instructions and if needed sign back in with your Apple ID and Password.

How to Install the macOS Catalina Beta on a Partition

Use a partition to install the macOS 10.15 beta alongside macOS Mojave.

Use a partition to install the macOS 10.15 beta alongside macOS Mojave.

If you don’t have a spare Mac to install the macOS Catalina beta to, the best thing to do is create a partition on your Mac’s hard drive and install it there. This will keep your main macOS Mojave installation in place and make it easy to switch back and forth. You will need to make sure that you have enough space. The minimum amount of space is 30GB, but if you can spare 50GB you will run into fewer issues.

Before you start the installation, you need to make a second partition on your Mac. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Choose your Mac’s drive. (Usually Fusion or Macintosh HD)
  3. Click on the Partition Section.
  4. Click the + button.
  5. Make a Partition that is 30-50GB in size.
  6. Name the Partition.
  7. Click Apply and wait for the changes to save.

If you are already on APFS, which is very likely, you can also just create a new Volume in Disk Utility.

  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Choose your Mac’s drive. (Usually Fusion or Macintosh HD)
  3. Click the + button above Volume.
  4. Name the Volume Beta
  5. Click Create

Now that you have a partition to install the macOS 10.15 beta on, you can go back to the installation options.

  1. Open the macOS Catalina Installer.
  2. Click Continue.
  3. Agree to the terms.
  4. When you see a disk, click Show All Disks.
  5. Click on the Partition you just made.
  6. Click Install.

This process will take some time, but it will complete and you will have a clean installation of macOS Catalina on the partition so that you can test with it without it touching your primary macOS Mojave installation.

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You can use the installation instructions to install the macOS Catalina beta on an external hard drive. This has worked on previous betas, and we will update with more details once we can test it on the macOS 10.15 beta.

When you restart your Mac, you can press and hold the option key, which will bring up a Startup Manager so you can choose if you want to boot into macOS Mojave or macOS Catalina. You can also go into System Preferences -> Startup Disk -> and choose the preferred startup disk if you want to primarily use the macOS 10.15 partition.

How to Leave the macOS Catalina Beta

leave the macOS Catalina beta after you install to another partition.

leave the macOS Catalina beta after you install to another partition.

Once you reboot into the macOS Mojave installation you should leave the macOS Catalina beta program so that you can keep getting macOS Mojave updates. To do this open System Preferences and click on Software Updates. On the left part of this screen, click on Details. When the window pops up, click on Restore Defaults. This will take your macOS Mojave installation out of the beta program, but your other partition still still be in the beta.

If you are leaving because you want to downgrade, you don’t need to do this, just follow these instructions to go back to macOS Mojave.

5 Reasons Not To Install the macOS Catalina Beta & 7 Reasons You Should

Install macOS Catalina Beta for New Features

Install macOS Catalina Beta for New Features

One of the biggest reasons to install the macOS Catalina beta is to test out all of the new macOS features that Apple is adding into this update. 

There are a lot of upgrades that we dive into deeper with some of the specific reasons below, but as an overview there are a range of new features coming to the Mac. 

Some of these are in this beta and others will come in the next few betas. SOme of our favorite new macOS Catalina features include;

  • Using the iPad as an External Display
  • Siri Shortcuts
  • Window Snapping

Apple also adds in cross platform support for iPad apps, which will allow developers to offer their iPad apps on the Mac. This feature won’t fully materialize until this fall, but we could see some limited opportunities for testing from developers looking for feedback. 



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