MacOS Big Sur Beta Download Now Available
Apple has released the first beta version of MacOS Big Sur to Mac users who are enrolled in the developer beta access program.
MacOS Big Sur beta includes a redesigned user interface appearance, along with a variety of new features including adding Control Center to the Mac, the ability to run iPhone and iPad apps directly on the Mac, new Safari features, adding features to the Messages app, and much more. Because the release is in beta, features and other aspects of the operating system may change before the final version is released later in the year for general public consumption.
While dev betas are intended for software developers, anyone can technically enroll in the Apple developer beta program and gain access to macOS Big Sur beta 1, along with betas of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7. Signing up for the developer beta program requires an annual membership fee however, so more casual users are likely better off waiting until the macOS Big Sur public beta is available in the coming weeks, which is free.
Downloading MacOS Big Sur Developer Beta
For anyone actively enrolled in the Apple developer beta program, the macOS Big Sur developer beta profile can be downloaded via the developer site on Apple.com:
Getting MacOS Big Sur beta requires downloading an access utility which places the developer beta profile on the Mac.
After you have installed the beta profile, the macOS Big Sur beta shows as available via Software Update.
Choosing to update from Software Update then downloads the macOS Big Sur beta installer in the /Applications folder.
Like all software updates, installing macOS Big Sur beta requires a reboot to complete.
MacOS Big Sur is apparently officially versioned as macOS 11, but arrives as a beta download versioned as macOS 10.16. This may change by the time the public beta comes around, or in a future release, and it’s unclear why the versioning is not consistent.
Beta system software is notoriously unreliable and buggy, therefore running macOS Big Sur beta is only appropriate for advanced technical users.
Always backup a Mac before installing any system software, and particularly before experimenting with beta software. If you have not already done so, setting up Time Machine backups for Mac is easy and well worth doing.
As mentioned earlier, if you do bother to enroll in the Apple Developer membership program to get macOS Big Sur beta, you will also gain access to download iOS 14 beta for iPhone and iPod touch, and ipadOS 14 beta for iPad too, along with betas of watchOS and tvOS.