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Although Apple has scheduled MacOS Mojave to release this fall, you don't have to wait to check out Apple's upcoming desktop OS: Apple released the first Mojave public beta today.

If you want to download and install the MacOS beta, here's what you need to do.

Apple works hard to make major software updates run error-free. But it can take a few hours to download and then install a big software release, so it's wise to do some prep work to ensure everything goes smoothly -- and then be ready if something goes south.

While Mojave doesn't offer any groundbreaking features, there is a lot to like about the update, from the systemwide focus on security and Safari's stance on browser fingerprinting to the end-to-end encryption of Facebook and even the first iOS apps on the Mac, including Voice Memos, News, and Stocks. And who doesn't want to check out the new dark mode?

Check your hardware

To start, make sure your Mac can even run MacOS Mojave, either the public beta or the final release. Head's up: Where MacOS High Sierra could run on Macs dating back to the last decade, Mojave skips ahead a handful of years, to Macs from mid-2012 and later, with one exception.

Here are the machines that can run the Mojave public beta:

  • iMac, late 2012 or newer
  • iMac Pro, late 2017 or newer
  • MacBook, early 2015 or newer
  • MacBook Air, mid 2012 or newer
  • MacBook Pro, mid 2012 or newer
  • Mac Mini, late 2012 or newer
  • Mac Pro, late 2013 or newer; mid 2010 and mid 2012, with a Metal-capable GPU recommended

If you need to check which Mac you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu: Your Mac model and year should be listed, along with processor, memory, and other specs.

Next, check that you have enough storage space and memory to install the new OS and then run it.

Looking back to last year, the High Sierra public beta download weighed a bit under 6GB, and Apple recommended then that you have at least 15GB of storage space to install it.

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What about memory? Apple recommended a minimum of 2GB of memory for High Sierra. Adding memory can be an affordable way to make your Mac more responsive, if your hardware is upgradable. If you are working with 2GB, now may be the time to add more.

Again, find details about your storage and memory by selecting About This Mac from the Apple menu up in the top-left corner of your screen.

Update third-party apps

While you're in the mood to update, check that you have the latest version of your apps. Click the Updates tab in the Mac App Store to see if you have any updates available. And after you've installed Mojave, check the App Store again, as you may find apps available just for the new OS.

Know your Apple ID and sign up for the public beta

If you are a Mac user, you probably have an Apple ID. If not, get one, because you need it to enroll in Apple's public beta program, if you want to check out the early Mojave builds, and then download the final release from the Mac App Store this fall.

The Mojave installer may also ask for it during the iCloud setup process, so keep your ID handy.

Back everything up

While major Mac updates almost always run without a hitch, you always hear about a few catastrophic installation failures each year, so you're crazy to not have a current backup of the contents of your Mac storage before you move to the public beta or to the final release of Mojave.

It doesn't have to be a chore. Apple makes it easy to back up important files through Time Machine. For more control, Carbon Copy Cloner is a solid and easy-to-use backup utility. For more about backing up your Mac, see our Mac backup guide.

Seriously consider where you want to install the public beta

Sure, you can install the Mojave public beta on your primary Mac. But you'd be in much better shape if something goes wrong with the public beta by keeping your current OS intact and creating a bootable drive by installing the public beta on an external hard drive or flash drive or even on a separate partition. That way, you can boot off the partition or external drive, and if you need to return to your current OS setup, rolling back from the pre-release software will be much easier.

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Takeways

1. The MacOS public beta is now available.

2. Before you install, check that your system can run the update and you have a current back up.

3. Enroll your Mac in the public beta program.

4. Download and install the public beta from the Mac App Store.

Also see:

Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for Download.com. He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.