macOS 12 Monterey is coming to Mac later this year and we’re excited! Apple has revealed the details of many of the new features coming to Macs with the new OS update, and we can’t wait to install it (read about what’s coming in macOS Monterey). But before Monterey arrives, there are a few things we recommend before installing.
Not only should you prepare your Mac for Monterey, but it’s good practice to run these checks on your Mac every time you update the operating system. We recommend that you follow the steps below to make sure your Mac is ready for the new operating system as this will minimize the risk of problems during or after the update.
How to prepare a Mac for an operating system update
We recommend that you don’t jump right in and install new software right away – by that we mean as soon as Apple releases it. No matter how strict Apple’s testing process is, problems with the initial downloads inevitably occur. And even when there are no problems, often Apple’s servers are overloaded when everyone is in a rush to update, which can really slow down the process. Therefore, we recommend that you first keep the horses and clean and prepare them.
However, there are a few things you should check before downloading a new version of your Mac operating system at any time. So before you start updating macOS on your Mac – at any time – we recommend that you first read the information below. After the update, you are less likely to have problems and you will thank us for it.
Here are the steps to follow when updating your Mac to the latest version of macOS. Each step (except the last two) is discussed below.
- Check for problems with a required version of macOS.
- Check that your Mac – and software – are supported.
- Make sure you have enough space on your Mac. The Big Sur beta installer file was 10GB, which was huge, but when Big Sur launched we found we needed even more space – in some cases people couldn’t update unless they had around 40GB of free space!
- Make sure your Mac is healthy.
- Back up your Mac.
- Make sure you are logged into iCloud.
- Make sure you are on a trusted network.
- Update to the latest version of the current version of macOS.
- Download the macOS installer you need.
- Install macOS on your Mac computer.
As for actually downloading the installer and installing the macOS update, I recommend this story: How to update macOS: Update to Big Sur and Monterey.
Do I need to clean my Mac?
Some Mac users may wonder if they should clean their Mac before installing a major OS update. Some people like a clean install as this can minimize upgrade problems and give them a clean slate to work with. But there’s really no good reason to clean your Mac first, unless you’re already having issues with your Mac that can’t be repaired (see step 4 below for tips on caring for your Mac).
If you want to perform a clean install, we have tips here: How to clean up your macOS Big Sur, Catalina, or earlier installation.
Step 1: Check for problems with the macOS version
Depending on the version of macOS you are using, the latest version of macOS can be found in System Preferences> Software Upstate or, in older versions of macOS, you must open the Mac App Store to find the macOS version you need. But before you start downloading the software, you need to check if you should install it.
It’s wise to research the version of macOS you’re looking for to be sure there are no reasons to avoid installing it. For example, there may be reports of people having trouble with the installation, or there may be software bugs. Apple tends to fix gaps and issues with macOS updates quickly, but they do sneak by every now and then, so it’s always a good idea to check people out for issues.
Here we have detailed information on the latest version of macOS Big Sur. We also have a complete list of Mac OS X and macOS versions.
Step 2: Make sure your Mac and software are supported
Accordingly, you should check that your Mac will actually run the version of macOS you want to install – and that you will actually be able to take advantage of the new features you like the most.
While you won’t be able to install a version of macOS that’s not supported by your Mac – it won’t appear in Software Updates or the Mac App Store – there are occasions where a version of macOS will be available to you, but your Mac won’t be able to use all the new features on offer, and worse, installing the update will result in you losing access to the Mac features you currently rely on.
Apple restricts Big Sur to relatively new Macs, and the same goes for Monterey. You can check if your Mac is supported here: Can my Mac get Big Sur? and can my Mac get Monterey? Should you also check which Monterey features will work on my Mac?
Another thing to check is software compatibility. Read: Which applications do not work on Catalina and Big Sur, and which applications do not work on the Mac M1. Don’t update your Mac just to discover that your version of Photoshop is no longer working.
If your Mac isn’t supported, that doesn’t mean you can’t run this version of macOS – it’s a little more complicated (and risky). Read: How to install macOS Big Sur on an old, unsupported Mac.
Step 3: Make sure you have enough space
Apple suggests you should have 20GB of free disk space on your Mac before installing a new version of macOS – although you may not need that much.
Overall, we recommend that you always have 10% of your Mac’s total space for free as it avoids problems.
When it comes to upgrading to Big Sur, we found the space requirement was greater than ever. Despite Big Sur apparently having 12.2 GB, our Mac demanded that we had 35 GB of free space before it would install. Read: Don’t bother upgrading to Big Sur if you have a 128GB Mac.
If you’re lacking the necessary space, read this for tips on what to delete: How to free up space on your Mac, you can also find How to Delete Mac Other Storage Space Useful.
Step 4: Make sure your Mac is healthy
You should also make sure your Mac is fully functional before installing a major system update.
Open Disk Utility (w / Applications / Utilities), select your startup disk from the list on the left, click the First Aid tab on the right, then click Verify. If Disk Utility detects problems, you will have to boot from a different volume to perform the actual repair using the Repair Disk button.
Boot into Recovery Mode (holding Command + R while booting) and use Disk Utility to perform the recommended repairs.
You can also run Apple Hardware Test (for Macs older than June 2013) or Apple Diagnostics (for Macs from June 2013 or newer). Both tests check your Mac for other hardware issues like bad RAM.
Read more about using Disk Utility to repair your Mac
Step 5: Back up your Mac
Before you do any major update on your Mac – and especially if you’re installing a beta – you should back up your Mac and do other cleanup tasks, which we’ll cover below.
Luckily, Apple makes it easy to back up your Mac with Time Machine, so there’s no excuse not to back up Time Machine before installing a new version of macOS. We have this article on how to back up a Mac with Time Machine. We also have a guide on how to back up your Mac.
Step 6: Login to iCloud
iCloud is tightly integrated with many of Apple’s system apps and services. Make sure you’re logged into iCloud before starting the update and everything should be going smoothly.
Step 7: Make sure you are on a trusted network
We advise you to make sure you’re on a trusted network – so avoid downloading software in hotels, coffee shops, or other public networks as you don’t know what may be lurking there.
If you download and install software, we advise you to do so at home, work, or study place rather than at a hotel chain or coffee shop. You’ll likely find that downloading is much faster – and downloading at home, or it could mean you can connect your Mac to the network instead of relying on wireless download speeds (which could mean downloads take much longer!)
To find out how to protect your Mac from security vulnerabilities, read How to Stop Your iPhone, iPad, or Mac From Hacking, and our Mac Security Tips.
Step 8: Update the software to the latest version
Before upgrading to a new version of macOS, make sure you have installed the latest updates to the version of macOS you are currently using. There will be software updates available from time to time, for example to improve stability, and there is always a chance that you may have a problem updating to a new version of the Mac operating system if that essential update has not been pre-installed. previous version, so do your homework first.
You should also make sure you have updated third-party apps as well. These updates may include changes required to upgrade to the latest version of macOS, and if you don’t run the update, they may not work properly after updating.
To update apps purchased from the Mac App Store, launch the Mac App Store app and click the Updates button in the toolbar. Then click on Update All by simply entering your Apple ID and password when prompted.
For apps purchased elsewhere, you’ll need to manually install updates. You can check for updates from the application menu, for example in Microsoft Word it is the case of clicking Help> Check for Updates.
As we mentioned above, it’s important to check compatibility with third-party apps before updating macOS. That way, you’ll be instantly ready to go, instead of getting frustrated with your favorite apps and add-ons not working.
If you need more help updating your Mac app, read How to update all your Mac apps.
Now that you’ve done your homework, you should be safe to install the required version of macOS. Now read: How to update macOS: Update to Big Sur and Monterey.
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