How to install macOS Big Sur correctly without breaking anything?

The final version of macOS Big Sur became available for download yesterday. It’s time to update the software on your Mac.

Depending on the tasks, time, and free space on the drive, this can be done several ways at once.

First, make sure your Mac supports macOS 11.0. You can install the system on the following poppies:

▶ MacBook 2015 or newer;

▶ MacBook Air 2013 or newer;

▶ MacBook Pro Late 2013 or newer;

▶ Mac mini 2014 or newer;

▶ iMac 2014 or newer;

▶ iMac Pro 2017 or newer;

▶ Mac Pro 2013 or newer.

How much space is needed for installation?

Least of all space needed when upgrading from previous beta versions of macOS Big Sur. In this case, the installation files will weigh approximately 3.2 GB, and for a standard installation, you will need at least another 10 GB of free disk space.

If you update the system’s previous version, the installation package will take 12 GB, and the system will ask about 20 more for the Update. If your Mac does not have at least 30 GB before updating, it is better to do a cleaning or do a clean installation of the system, having previously made backups of the necessary data.

You can view the current free disk space on the Apple path – About This Mac – Storage.

Be sure to back up your data before any method of installing or updating macOS. This will save all documents and files in the event of a breakdown or system failure and will also help restore everything you need as quickly as possible if something goes wrong.

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To create backups, you can use the Time Machine system utility or third-party backup posing methods.

How to upgrade to the final version from beta?

If you have previously installed public test versions or builds for developers, the Update to the final version will proceed as a regular update.

You need to update according to the following algorithm:

1. Go to System Preferences – Software Update.

2. Click the Details button and select Default Settings in the dialog box.

This will disconnect you from subscribing to test versions of the system, and the Mac will only be updated to the final public release.

3. Enter the administrator password to confirm the action.

4. Wait until the Update is checked and click the Update Now button.

The update procedure with this installation method will not take much time. The latest test versions of the system have minimal differences from the final release. Most often, only the build number and some system files change.

How to upgrade from previous versions of macOS?

If you’ve used the final releases of older macOS versions before, the update process will take much longer and may require user intervention.

You don’t have to do anything complicated. You need to accept the new user agreement and go through a couple of dialog boxes.

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1. Go to Apple menu – About This Mac – Software Update.

2. Wait until the check for updates is completed. Most likely, the system will already show a system update available for download.

3. Click the Update Now button and follow the instructions of the installation wizard.

Please note that depending on the speed of the Internet and the power of the computer, the Update may take from half an hour to several hours.

How to clean install macOS Big Sur?

This installation method is suitable if you decide to clean your Mac before selling it, you want to do a good cleaning of your computer for prevention, or there is not enough space for installation, and you don’t want to dig into the file trash.

Attention! A clean install removes all user settings, data, and applications. Move the files you need to the cloud in advance, other drives, or other logical partitions on the current drive.

The data required for installation will be downloaded from the Internet, take care of a stable connection.

1. Shut down your Mac and start it with the Command + Option (Alt) + R keys held down to boot from the recovery partition.

If you hold down Command + R, it will boot with the ability to restore to the currently installed version. If you use the combination Command + Option + R, it will boot with the ability to upgrade to the latest available version of the system.

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3. After loading the shell, select Disk Utility.

4. You can completely format the disk or delete only the system partition, leaving the data partition unchanged.

5. Return to the main menu and select Reinstall macOS.

6. Follow the prompts in the installation wizard for a clean installation and initial Mac setup.

How to install macOS Big Sur from a USB stick?

This installation method is useful for users with slow Internet or limited traffic. You can create a bootable USB flash drive in one place and install it on another computer.

1. Download macOS Big Sur from the App Store.

2. Connect a USB flash drive or external storage over 16 GB to your computer.

3. Launch Disk Utility and format the USB flash drive in Mac OS Extended format after saving all the necessary data.

4. In the Terminal application, enter the command:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ –volume /Volumes/Untitled

Where, instead of Untitled, substitute the name of a formatted flash drive or disk.

5. Press the Enter button and wait until the files are copied to the USB flash drive.

Attention! Owners of computers with a T2 chip ( iMac Pro, Mac mini 2018 and newer, MacBook Air 2018 and more modern, MacBook Pro 2018 and newer ) will have first to disable protection to boot from external drives.

All that remains is to start the Mac with the Option (Alt) key held down, boot from the drive, and perform a clean installation of the system, as in the previous installation method.

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