How to Try the macOS High Sierra Beta Right Now

Excited about High Sierra, but don’t want to wait until autumn? The public beta is now available to try; here’s how to install it.

We’ve shown you the new features in High Sierra, coming fall 2017. Highlights include a new filesystem, a new version of Photos, and all sorts of useful tweaks to Safari. You can try the new Safari features in Safari Technology Preview right now, without upgrading your operating system, so if that’s most of what interests consider doing that instead.

But if you want an entire operating system’s worth of new features to play with, the Public Beta gives you access right now. As always, back up your Mac before proceeding! There’s a chance the install won’t work properly, and if that happens you’ll want a Time Machine backup to restore to.

This Is Not For Day-To-Day Computing

High Sierra is not ready for production machines at this point: if you install the public beta you can expect bugs and crashes. Do not try to use the High Sierra Beta as your primary operating system.

The best idea is probably to put High Sierra on a second Mac—one you don’t use for day-to-day work. I installed on an old MacBook Pro I keep around the house for exactly these sorts of things.

If you don’t have the luxury of a second Mac (after all, money doesn’t grow on trees), consider dual booting instead. Simply create a new partition with Disk Utility, with at least 20GB of space (more if you want to try a bunch of applications.) Label this partition something obvious, like “High Sierra.”

While installing the beta, use this partition instead of the default.

As of this writing, we can’t find a way to get High Sierra working properly in a virtual machine, so that option is out for now. We’ll try to update this article when that changes.

Register For and Install The Public Beta

First, head to beta.apple.com and click Get Started. Sign in with your iCloud account to enroll for the beta, then head to the page dedicated to the macOS beta. Scroll down to the “Enroll your Mac” section, then click the blue button to download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility.

Mount the DMG file, then launch the PKG installer found inside.

Go through the steps and your Mac will be ready to download the macOS High Sierra Public Beta from the Mac App Store. In fact, the App Store will open for you.

Click “Download,” then wait. This might take a while: the servers have been fairly busy since the public beta launched. Eventually the installer will start.

The installation is going to take a while, and will involve shutting down your computer, so save anything you’re working on before hitting “Continue.” When you do, you’ll be asked which partition you want to put the beta on. (If you’re dual booting, this is where you’d choose your newly-created second partition.)

You will be asked whether you want to upgrade the filesystem.

After that, the installation will begin.

You can continue to use your Mac during this initial phase, though it may be slow. When that done, your Mac will reboot (after asking you, of course) before getting to the second phase of the process.

You will not be able to use your Mac during this part of the installer. Eventually your Mac will restart again, before finally allowing you to try out your new operating system. If you installed it on a second partition, just hold the “Option” key as your Mac boots to choose which operating system to launch.

Apple has a very complete roundup of new features on their website, so check that our as you explore the new features. Let us know about anything awesome you find, okay?

Justin Pot is a staff writer for How-To Geek, and a technology enthusiast who lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.