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How Long Does macOS Big Sur Beta Take to Install

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The macOS Big Sur beta takes a while to download and install. You need to make sure that you have enough time in your schedule to complete the download and then install it. You need WiFi, remain connected to power and you won’t be able to use your Mac for part of this experience.

This guide will walk you through how long the macOS Big Sur beta installation takes. With that information, you can decide if you have enough time to start and finish in one go. The timing will depend on your Internet connection.

How long does the macOS Big Sur beta take to download and install?

Apple now offers the public macOS Big Sur beta, which takes about the same amount of time to install as the developer beta. Before you start down that path, make sure you take these steps before you install the update.

A common question is, “How long does the macOS Big Sur beta take to finish?” We’ll help you estimate how long this takes depends on what you need to do and how fast your Internet connection is.

Plan to spend at least an hour installing the macOS Big Sur beta on your Mac. This could take longer depending on your connection and how many other people are downloading the beta at the same time. Here’s a breakdown of how long the macOS Big Sur beta takes to finish. These are estimates based on our experience. We will update as we install this software.

Task

Time

Backup to Time Machine (Optional)

5 minutes to a day

macOS Big Sur Beta Download

20 minutes to 2 hours

macOS Big Sur Installation Time

20 to 50 minutes

Total macOS Big Sur Update Time

45 minutes to 2 hours and 50 minutes

This doesn’t include the time it takes to download and install the macOS Developer Beta Utility, but that only takes a few minutes. You need to make sure that you have a backup since it is the easiest way to downgrade to macOS Catalina if you run into issues with the macOS Big Sur beta. If you aren’t ready, that’s a good reason not to install the macOS Big Sur beta yet.

Prepare for the macOS Big Sur Beta

Do not approach the macOS Big Sur beta like a traditional macOS update. This is a pre-release update that requires more planning and more prep work.

Here is what you need to do before you install the macOS Big Sur beta. It adds time, but it will make your installation and any potential downgrade much easier.

macOS Big Sur Beta Download Time

Expect a large macOS 10.16 beta download size.

During the first day of the beta, the macOS Big Sur beta download time will likely take longer than if you wait a few days. This is because many other users are trying to do the same thing. The other factor is your internet connection speed.

In our experience, you can expect to spend at least 20-30 minutes downloading the update that should be around 5GB in size, and for some home users, it could take as long as two hours.

macOS Big Sur Beta Install Time

The macOS 10.15 beta installation can finish in under an hour in many cases.

The macOS Big Sur beta installation can finish in under an hour.

Plan on a macOS Big Sur Beta install time between 30 and 60 minutes. This includes the download time and the installation time. If you choose to install to an external hard drive, you may need to budget a little more time than installing to an internal SSD or Fusion drive, but it won’t change things much.

While the macOS Big Sur beta is installing you cannot use your Mac most of the time. During this part of the process, your Mac will be on a black screen installing the beta, so plan accordingly.

10 Things to Do Before Installing the macOS Big Sur Beta

Learn About macOS Big Sur

Learn About macOS Big Sur

Before you jump into the macOS Big Sur beta, you should get familiar with what it includes. This means learning the compatibility, what the new features are, and reading up on what new features are and aren't in the early betas. 

Not everything Apple showed off on stage is in this beta, and some of the new features may not arrive until the first official release or even a follow-up release. 

If you are installing the macOS Big Sur beta for a single feature, wait to see if it is there before you jump in. 

Apple delivers support for a lot of older devices, so there is a good chance that even an older Mac that you own will work, but be wary of jumping right in if it is your only Mac. Let someone else test those waters. 

We're working on a list of the new macOS Big Sur features to help you understand what you will get, and you can use that and information on social media and forums to learn more about this update. 

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