Here’s how to upgrade to macOS Monterey

5 min read

Ready to try Shortcuts, Universal Control, and SharePlay in FaceTime? You can now download and install macOS Monterey on your Mac to try these fascinating new features, and more. Monterey is the best operating system for the hyper-powerful Macs that run on Apple chips and has some great privacy enhancements you wouldn’t want to miss. 

What’s new in macOS 12 Monterey?

As someone called it on Reddit, Monterey is the perfect pandemic edition. It adds new capabilities for online interaction and focused remote work. Here’s what’s coming:

  • SharePlay: Stream movies and music in sync with your friends via FaceTime. At the moment, SharePlay works with TikTok, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max. More streaming platforms will be added in the future.
  • Live Text: New AI-backed feature that lets you extract text from photos.
  • Shortcuts: You might have seen them in iOS. Shortcuts arrive to Mac with Monterey to help automate your flow by combining apps and setting up custom actions.
  • Universal Control: Move the cursor across Mac, iMac, and iPad, naturally. Universal Control is an advanced upgrade to Apple’s Continuity.

Please note that some of the macOS Monterey features will be unavailable on Intel Macs. This includes Live Text, improved Maps, and a few minor ones.

macOS Monterey via

macOS Monterey compatibility

Before you start macOS update, make sure your Mac is listed among the compatible devices:

  • MacBook Air (early 2015 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (early 2015 and later)
  • MacBook (early 2016 and later)
  • Mac mini (late 2014 and later)
  • Mac Pro (late 2013 and later)
  • iMac (late 2015 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 and later).

macOS Monterey release date

Monterey became available on October 25, 2021. The Developer Preview, and later the public beta, have been available since early June, so the bravest users already tried the Monterey perks and even reported a few problems. But no worries, those are easy to fix. 

How to download and install macOS Monterey on Mac

The process of installing Monterey on your Mac involves a few steps: first, you’ll need to create a backup of the data you care about, just to make sure it won’t be lost; second, clean your Mac to free up space for the new installation. Finally, you’ll be ready to download Monterey and install it on your Mac. Let’s dive into each step.

Back up your Mac before you upgrade to macOS Monterey

Backing up Mac is the wise thing to do every once in a while. If you’re upgrading macOS (especially if it’s a beta), a backup is essential. The thing is, betas can be unstable, and even if you roll out the upgrade over your current system, which theoretically shouldn’t erase your data, something could go wrong and you could lose access to the contents of your drive.

You can create a backup with Time Machine, it’s relatively quick and easy. However, Time Machine tends to create lots of redundant backup copies, which bring clutter into your system. A better solution would be to use Get Backup Pro or ChronoSync Express.

Get Backup Pro is a great tool that can do bootable clones and scheduled backups in a very flexible way. You can choose exactly which files you want to backup to avoid backing up the whole drive. Here’s how it works:

  1. Open the app and click “+” in Backups
  2. Choose where you want to save your backup under “destination”
  3. Choose File+ to add files you want to backup
  4. Press Start to begin the process.

backup your data before upgrade to new macOS

ChronoSync Express is a good tool to back up folders. Plus, you can use it for other tasks like syncing the contents of different folders. Both Get Backup Pro and ChronoSync are part of the Setapp subscription, so you can try both for free and see what works best.

Free up storage for macOS Monterey

Every year, when Mac users are getting ready for the macOS update, dozens of questions on Reddit read “how much space does the new macOS take?” This is an important question because your Mac should have that amount of free space. Especially if you decide to install macOS Monterey on a partition (half of your drive), the chances are you’ll need to free up some storage first. 

CleanMyMac X will help get rid of the system clutter, old caches, and all kinds of unneeded stuff that is piling up on your Mac. Naturally, this frees up lots of space. But that’s not the only reason why millions of people love CleanMyMac X. The app can detect malware, notify you about low RAM, suggest optimization processes, and more. 

To free up storage with CleanMyMac X, run a Smart Scan > Remove. That’s it. You don’t have to go through different folders and locations on your Mac to delete files, although you can review the results of the scan before hitting that Remove button if you like.

clean up your Mac before upgrade

Tip: The latest recommendation is to free up 20GB of space for macOS Monterey, but in reality, it’s never clear how much space the new macOS will take, so just try to free up as much as possible. For a deeper cleanup, go through each individual module to delete system junk, mail attachments, and files from Trash Bin. You can also use Uninstaller to get rid of unneeded apps.

Download and install macOS Monterey 

All backed up and with a good stash of storage, you can now upgrade to macOS Monterey. We recommend that you install it on a partition and try all the features alongside your current system — it’s simply easier to roll back in case you don’t like the new Monterey. We describe how to create a partition below. Once you’re ready to install Monterey, follow the steps: 

  1. In the Apple menu, choose About This Mac

  2. Click Software Update in the Overview section

  3. Click Update Now and follow the instructions. 

It might take some time to install the update, so make sure you don’t have anything important to do on your Mac in the next hour or two. 

Update macOS in About This Mac

Install macOS Monterey on a partition

A partition is basically splitting your drive in half. Considering macOS Monterey might take around 20GB, you should ensure half of your drive has that amount of space if it’s formatted to Mac OS Extended (that’s a challenge unless you clean up with CleanMyMac X!). Here’s how to partition a drive: 

  1. Access Disk Utility and choose your main drive under “Internal”
  2. Click Partition in the upper menu
  3. With APFS format, you’ll be able to just add an extra volume to your drive
  4. With Mac OS Extended, you have to partition your drive (it’s possible to choose the amount of storage you want on a newly created part of the drive). 

Now you can install macOS Monterey beta on a partition. To access a specific partition, hold down the Option key during startup.

Get essential tools for macOS Monterey update

Get Backup Pro, ChronoSync Express, and CleanMyMac X — the apps you’ll need to back up and clean your Mac before installing Monterey — are easy to access with Setapp, a productivity platform for Mac and iPhone users. 

Monterey upgrade toolkit by Setapp

Setapp has more than 220 apps, but best of all, it suggests app collections based on your tasks. For example, you can find a ready-to-use toolkit for macOS updates in the Collections section. Try it for 7 days free.

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