Apple Developer Program allows app developers to register for an account and test their apps with macOS beta versions. You can get a premium subscription developer account with complete features for $99 per year. However, if you just want to explore macOS features immediately without any development scope, then it does not make sense to pay for the developer account. To make things simple, Apple also offers a free Developer Beta installation option right from the supported Mac devices. In this article, I will explain how to install the latest macOS Sonoma Developer Beta version on your Mac for free.
macOS Developer Beta Version
There are three versions available for macOS:
- Developer Beta – ideal for developers to test their apps are compatible with the new OS. It is released immediately after the announcement (generally in WWDC).
- Public Beta – for those want to test drive, find bugs and report to Apple. This version will be available after a month from the announcement date.
- Stable release – for all users, generally available during fall season (around September).
Install Free macOS Sonoma Developer Beta from Settings
The process is same as installing software update in regular macOS. Before installing beta version, make sure to take a complete system back using Time Machine. Through iCloud sync also helps, you may lose the files stored only on your local Mac if you do not have the backup.
- Click the Apple logo and select “Settings…” menu.
- Go to “General” section and then navigate to “Software Update” section.
- If you are not using the latest macOS (Ventura or later), then you will only see “Automatic Updates” option here. In this case, make sure to download and install the latest OS from there.
- When you have the latest macOS, you will see an additional option under “Software Update” section called “Beta updates”.
- By default, beta updates are turned off and click on the small information icon showing next to “Off”.
- On the pop-up that appears, select “macOS Sonoma Developer Beta” option from the dropdown.
- If you want to change the Apple ID, click the “Use a different Apple ID for beta updates…” link and connect a new account to use developer software.
- Otherwise, click on “Done” to go back to previous screen.
- Your Mac will search and show the macOS 14 Beta. Click the “More info…” link to read the features released with the latest OS or click “Upgrade Now” button.
- Developer Beta version will start downloading. As you see, it’s 13GB in size, so will take some time depending on your internet connection speed.
- After downloading, installation will start with a typical macOS screen and click “Continue” button.
- You need to accept the terms of usage and then confirm the action with your admin password.
- After that, select the drive and click “Restart” button.
- System will restart multiple times and you will see the Developer Beta version is installed finally.
Disable Data Sharing with Apple
When the system restarts, you will be forced to agree data sharing with Apple without any option to ignore that. However, you can disable data sharing after the installation from Settings app.
- Click Apple logo and select “Settings…” menu.
- Go to “Privacy & Security” section, scroll down nearer to bottom and click “Analytics & Improvements” option.
- On the next screen, disable “Share Mac Analytics” and other items to stop sharing your usage data with Apple.
Providing Feedback to Apple
As the purpose of beta OS is to test and provide feedback to Apple, you can make use of the default Feedback Assistant app for this. Though this source app is located under “/System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/Feedback Assistant.app”, you can find its alias under “Applications > Utilities” folder. Open Feedback Assistant and you will see a welcome screen like below. Click “Continue” button and login with your Apple ID to send the feedback to Apple.
Opting Out After Testing
If you are done with testing or find the system is unstable, it is easy to opt-out of Developer Beta and move to stable version.
- Go to “Apple menu > Settings > General > Software Update”.
- Click the information icon showing at the end of “Beta updates” option.
- On the pop-up, select “Off”” option from the dropdown and click “Done”.
System will check and show if any stable version is available to download. Otherwise, you need to wait till the time next stable version is available to move out of beta setup.
If you want to reinstall the stable version immediately, go to App Store and search for “macos”. You will find the stable version and click on the “GET” button.
This will take you to the “Software Update” settings section and show you a pop-up to confirm the download.
Click the “Download” button to get the installation file in your “Downloads” folder. You can open that follow the instructions to start the reinstallation of stable macOS version. However, installing from App Store may not work in most cases if the stable version is lower than your beta version.
Caution Before Installing Developer Beta Version
It is not recommended to install the Developer Beta version on the machine which you need on daily basis. You will face the following problems:
- Most of the third-party apps will crash, stop working or behave strangely showing spinning wheel for every click.
- Permissions given for third-party apps may be lost and the apps will prompt for the permissions again.
- You may find plenty of new features which may change the way you work before. For example, Safari in macOS Sonoma supports Web App feature and now you can add any website as an app in your Dock. Previously, you might be using Chrome for creating app shortcuts for websites which is no more needed with latest Safari version.
So, do not try Developer Beta unless you have a need. At any case, make sure to read the macOS Sonoma release updates and understand the available features before installing the stable version.