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[Step-by-step] How to Update Mac to macOS 12 Monterey

The latest macOS 12 Monterey has brought many exciting new features to make things more efficient on Mac and add more fun. Unlike other minior updates, Monterey will make significant changes to your computer. If you're planning to upgrade from Big Sur to Monterey, you may want to do it right. Here we've got the step-by-step instructions for how you'll download and install macOS Monterey to your Mac (Intel M1 Macs). 

how to upgrade Big Sur to Monterey

Why Should You Upgrade to macOS 12 Monterey?

What are the benefits will you get after you upgrade macOS Big Sur to Monterey? macOS Monterey is packed full of plenty of great features to make the Apple ecosystem more efficient, more secure, and more powerful, giving people a big reason to update to macOS 12 Monterey. See Monterey vs Big Sur differences >>

  1. Universal Control. In Monterey, you're allowed to use a single keyboard and mouse to control both an iPad and a Mac and drag and drop files between the different devices easily.
  2. SharePlay. The new FaceTime feature SharePlay lets you share movies, music, screens, etc. with families and friends within a FaceTime video call.
  3. AirPlay for Mac. After the Monterey update, you can finally stream music, videos, and presentations, etc. from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac.
  4. Shortcuts for Mac. Shortcuts app is now available on macOS to integrate with apps, support multitasking, and increase with the Menu bar.
  5. Live Text. Monterey gets the Apple version of Google Lens with the new Live Text, allowing you to read the text in a photo.

Will my Mac Support Monterey Update?

Before you upgrade your Mac (M1 and Intel-based Mac) to the macOS 12 Monterey, make sure your Mac is not too old to get updated. Check if your Mac is one of the following Monterey 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)

Back up Mac Before macOS 12 Monterey Update

Before you download and upgrade to Monterey, backing up Mac is the first essential step. While it requires only clicks to download and install Monterey, there is a big chance that macOS Monterey upgrade problems will occur. Always remember to back up Mac (M1 and Intel-based Mac) before updating to the latest macOS.

1. Make an archived backup of your Mac with Time Machine

  1. Connect an external hard drive to Mac (the drive should be at least the same size as your Mac's internal drive).
  2. Click System Preferences > Time Machine > toggle the switch from "Off" to "On."
  3. Then click the Select Disk… to select the drive or volume you want to use for Time Machine and it will start to backup before you update.

Note: This backup depends heavily on the internet speed and data volume, it can be slow and run into problems with stuck Mac sometimes.

back up before macos Monterey installation

2. Back up important media in one click

Back up the large files, such as videos and photos can take a long time using Time Machine. If you have saved tons of pictures and videos on your Mac, you can back up them immediately with MacX MediaTrans.

It will backup your Mac computer file to a hard drive, or turn your iPhone iPad into a flash drive. You can back up all your music, videos, photos, apps, documents, etc, and restores the backup files to Mac by simply drag and drop.

  1. Free download the macOS 12 Monterey upgrading helper on Mac and launch it. Then connect your iPhone to Mac via a USB cable. If you want to mount iPhone as a hard disk drive to save the Mac backup, make sure it has enough storage.
  2. Click the Flash Drive icon on the main interface of the Mac backup program.
  3. Click Add and select the data to be backed up and the data will be moved to mobiles instantly. You are allowed to back up Mac music, videos, photos, documents, PDF, PPT, RAR, etc. A safe Mac backup will be created in one click for Big Sur to Monterey upgrade.
back up Mac before macos Monterey update

Free up Space on Mac for Monterey Update

The macOS Monterey installer is about 12GB in size.

But that's not enough to get Monterey update successfully as it requires extra space to deploy and perform the Monterey installation. In fact, you may need at least 30GB to install macOS 12. That's a huge amount of space for Macs with 128GB. If your Mac doesn't have enough space to upgrade, you can:

  • Delete unnecessary apps, music, videos, emails, message attachments, etc. from your Mac.
  • Upgrade your Mac to Monterey from an external drive: Download the Installation File > find it in the Applications > copy it to an external drive > on the external drive, create an alias to that Installation File > copy the Alias to the MacBookPro > Double click on the Alias to the Installation File to install.
  • Store the large media like the videos, photos, music, etc. to your iPhone, iPad, external drive using MacX MediaTrans.

Download and Install macOS 12 Monterey

While macOS Monterey is not officially released, Apple has released macOS Monterey public beta for early users to upgrade and test. If you already have the macOS public beta installed, just head to System Preferences > Software Updates and download the latest version away. If you don't know how to update Big Sur to macOS 12 Monterey public beta, here is how:

  1. On your Mac, head to beta.apple.com in Safari.
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID and select macOS on the Guide for Public Betas page.
  3. Scroll down under the Get Started section and click Enroll in your Mac.
  4. On the next page, click on the blue button labeled Download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility.
  5. Head to your Downloads folder and double-click the downloaded macOS Beta Access Utility to mount it.
  6. Once the utility is installed, the System Preferences > Software Update window should launch automatically with the macOS 12 Monterey beta appearing, click Download.
  7. Follow the prompts to download and install macOS Monterey.
how to upgrade to mac monterey

Why can't I Update to macOS Monterey?

Errors may occur during the Monterey download and installation. For example, you may see errors like "Installation failed. In order to continue installing, you need to be an owner.", "An error occurred preparing the update. - Failed to personalize the software update. Please try again.", "The operation couldn't be completed" on MacBook Air M1... In fact, you can't upgrade your Mac to macOS 12 Monterey successfully for different reasons. If you fail to upgrade to macOS Monterey, try the solutions below (here are all the macOS Monterey problems & fixes):

  • Make sure that your Mac is not too old to update to Monterey and make sure you have enough space on your Mac.
  • Turn on Content Caching in System Preferences > Sharing > turn on Content Caching.
  • Try to download the Monterey installer from the Mac App Store or even Apple's website.
  • Make sure that you have an Internet connection to update your Mac. 
  • Enable the root user before installation, then disable it.
  • Try installing the macOS 12 beta from inside the recovery mode.
  • Remove any external hard drives or peripherals connected to your Mac and try again.
  • If you see "The macOS is downloaded but there is no prompt to install it.", find the installer "Install macOS 12 " in the application folder and double-click it to start the installation manually.
  • If the Monterey installation gets stuck/frozen at any point, try to update Monterey in the Safe Mode.
macos Monterey update installation failed

After macOS 12 Monterey Update

Having installed Monterey successfully on Mac doesn't mean the end of the story. Why it always requires some time for a major system upgrade? Because there are a slew of clean-up tasks after the update to get your Mac work like normal. For example:

  • Restore your updated Mac from the Time Machine backup or other backups.
  • You will be asked to enter the Apple ID password and Mac's password to update the authentication in the new macOS Monterey.
  • Some apps may have to ask for permission to access your contacts and calendar even though you previously granted permission.
  • You will need to re-enable that in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General if you use the Apple Watch to unlock your Mac and apps.
  • You may need to log in your Gmail or Google Calendar or other Google services again.