Should you download Apple’s MacOS public beta?

Not yet. Not unless you have a spare Mac, hours of free time, and don’t mind ‘borking’ your configurations, says Daniel Eran Dilger.

From Hands on with Apple’s first public beta of macOS 10.15 Catalina, posted on AppleInsider Monday:

Note that most users should not download a Public Beta! This is especially the case for anyone who would have their life or work inconvenienced by having to track down complex problems, potentially including hardware that won’t boot or a full restore from a backup. That in itself can take hours to perform, particularly in our modern age where you likely have 100 GB or more of photos alone.

It’s not just that the Catalina Public Beta could have some wild bugs hiding in there as it develops—in our modern age of cloud-connected everything, even a minor bug could trigger a chain of events that might end up corrupting your Keychain passwords, duplicating contact records, borking your HomeKit configuration, or erasing pictures you expect to be synced to iCloud.

Let me emphasize this one more time: you don’t just need a solid backup before you install a Public Beta; you need the flexibility of hours of free time to sort out any problems that might result from using early beta software!

Ideally, to run the Public Beta you should have an extra Mac with a separate copy of your data, so if things go sideways you can erase it and start over fresh. Keep in mind that if you connect a Public Beta machine to your iCloud account you could end up tainting all sorts of your online data that could be complex to straighten out later.

My take: The definitive hands-on. Not for the faint of heart.


  1. Jerry W Doyle said:
    Downloading a public software beta is NOT for me. Heck, I am wary of downloading new software update versions Apple pushes out to us. I used to be one of the first to download new software updates. In recent years, though, I have had more instances of minor problems that continued to build and finally climaxed with my downloading WatchOS 5.1 resulting in my new Series 4 Watch device being “bricked” with my staring at the Apple Watch  and nothing else happening. Apple would not replace the Watch. Instead, Apple Care representatives instructed me to send it in for repair (a two week newly purchased device). I returned the Watch and purchased another.

    Since that last episode of software update bricking my device, I no longer rush to download new software updates, let along my considering downloading a “public beta.” I now wait a period to see what users are reporting.

    I can’t help but feel that Apple has had some “slippage” in recent years in pushing out new software updates free of bugs and other related problems. I used to welcome new software updates. Now I am leery of them. So, I wouldn’t even consider the public beta route.

    June 25, 2019
    • David Drinkwater said:
      Jerry, a public beta is not a new software update. It is a public beta.
      By installing a beta, you volunteer to be a guinea pig. Or a lab rat. Choose your metaphor.

      June 27, 2019
  2. Steven Noyes said:
    I have been using Catalina since 3 days after the dev release went out. I did this to be able to work on learning SwiftUI which really needs Catalina for you to use the live previews. That said:

    1) I am finding Catalina really stable from the OS stand point. No crashes to date.

    2) I disabled the T2 security chip of my iMac Pro and installed on an external USB-C SSD. This allows me to reboot into my main system. NOTE: I find Catina to be very fast running and booting even running off the external SSD which is about 1/6 the speed of the internal monster of SSD the iMac Pro has. (500MB/sec VS 3000 MB/sec).

    3) Office does not work. (crashes on load)

    4) BeyondCompare does not work. (32 BIT)

    5) SwiftUI, while still nascent, shows serious promise.

    6) I really really really miss Dashboard. Like lots.

    June 25, 2019

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