If you are a developer, or just curious about what the next version of macOS will be like to use, you can install the beta of the upcoming verison on your Mac. But what do you do when you no longer want to run the beta, perhaps because it's causing havoc with your Mac, or because Apple has launched the final version to the public and you want to stop getting the beta updates now? Read on to find out how to stop running the beta version of macOS.

If you aren't running the beta, but want to, you can read about how to get the beta of macOS here.

Why am I getting beta updates?

If you are signed up for the beta you will have been receiving various versions of it in the run up to the eventual release of the software in its finished state. Once the final version launches you might think it will stop there but it doesn't - even following the final release to the public, there will be various beta releases throughout the year as Apple tests new fixes and features. This can be frustrating if you just ran the beta to get the new features early and aren't so keen on having to try out the latest updates to buggy features as Apple tests them.

Running the beta, even after the software launches, means you might experience regular software crashes, problems with your web or server connection, software you rely on might stop working, or simply, your Mac might start behaving unreliably. If you want to say bye-bye beta follow the steps below to revert to a standard version of macOS.

You might also find you get more done if your Mac isn't installing a new, buggy, beta update to the software every two or so weeks...

How to uninstall the MacOS beta

There are a few ways you can revert from the beta to a full version of the operating system on a Mac.

Note: it’s easier to downgrade from MacOS Catalina beta to Mojave than it was to downgrade from High Sierra or Mojave to anything predating High Sierra. This is because Apple started using a completely new filing system (APFS) from High Sierra onwards (SSDs only in High Sierra, all storage in Mojave).

Downgrade from Catalina beta to Mojave

  • You can download the latest stable version of macOS Mojave via the Mac App Store (here). It will actually open up Software Update in System Preferences, but that link will take you straight there via the App Store. This is the simplest way to revert from the beta - we explain step by step what you need to do below. The same will apply once Catalina launches officially, you will just be able to download the final version. However, as we will explain next, there are a few extra steps you need to take to stop more beta versions arriving on your Mac, see the next section... How to revert to Mojave
  • Alternatively, you can create a USB Installer and do a clean install. We have a tutorial on How to do a clean install of macOS here.
  • You can download and install the older OS using the built-in Recovery mode (this could be the quickest method - if you web connection is good) But it all depends on what version you are reverting two.

Before you install the older version of the Mac operating system, make sure that you make a copy of all your important files (remember you won’t be able to recover files that Time Machine backed up since you were running the beta - because this will recover that version of macOS too - so make a separate back up of these).

How to stop getting beta updates

However, just downgrading your version of macOS won't necessarily mean you will stop getting alerts that you have beta updates to install, and accidentally installing them. As we explain above, when the final version of Catalina becomes available to download, the beta program won't stop.

But if you want to stop running the macOS Catalina beta then read on. (If you are running a full version of Mac OS and would like to know how to downgrade from that to an older version, we have a separate article here: How to downgrade macOS.)

How to stop getting macOS Catalina beta updates

If you want to stop receiving Catalina beta updates you need to start by stopping any future updates to the beta being pushed out to your Mac. To do this:

  1. Open System Preferences > Software Update
  2. If you are enrolled in the Beta Software Program you will see a message confirming that and below it Details. Click on Details.
  3. Click on Restore Defaults if you do not want your Mac to continue to receive beta updates.

How to revert to Mojave from the Catalina beta via the Mac App Store

This process can take a while - and if you have an unreliable internet connection it may fail.

However, it’s the easiest way to install an older version of the OS.

  1. Either click on this link, or Open the Mac App Store, type Mojave into the Search box and click on Mojave (switch Mojave for Catalina once that version launches).
  2. Click Get.
  3. The Software Update window up from System Preferences will open. Confirm that you want to download the software, you'll also see a warning that you are downloading an older version of the OS, ignore it. 
  4. Wait while the macOS downloads - it may take a while, and if your internet connection drops you might have to start again.
  5. Once it’s downloaded click on Open and wait while it installs. Expect this to take a while…

How to revert back to Mojave from the beta using Time Machine

If you have been running the beta and want to revert back to the Mojave (or, once it launches the non-beta version of Catalina) you should be able to use this method - assuming that you previously had Mojave on your Mac. (You could also revert back to High Sierra or earlier this way assuming you have an old Time Machine backup from before the Catalina beta arrived, but you will lose a few years worth of backups if you do so.)

This is a simple way to install an older version of the macOS, of course you will need a Time Machine backup from just before you installed the beta (we always advise that you make a backup before updating - that's why!)

  1. Click on the Apple menu.
  2. Restart.
  3. Hold Option/Alt, Command + R until the Apple logo appears.
  4. Now you are in macOS Recovery, you’ll see the option to Restore from your Time Machine Backup. Click Continue.
  5. Select the Backup source and click Continue.
  6. Now you need to choose the right backup - the last one from before you installed the beta. (You can check this by looking at the macOS version column).
  7. Choose the back up and click on Restore.

Note that when you Restore from Time Machine backup in Recovery mode the data on your Mac will be erased - so you will lose any data that you’ve created since installing the beta (so make a copy of this on a separate drive, or make sure it’s backed up in iCloud).

Once restored any files you had created since the beta was installed can be transferred from the device you copied them to.

We have a guide to restoring from Time Machine here.

How to install macOS using a boot drive

This method will involve completely wiping your Mac, so make sure you have a back up made prior to installing the beta (or at least copy any important files and photos to a separate drive to copy back later).

Follow these instructions to make a boot drive of MacOS.

Currently it is easy to download the latest version of Mojave from the Mac App Store - but if you want to get an older version of the macOS it's a lot more complicated because Apple made it impossible to download old versions of MacOS in Mojave. It's not easy, but luckily, we have instructions for how to get an older version of the Mac operating system here.

Once you have your boot drive ready, follow these instructions to reinstall the older version of MacOS.

  1. Make sure you are connected to the internet
  2. Click on the Apple logo > Restart.
  3. Press Command + R until your computer reboots.
  4. When you enter Recovery mode click on Disk Utility > Continue.
  5. Select you Startup Disk.
  6. Click on Erase (yes, you need to erase your drive before you can continue).
  7. If your Mac is using APFS - likely if you were running High Sierra on a SSD, or Mojave on an SSD, Hard drive or Fusion drive, select APFS from the format list. In some rare scenarios your Mac might be using HFS+, if you have a Fusion Drive for example, in that case you’d need to choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the format list.
  8. If Scheme is available, select GUID Partition Map.Click Erase.
  9. Wait for the Erase process to complete before you quit Disk Utility.
  10. Now, to install the macOS again… Make sure that the boot drive is plugged into your Mac.
  11. Click on Apple logo > Restart.
  12. Hold down Option/Alt while your Mac restarts.
  13. You’ll see a list of startup disk options, select your bootable drive containing the version of macOS you want to run.
  14. Click Continue and wait will it installs

Now you can recover your setting and data from the last back up you made prior to installing the beta.

What if you need to revert to Sierra or earlier?

As we said above, it’s a little more complicated if you are reverting from Catalina, Mojave or High Sierra to a version of the macOS that predates them because Apple has made it harder to get old installers, and (probably related) Apple has switched to a new file system.

Back when Apple stopped trying to make APFS work on Fusion Drives back when it was beta testing High Sierra (an early version of that beta which did support it on Fusion Drives), the company issued the following instructions to downgrade from the APFS version to a HFS+ version. Since Mojave brings APFS to hard drives and Fusion Drives as well, it is likely that if your Mac is so equipped you will need to bear this in mind when downgrading.

  1. Make a Time Machine back up.
  2. Download the Mojave installer from the Mac App store.
  3. Create a bootable installer as above.
  4. Press Option/Alt as you start up your Mac.
  5. Choose the macOS Mojave installer as your startup disk.
  6. Select Disk Utility.
  7. Choose Show All Devices.
  8. Choose your drive and click on Erase.
  9. Change the format to MacOS Extended (Journaled).
  10. Change the name of your drive to something else.
  11. Quit Disk Utility.
  12. Choose Reinstall macOS and select the new drive name as your target.
  13. Once in Setup Assistant choose to migrate your data from your Time Machine back up (Time Machine isn’t using APFS, yet, so this should work, for now).