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 version 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 remove the beta version of macOS from your Mac.
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 still 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...
We explain how to stop getting the beta updates below.
How to remove the Catalina beta from a Mac
There are a few ways you can revert from the beta to a full version of the operating system on a Mac. The method will depend on which version of macOS you wish to revert to.
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).
With the release of Catalina you may prefer to stick to the final release of Catalina rather than continue to receive beta updates. The first thing to do is remove yourself from the beta program as this will stop the beta updates from arriving on your Mac.
Here's what you should do:
- Open System Preferences on your Mac.
- Click on Software Update.
- On the left side, under the cog icon, you will see the message: "This Mac is enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program". If you want to stop receiving beta updates on you Mac click on Details.
- A pop up will appear asking you to confirm that you want to restore default update settings. It will indicaate that any current updates won't be removed but you will no longer receive beta updates. To confirm this click on Restore Defaults.
As explained on the last screen, this won't remove the beta from your Mac, it will simply mean you no longer receive further beta updates (unless you choose to sign up for the beta again). If you want to remove the beta and return to a previous version of macOS you have a few choices: you could restore your Mac from the Time Machine backup you made prior to installing the beta (remember you will lose any new content you have created if you do this, so make a copy of it). Alternatively, you could go to the
Step 2: Install macOS Catalina
Having removed your Mac from the beta program, you will be able to install the final version of the new macOS Catalina on your Mac.
Now that the final version of Catalina has been released by Apple, follow these steps to install the current version of the macOS.
- Open System Preferences on your Mac.
- Click on Software Update.
- Your Mac should search for the update. When it confirms that an update is available for your Mac, you can click on More info to get the lowdown on what the update brings. Click Update Now when you are ready to update your Mac.
- You will see a message that to update you must restart your Mac. You can choose Not Now or Restart, depending on whether now is a good time for your Mac to be out of action for half an hour or more.
There is more advice about installing Catalina on your Mac here.
My Mac won't download the final version of Catalina!
If you find that the final version of Catalina isn't available to download via Software Update - perhaps because your Mac erranously believes it's already running the software you can trick your Mac into downloading the full version of the software and installing it.
- Open the Mac App Store.
- Go to the Catalina page, you can click this link to Catalina on the Mac App Store.
- Now if you click on Get your Mac will offer to download the installers.
You may see a message that the software is already installed. Just confirm that you do want to go ahead with the download and once you have the installer you will be able to install the final version over the beta.
How to downgrade from Catalina beta to Mojave
What if you want to revert from the Catalina beta to Mojave? You can revert to the older full version of macOS by grabbing your Time Machine back up you made prior to signing up for the beta... You did make the backup right?
How to downgrade from Catalina beta via Time Machine backup
Remember that the backup will not include any changes you made since you started running the Catalina beta. All the data on your Mac will be erased during the restore process and only the data from the last backup you made will be restored, so be sure to make a separate copy of anything you don't want to lose (or at least copy it to iCloud).
Having unregistered your Mac from the beta program, as above, follow these steps:
- Plug in the hard drive on which your Mojave Time Machine back up is located.
- Restart your Mac.
- Hold down Option/Alt, Command + R until the Apple logo appears.
- Now you are in macOS Recovery, you’ll see the option to Restore from your Time Machine Backup. Select that and click Continue.
- Choose your Backup source and click on Continue again.
- Choose the correct backup - the last last one from before you installed the beta. (You can check this by looking at the macOS version column).
We have a guide to restoring from Time Machine here.
How to revert from Catalina beta without a backup
What if you don't have a pre-Catalina beta backup? You do have a few options.
- Download Mojave from the Mac App Store - we detail how to do this below.
- Create a USB Installer of Mojave (or Catalina) and do a clean install. We have a tutorial on How to do a clean install of macOS here.
- 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 depends on what version you are reverting two.
We'll say it again, 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.
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.
- 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).
- Click Get.
- 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.
- Wait while the macOS downloads - it may take a while, and if your internet connection drops you might have to start again.
- Once it’s downloaded click on Open and wait while it installs. Expect this to take a while…
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.
- Make sure you are connected to the internet
- Click on the Apple logo > Restart.
- Press Command + R until your computer reboots.
- When you enter Recovery mode click on Disk Utility > Continue.
- Select you Startup Disk.
- Click on Erase (yes, you need to erase your drive before you can continue).
- 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.
- If Scheme is available, select GUID Partition Map.Click Erase.
- Wait for the Erase process to complete before you quit Disk Utility.
- Now, to install the macOS again… Make sure that the boot drive is plugged into your Mac.
- Click on Apple logo > Restart.
- Hold down Option/Alt while your Mac restarts.
- You’ll see a list of startup disk options, select your bootable drive containing the version of macOS you want to run.
- 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.
How 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.
- Make a Time Machine back up.
- Download the Mojave installer from the Mac App store.
- Create a bootable installer as above.
- Press Option/Alt as you start up your Mac.
- Choose the macOS Mojave installer as your startup disk.
- Select Disk Utility.
- Choose Show All Devices.
- Choose your drive and click on Erase.
- Change the format to MacOS Extended (Journaled).
- Change the name of your drive to something else.
- Quit Disk Utility.
- Choose Reinstall macOS and select the new drive name as your target.
- 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).