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How to Prepare Your Mac to Upgrade to macOS Monterey

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Just like it does every year, Apple has given its Mac software a major update with macOS Monterey. The new upgrade offers many new features and improvements compared to previous versions.

We’ll take a look at what you should do to prepare your Mac to upgrade to macOS Monterey.

What to Expect in macOS Monterey

macos monterery

Even though it’s not as substantial as past updates, macOS Monterey does bring a number of new features for Mac users.

Fans of Shortcuts on the iPhone and iPad will be glad to hear that the automation tool is now available on the Mac as well.

Other features from iOS and iPadOS 15 arriving on the Mac include Live Text and Focus. You’ll also be able to add a Quick Note just like on an iPad no matter where you are doing on a Mac. All of those will appear in the Notes app along with anything from your iPhone or iPad.

FaceTime is getting better with the addition of Spatial Audio, voice isolation technology, and Portrait Mode.

Safari is also sporting a new design and additional features.

Make Sure You Mac Is Compatible With macOS Monterey

The first step to prepare your Mac for the upgrade is to double-check that your machine is compatible with the new software.

You can use macOS Monterey with the following Macs:

  • iMac (Late 2015 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 and later)
  • MacBook Air (Early 2015 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (Early 2015 and later)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 and later)
  • MacBook (Early 2016 and later)

If you don’t know the model of your Mac, there’s an easy way to check. Select the Apple menu in the upper left corner and choose About This Mac. A dialog box will appear.

About this mac

Below the name of the installed software is the model name and age of your machine. If your Mac isn't compatible with macOS Monterey, the only option is to continue to use your current operating system or purchase a newer machine.

Backup Your Mac With Time Machine

While macOS continues to be a solid operating system, there’s always a chance something could go wrong during the update process. To make sure you don’t lose any important files and data, you should always back up your Mac.

The best way to do that is with Apple’s Time Machine. The built-in feature allows you to completely backup your Mac to an external hard drive. In a worst-case scenario, you can restore your computer from the backup and not lose anything.

Time Machine Mac

After attaching an external hard drive to your Mac, head to System Preferences > Time Machine. You’ll then select the hard drive to back up data.

You can then manually create a backup or automatically have Time Machine work every hour. If this is the first time using Time Machine, it may take a few hours to make a complete backup of your hard drive.

Even after upgrading, consider continuing to use Time Machine. It only costs the price of an external hard drive and is a reliable way to always have a complete backup of your machine available at all times. And there are three ways to restore data to a Mac from a Time Machine backup.

Instead of doing a complete backup with Time Machine, another alternative is to manually add important documents and data to a cloud storage service like Apple’s built-in iCloud. While it’s obviously not as complete as a Time Machine backup, you will have a copy of important files accessible if something happens during the upgrade process.

Update All of Your Existing Apps

Along with the macOS software itself, it’s always a good idea to update the apps on your Mac. Especially with a major macOS update, some apps need an update to run on the newest version.

If you don’t already have your apps automatically update, head to the App Store app. Select the Update tab and then select Update on any available apps.

Use Apple’s Optimize Storage Tools

A major software update is always a good time to clean up your machine. Especially if you have a small internal hard drive, unneeded files can fill up a substantial amount of space and slow down your Mac.

Mac optimize storage

One of the best ways to do a hard drive cleanup is with Apple’s Optimize Storage tools. To access those, select the Apple menu and then About This Mac. Select the Storage tab and then choose Manage.

You can then see a number of ways to clean up your storage and reduce clutter. On the sidebar, you can select a number of areas with large files and manually delete them.

After cleaning up, it’s always a good time to run Apple’s First Aid tool that will repair any issues on your hard drive.

To do that select the Spotlight icon in the Mac toolbar and type Disk Utility. Highlight your hard drive and then choose First Aid. After final confirmation, the feature will check the drive for error and automatically repair any problems.

Know Your iCloud Account Credentials

After the update, you might need to sign back into iCloud. On the Mac, iCloud is the built-in way to sync data and information between Apple devices and the iCloud Drive cloud storage service. A secure way to store those credentials is with iCloud Keychain or a third-party password manager that’s accessible on an iPhone or iPad so you can access them.

Time to Update to macOS Monterey

macos monterey upgrade

Now that you’ve taken a number of steps to prepare the machine for macOS Monterey, it’s time to download the update.

Select Preferences > Software Update. In the dialog box, you should see macOS Monterey listed. Select Upgrade Now.

Don’t expect a quick process. The update can be more than a 10 GB download, so expect that to take some time depending on your Internet connection. After the download, the install process can take up to an hour as well.

Enjoy the Latest macOS Software

With macOS Monterey, you can make use of all the latest and greatest features for your Mac laptop or desktop.

As Apple continues to make the move to its own Apple Silicon chips, Intel-based machines will continue to be supported with updates. But there will be features exclusive to machines with Apple’s M1 line of chips.

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