macOS Sequoia in the first test: This is how I installed the beta!

Last week, Apple released, among other new operating systems macOS 15 Sequoia introduced. To get a first look at the new Mac operating system, I installed its beta version parallel to macOS 14 Sonoma on my MacBook Pro (2021 model with M1 Pro). In this guide, I've summarized how I did it. You can also find the link to the .pkg file of the first Sequoia beta here, which you can download without a developer account. The public beta will also be available from July.

Install macOS Sequoia Beta with developer account

If you have linked your Apple ID, which you use to access your Mac, to a developer account at Apple, you can also access beta updates in the system settings. You can get a free developer account for this on this website If this has happened and the Apple ID has been linked to it, then (at the latest after restarting the Mac) under System Settings -> General -> software update In addition to the regular, public updates for macOS, a selection of beta updates will also be released.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when updating your Mac this way. First, you should of course create a backup of the entire system. This is because the beta version of an operating system - especially one at such an early stage - can still contain some instability and errors. Non-functioning features, problems with the network or device connection, bugs, app or system crashes cannot be ruled out. Therefore, a backup should be available to enable you to return to the previous system.

Create Sequoia installer with InstallAssistant

Since I don't want to overwrite my current system, macOS Sonoma 14.5, and don't want to deal with the problems of a beta version when using my MacBook Pro on a daily basis, I'm going the same route I took last year to install the Sonoma beta. And that means using a macOS installer to install the new system on a separate volume of the Mac's storage. This way I can switch back and forth between the two operating systems.

You can find last year’s article here: Install macOS Sonoma Beta (side by side with existing system). As was the case back then, I was able to find the direct pkg download of the developer beta again this year. The 14,79 GB file can be found as a direct download from the Apple server with this link. I downloaded it a few days ago and then proceeded as follows:

  1. Open the “InstallAssistant.pkg” file in the download folder
  2. Follow the installation in the window that opens
  3. Find the “Install macOS 15 beta” app in the Applications folder

Interestingly, the installer icon shows the default macOS Sonoma wallpaper instead of macOS Sequoia. Despite the incorrect graphics, it is actually the installer for macOS 15. 

Create a new APFS volume for the Sequoia installation

After creating a backup (as a safeguard in the unlikely event of an emergency) and after creating the “Install macOS 15 beta” app as described above, I set about creating an APFS volume. This is quite easy to do in Disk Utility, which is located on the Macintosh HD in Program -> Utilities hidden:

  1. Click the plus symbol (+) above the word “Volume”
  2. Give the new volume a name, e.g. “Sequoia”, and add it with APFS format
  3. Close Disk Utility again

Install the macOS Sequoia beta on the new volume

As described above, the installer app to be used is located in the Mac's Applications folder. Once there, I selected it and opened it. This allowed the installation of the macOS Sequoia beta to begin - even if the Sonoma wallpaper seemed a bit confusing again.

After I had agreed to the license agreement, I had to select the volume for the installation. At first, I was only shown the "Macintosh HD", on which Sonoma was already installed and on which all my work data was stored. By clicking on "Show All Disks" I was then able to select the newly created Sequoia volume.

Then I had to select a user. Since my MacBook Pro is only used by me, there wasn't much choice. By clicking on "Install" and entering my password to confirm the process, the Sequoia installation was finally initiated. Initially, this was calculated to take just under an hour. In the end, however, the whole thing only took a few minutes.

Using the macOS Sequoia Beta for the first time

After successful installation, macOS Sequoia will start and a few settings must be made to set up the system. You should take a little time here and read everything carefully. After selecting the country, logging in with your Apple ID (or now "Apple Account"), selecting light or dark mode, setting up Touch ID (if available) and so on, you can move on.

The system may be a bit sluggish at first. This can be seen in apps taking longer than usual to start or close. In addition, functions such as Quick Look longer at the beginning. This is because adjustments are still being made and settings are being applied in the background.

In my case, no desktop background was displayed for the first 2 minutes or so. But then suddenly the Sequoia wallpaper with illustrations of the Californian redwoods. A new wallpaper that is animated when selected is "Macintosh". This should make all retro fans and Apple veterans happy.

I haven't explored all the new features and changes yet, but I can confirm that the settings for the "Apple ID" can no longer be found under the name card in the system settings. Instead, it now says "Apple Account". This will also be the case in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18.

An interesting change that probably nobody had anticipated beforehand concerns the chess app. Its background and the textures for the chess board and the game pieces have been renewed. “Grass” has been removed as an option - and the combination of different field and piece textures is no longer possible.

Finally, here is the “About this Mac” window with the information that macOS 15.0 is now running on the computer.

A note for the sake of completeness: While the installation process shown above was carried out in English, the setup and first use of macOS Sequoia was completely in German for me. So you don't have to correct any language settings here.

Change startup volume: The Mac should not always start with the beta

After installing the Sequoia Beta, its installation volume is automatically selected as the default for system startup. However, this can easily be changed via System Settings -> General -> Startup disk Simply select the Macintosh HD again and click on the "Restart..." button. The Mac will then automatically start again with the regular system.

Select startup disk: Select the desired system when starting the Mac

To select which system to start when you turn on your Mac, you have the following options:

  • Mac with Intel processor: Hold down the option key (⌥) when starting
  • Mac with Apple Silicon: Press and hold the power button when switching on

The same problems as last year

When I first tried Sequoia, I noticed the same “problems” that appeared last year with the first Sonoma BetaApps that are normally started with the system were not opened automatically. In addition, the setting to automatically move screenshots to Dropbox was not adopted.

The individual mouse pointer speed I had to set it again via the terminal. The last feature that was active was that when you click on the desktop, it opens and pushes all app windows out of the way. I deactivated this again immediatelyAfter all manual adjustments, Sequoia could be used more or less as usual.

Your questions about macOS Sequoia

Now that I have successfully installed and set up the beta, please feel free to leave any questions you have about macOS Sequoia. In the next few days, for example, I will be testing the function for pinning app windows by dragging them to the edge of the screen (Windows users have known this since 2009). You can look forward to a report on that. But if you want to see a completely different feature under the microscope, please let me know in a comment. Just a note: "Apple Intelligence" is not included in the beta, which is why I cannot test anything in that regard.

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3 comments on “macOS Sequoia in the first test: This is how I installed the beta!”

    1. Hello Rainer,

      I don't know enough about VMs on Macs. And I prefer to use the regular installation, especially with such an early beta version, to see whether any errors that may occur are due to the system. With a VM, problems can also be due to the virtual environment. This makes it more difficult to find the cause and solution.

      Best regards

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