Apple releases macOS Monterey public beta: What to remember

Apple has released the first macOS Monterey public beta, giving us a taste of the software announced at WWDC 2021 earlier this year. There are expected to be several iterations between this first beta release and the final macOS Monterey release later in 2021, and as always there are some provisos and cautions to bear in mind first.

Developers have been playing with the earlier versions of macOS Monterey for some weeks now, after Apple pushed out their first beta following the WWDC 2021 keynote last month. The public beta, though, should be a little more stable at this point.

There are a few good reasons why you might want to give it a try. Shortcuts support – basically mini-apps for streamlining your frequent tasks – is one big improvement, while Universal Control will allow a single keyboard and mouse or trackpad to move between multiple nearby Macs and iPadOS devices. We've seen third-party apps do that before, but Apple is making it native in Monterey.

Macs will also support acting as an AirPlay target with the new OS, so that you can project your iPhone or iPad's display to, say, your new 24-inch iMac and enjoy content on the much larger screen.

Safari is being revamped, with a cleaner layout for tabs and controls. Apple says that should leave more room on-screen for the actual webpages themselves. Tab groups are being supported too, with synchronization through iCloud.

Taking part in the public beta program is free, and Apple makes upgrading between beta versions and the final Monterey release straightforward too. Of course, not to be overlooked is the fact that this is beta software, and absolutely not final. As such, there are likely to be bugs and glitches in there: indeed, Apple is counting on beta users to report them, so that they can be squashed before that final Monterey release later in the year.

You should probably avoid installing the macOS Monterey beta on your primary Mac, then, or one which is mission-critical to whatever you use it for. If you have just one MacBook Air, for example, and you're relying on it for your schoolwork, that's probably not a great candidate for this first beta.

If you are going to try the beta out, it's a good idea to make a full backup of your Mac before you install. That may take a while, yes, but it'll be something you absolutely appreciate should the worst happen and you want to roll back to a more stable version later on. Apple has instructions on how to backup your system, and how to later restore those backups, that you should run through prior to installing the macOS Monterey beta.

This newest beta follows the release of the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 public betas earlier this week, for iPhone and iPad.