If you consider yourself an Apple enthusiast, it’s hard not to get excited about the latest macOS updates. In fact, Apple recently released its macOS Monterey 12.3 beta to testers to great fanfare, with many users lauding new software features like Universal Control.

Whether you’re part of the public beta or you’re waiting for your turn to jump in, you’re probably pretty excited about the next time you’ll get to update your Mac. With plenty of new features to check out, the latest Monterey upgrades are looking like powerful changes.

Not sure how to update your Mac to the latest OS? Let’s take a quick look at everything to know about updating your computer.

Should You Update Now or Wait?

Before you get too excited about the latest software updates, there’s a question you’ll want to ask yourself: should you update now?

There are a few key pros and cons to installing any new upgrade, but you’re the only one who can weigh both sides.

Pros of Upgrading to Monterey

Monterey comes with plenty of new features, from slick productivity tools to the new Shortcuts app to the convenient AirPlay to Mac feature. Even better, users struggling with battery issues will love the new Low Power Mode.

There are also new tools to help you manage your privacy and security, like Private Relay to hide your IP address or the Hide My Email feature. It also goes without saying that many of the best upgrades have happened behind the scenes, with tweaks that make your operating system run more smoothly overall.

Cons of Upgrading to Monterey

For some users, the biggest con of upgrading to Monterey is the new features! If you’re not sure you’re ready for changes to your workflow, you might want to stick with your current macOS version. In some cases, you can perform smaller upgrades—like jumping to the new Safari—to get more of what you’re looking for instead.

In addition, new software is always buggy, and though Monterey has proven to be a relatively stable OS, it’s still no different. Apple has only recently fixed a Bluetooth bug that kept draining the batteries of MacBooks, for example. To avoid this kind of issue, waiting until major bugs have been patched might be wiser.

If you have an older device, you’ll want to be especially careful: new macOS updates tend to be hard on older computers. If you’re concerned that jumping to an updated OS will slow down your computer or cause bugs, look for online reviews and feedback from people who have already dived in with your specific device.

To do this, check out Apple’s discussion forums. You can also poke around social media sites like Twitter as well as YouTube videos.

What to Do Before You Update Your Mac Software

Before jumping into any computer updates, there are a few quick best practices to take care of. While issues from updating their macOS are rare, it’s always a good idea to take some extra time to prepare for any problems in advance.

Back Up Your Files

If you’re using iCloud’s automatic backups, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. However, take some time to make sure you’ve adjusted the settings to back up all of your necessary files, and to make sure that you haven’t run out of space. If you need extra storage, back up your files onto a physical drive, set up an account with a cloud storage provider like Dropbox, or check out some iCloud alternatives.

Make Sure You Know How to Downgrade

Again, no one anticipates problems with a macOS upgrade, but knowing that you can downgrade if you need to can help. If you notice speed or battery issues, or if you don’t like the new features from the new Monterey update, keep this guide handy to downgrade in a pinch.

How to Update Your Mac

First things first: if you’ve set up your Mac to receive automatic updates, you won’t have to worry about doing anything yourself. Your system will download the latest version in the background. If you’d like to set this up, click the Apple icon on the upper left corner of your screen, and then select Software Update > Automatically keep my Mac up to date.

If you haven’t set up automatic updates, you’ll need to download and install the update manually.

To do this, click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen to open the menu. You’ll want to head to System Preferences > Software Update. It’s also possible to download the latest update from the App Store if you aren’t seeing an update available.

From here, you should see two options. If you want to switch to the latest macOS, which is currently Monterey, you’ll want to choose Upgrade Now. If you want to get the latest minor tweaks for your current version, such as switching from Big Sur 11.3 to Big Sur 11.6, select Update Now.

It may take time for your computer to perform the software installation. Once it is done, you should notice that both your macOS and all of your apps have been updated. This is a good time to double-check for installation issues with each app, to get rid of apps you aren’t using, or to remove icons from desktop Mac for a cleaner look.

Get Your Mac Up to Speed

It’s safe to say that learning how to update your Mac isn’t hard, but choosing your timing and understanding the potential risks can be important parts of the process. To be safe, it’s a good idea to do your homework before you jump to the next macOS software version. With a little research, you’ll be ready to take the plunge and enjoy all of the new features available to you!

Want to get more out of your Mac with helpful tech tips like these? Be sure to check out our other content for additional guides.

By Manali