I have difficulty figuring out how to upgrade a MacBook Air to Big Sur.

macOS Catalina - Version 10.15.6 - MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2012) - Processor 17. GHz ... - Memory 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 - ...

  • downloaded some beta-enabling package from developer.apple.com
  • the "Software Update" program shows that the computer is enrolleD in the "Apple Developer Seed Program."
  • I tried for several days in a row now, but it does not ask me for an upgrade to Big Sur
  • Instead, updating to 10.15.6 is advertised.

I want 11 and new to Apple, I've never used a Mac before (well, OK, once or twice in 1995...)

It's not at all obvious how to upgrade this to 11. What steps might I be missing?


2 Answers 2


In your case, the Mac doesn’t meet the requirements for Big Sur. You did everything correct, except checking the supported hardware.

Allan has a good answer for overall relating to BigSur. Here's an answer for the specific make and model. According to Apple's website, there are a few models that supported Catalina that will not support BigSur (macOS 10.16/11).

The machines that support BigSur are:

  • MacBook 2015 and later
  • MacBook Air 2013 and later
  • MacBook Pro Late 2013 and later
  • Mac mini 2014 and later
  • iMac 2014 and later
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later (all models)
  • Mac Pro 2013 and later

Big Sur Preview (Apple's website) Navigate to near the bottom of the page to find compatibility information.

  • 1
    good edit @bmike Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 0:54
  • 1
    Both these answers are superb. Please vote up the question. It’s admirable to say you’re new and ask for detailed and clear help.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 1:08

While Big Sur has been relased as a public beta, it's not ready for general consumption. It's going to have issues and users are expected to know how to get around issues and at least research. Let's face it... you're jumping into the deep end of the pool - do you know how to swim or at least did you bring your floaties?

From the Beta FAQ

Please note that since the public beta software has not yet been commercially released by Apple, it may contain errors or inaccuracies and may not function as well as commercially released software. Be sure to back up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and your Mac using Time Machine before installing beta software. Since Apple TV purchases and data are stored in the cloud, there’s no need to back up your Apple TV. Install the beta software only on non-production devices that are not business critical. We strongly recommend installing on a secondary system or device, or on a secondary partition on your Mac.

I'm not saying this to discourage you, in fact, I encourage all users to try out new things because it expands their skill set. However, I do fear for users who want to upgrade to the bleeding edge on their only computer to beta software (regardless if it's Windows, macOS, or even a *nix) without having some sort of way to escape if something goes sideways. Ask any long time user here how many questions we each have answered where having a Time Machine backup would solve pretty much all problems...

All that said... You can do an in place upgrade and a wipe and install . I prefer the wipe and install (via USB Installer preferably). After you've downloaded the installer....

In-Place upgrade:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/startosinstall --agreetolicense --forcequitapps --nointeraction

Wipe & Install:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/startosinstall --eraseinstall --newvolumename "Macintosh HD" --agreetolicense –forcequitapps --nointeraction

To create a USB installer:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/DRIVENAME --nointeraction --downloadassets 
  • 1
    "After you've downloaded the installer..." I guess that's another part I don't quite understand. I followed a couple of instructions to download something called macOSPublicBetaAccessUtility.dmg and installed it, but it does not ask me to install Big Sur. Neither is there "/Applications/Install...Big Sur" I followed these instructions, but there is no "Install Profile" button on that page.
    – Dmitri
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 0:05
  • What hardware do I need to be able to use a USB stick? Got a new MacBook Pro from my company. That only has USB-C connections.
    – Michael S.
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 14:41
  • 1
    You need a USB-C Hub to expand your ports. One of them (at least) will be USB-A port for USB drives and other peripherals.
    – Allan
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 14:49

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