A Detailed Guide on How to Download and Install MacOS 11 Big Sur

How to Download and Install MacOS 11 Big Sur

Apple released the macOS update on November 12, 2020. And, it was one of the most awaited mac updates which came with some major improvements. No matter, if we’re talking about the upgraded design, advanced control center, or the new features such as HomeKit or Spotlight, everything looks fascinating. Apple introduced macOS 11 Big Sur at WWDC which held in July 2020. And every geek got excited to try this new update on their Macbook. Also, it was the first major update made by Apple from version 10 to 11 in 20 years. Now, its public beta is available for Macbook users. Therefore you can easily download and install the macOS 11 Big Sur on your Macbook.

Alongside the redesigned look, the new macOS update also has a translucent dock, big standout icons, and separated buttons of the toolbars. Although most of the publications are telling about this redesigned look which Windows has been following for years. Still, Mac users already want to try these new features on their Macbook. Also, they want to get a stable experience without having fewer crashes. And by the way, who just forgot about the M1 chip. However, this new fusion of M1 chip and macOS 11 Big Sur update might not be the demise of bugs. Still, you can expect an enhanced and more stable experience than before.

How to Install macOS 11 Big Sur?

Now, if you’re one of these users who’re dying to experience this new update, this post will help you a lot. The new macOS update has already here but for some users, the installation process is a little confusing. And they’re getting a hard time getting into this new update. To save your time I already researched this topic and compiled this post. In this post, you’ll know how you can download and install the macOS 11 Big Sur in your Macbook.

So without wasting enough time, let’s get started.

Should You Install macOS 11 Big Sur?

We humans have a curious nature. And Apple just released a mac update after 20 years. Also, Apple made some drastic changes in it and enhanced some of its existing features. This was exciting enough for us to experience this new update. As a result, we got into a rush and start searching for the fastest and genuine way to install it on our system. But somewhere in our head or maybe in our heart, we have a question- Is it really worth it? Does my MacBook really need this update? Or should I install macOS 11 Big Sur on my MacBook?

I searched about this query and found some of the plus points to install macOS 11 Big Sur and some minus points of it.

Pros of upgrading to macOS 11 Big Sur

  • To make your mac smoother than before.
  • To experience the redesigned and semi-transparent look of it.
  • For better notification and control center.
  • To try out the new features of Safari.
  • To get benefits from extra features such as Photos, Maps, Spotlight, etc.
  • Unload the old system bugs
  • To remove the non-essential apps.
  • Less slowing down, hanging, or freezing problems.

On the other hand, I also found some points that seem major problems with updating macOS 11 Big Sur.

Cons of upgrading to macOS 11 Big Sur

  • You might face some graphical issues such as external display support.
  • It comes with initial bugs and issues.
  • Don’t sure about the compatibility of macOS Big Sur 11.
  • Don’t install it on your single primary system.

Apple actually launched as 11.0.1 and many users are complaining about its stability. However, chances are the next build won’t come with these bugs and stability issues. So you can wait for a little more to install the next stable version. And if you’re okay with these stable issues and little frustrating bugs, then go for it.

Just download and install macOS 11 Big Sur.

Is your Mac Compatible with macOS 11 Big Sur?

Before gathering comprehensive knowledge on how to install macOS 11 Big Sur, here’s the first step you should follow- make sure that your mac is compatible with this new update. If your mac has outdated hardware sorry to say but you can’t use Big Sur. For the macs with outdated hardware, Catalina will be the only option, at least for now.

But how you will make this confirmation?

The first thing Apple just shared that macOS Big Sur asks for a 35.5GB of available storage if you will upgrade it from macOS Sierra or later. Moreover, if you already have an early version installed, you’ll need a free space of 44.5GB to install macOS 11 Big Sur.

Furthermore, the list of the compatible device which can run macOS 11 Big Sur are mentioned below:-

  • 12-inch MacBook from 2015 and after.
  • MacBook Air from 2013 and after.
  • Mac mini from 2014 and after.
  • iMac from 2014 and after.
  • iMac Pro from 2017 and after.
  • MacBook Pro from late 2013 and after.
  • Mac Pro from 2013 and after.

And, don’t worry if you don’t know about your Macbook model. You can easily check it in a few clicks. For instance, click on the Apple icon > About This Mac. You will see a pop up with options like Overview, Display, Storage, Support, and Service. Click on the Overview and it will show all the details about your Mac including your processor, memory, graphics, etc.

know Macbook information to install macOS 11 Big Sur

Furthermore, you can get detailed information on Macbook compatibility by visiting Apple’s official page of macOS 11 Big Sur compatibility.

Where I can Download and Install macOS 11 Big Sur?

As you already know that Apple released the public beta of macOS 11 Big Sur, it’s available to download now. Even you can do it right now. Furthermore, you don’t have to go anywhere to download this new update. Apple said that users will receive the notification with the words like “macOS Big Sur update is ready to be installed.”

From a Notification Pop-up 

However, you should have installed OS El Capitan v10.11.5 or later in your system. Also, make sure you have turned on the setting in App Store preferences or Software Update preferences – “download new updates when available.” This setting would make the installation step easier for you. And due to activating this setting, your system will automatically download and install macOS Big Sur.

Notification pop-up would provide you two options- Install now and Install later. You can click on install now to install the macOS update. If you can’t do that due to a certain reason, you can click on install later. When you’ll be ready to install, open the file named Install macOS 11 Big Sur from your Applications folder. To know about how to pause or turn off notifications, you can follow these steps.

However, you might not find or see it on your system. If something like this happens worry not, we still have a solution. Actually, there are two ways you can use to download and install the macOS 11 Big Sur.

Using System Preferences

The first option is simple- just visit the system preferences, and have a look around. You’ll see an update option there. Click on install and there you go.

From the Official App Store

And if this option also didn’t work for you, you can visit the App Store on your Mac. On the App Store, you can download and install this latest update. Also, you can visit Apple’s official page to download and install the macOS 11 Big Sur.

A Step-by-step Process for a Clean Install macOS 11 Big Sur

So you have decided to upgrade to macOS 11 Big Sur. Also, you know that your Macbook is compatible to run this new update. Now here is our step by step process to install macOS 11 Big Sur.

1. Backup Your Important Data

When we are talking about the clean install, it means we have to delete everything from your Macbook. A clean install can make your Macbook smooth like you’re using it for the first time unless it has any hardware problem. But if your Macbook has some favorite cartoons or some important client’s work files then Backup is the first step before deleting everything. Although, if you don’t need any files present in your Macbook, just skip the backup process and move on further.

The Macbook has a built-in feature named Time Machine. It allows you to create a backup that includes documents, music, photos, and applications.

  1. To create a backup with Time Machine, you will need an external storage device. Here is the list of supported external storage devices you can use to create a backup.

Supported Drives to Create a Backup:-

  • External drive such as USB or Thunderbolt drive.
  • AirPort Time Capsule
  • External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or an AirPort Time capsule.
  • Another Mac as a shared Time Machine backup destination.
  • Time Machine supported Network-attached storage (NAS) device.

Now, Your drive should be formatted but if you haven’t done it before, Time Machine will erase all the data after choosing the disk. Also, to know more about the devices that work with Time Machine, you can visit Apple’s official page.

2. After choosing an ideal storage device, Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu. Also, you can click Apple menu> System Preferences and then click Time Machine. A box like below will be opened:-

TimeMachine dashboard to backup data in mac before install macOS 11 Big Sur

3. Click on the “Select Backup Disk” under the green drive like icon.

4. After clicking on it, a mini popup will be opened. It will show all the drives connected to your Macbook. Now, choose your connected drive by clicking on it to use it as a backup drive. And after that click on the user disk.

List of connected devices to use as a backup device in Time machine

Note:- You can check to encrypt backups to set a backup password to your backup drive. Therefore, only the users who have the backup password can access the data in the chosen backup drive.

Also read:- How to Restore Your iPhone from an iCloud Backup

5. And after that Time Machine will automatically make create a backup for you. And, if it doesn’t, you can create a backup manually by clicking on “Back Up Now.”

Note:- If you’re creating your backup for the first time, it will take a long time. Next time when you create another backup on Time Machine, it’ll only back up the new or changed file since the previous backup. So it’ll not take much time for future backup.

Moreover, you can use third-party apps such as Thunderbolt drive, or FireWire drive, Get Backup Pro. Also, you can use an external disk drive to just copy the files you need. And if you’re a cloud service, you can also save your important files there.

2. Clean your PC from All the Useless Files

A clean install is the best way to install an operating system. Also, who wants to have all the old system clutter files in a new update. Although it’s a different case if it’s some important documents. And if you have something like that, we’ve already created a backup for it.

Now, let’s move on to the next step which is cleaning your Macbook from non-essential files. It might sound a little complicated to you but it’s quite simple. You can use a third-party app to do that. And, there are already dozens of apps available on the internet.

Note:- We’ll delete our old macOS data in the next step. If you’re going to do the same this step is optional. On the other hand, it’s recommended to you if you want to install macOS 11 Big Sur without deleting anything from the macOS old data.

Next, if you’ve chosen the clean install, follow the next steps. On the flip side, if you don’t want a clean install, just skip to the next section which is “Install macOS 11 Big Sur Update without Erasing Data.” It is easy and will take less time than the clean install.

We’re going to mention CleanMyMac X for this tutorial.

Cleanmymac x dashboard to remove clutter files before install macOS 11 Big sur

This app is from setapp.com’s suite which provides you a suite with 210+ apps for $9.99/month. However, you can use their 7-day free trial to just clean your Macbook. Later, you can decide if you want to purchase it or not.

so let’s begin.

  1. Download CleanMyMac X from the official Setapp download page.
  2. Open CleanMyMacX and start the Smart Scan.
  3. It’ll take a few seconds to finish the scan.
  4. At the end of the scan, it’ll show all the unnecessary files detected by CleanMyMac. Click the remove button to delete all these files.

Note:- You can also remove system junk files only by choosing an option in the Cleanup section. It can save time as compared to smart scan cleanup. However, a smart scan cleanup also detects potential malware. Also, it gives you deep insights into your Mac’s performance. So a smart scan cleanup is recommended.

3. Download the Big Sur installer

Apple allows you to access the Big Sur installer in the Apple menu by following a few clicks. For instance, Go to the Apple menu, choose About this mac, and then click the software update.

Alternatively here’s the Mac app store link to download it free.

Furthermore, the installer would be launched automatically but we’re doing a clean install. Therefore just don’t click continue and click on “quit install.” After that, a window will be closed and the installer will be saved in your download or selected folder.

4. Create a bootable USB installer

Now you’ve created a backup, cleaned unnecessary files from your Macbook, and download the Big Sur installer. The next step to install macOS 11 Big Sur is creating a bootable USB installer.

Disk utilty dashboard while creating a usb installer to install macOS 11 Big Sur

For creating a bootable USB installer, you need a USB with free storage of at least 16GB. Also, it should be completely empty and if it’s not it will be formatted through this process. So if it has some important files of yours then don’t forget to save them anywhere else.

Also read:- Here’s How to Format USB on Mac (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

Later, below are the steps you need to follow to create a USB installer.

  1. Connect that USB with your Mac.
  2. Open Disk Utility on your Mac. It will show all the connected drives to your Macbook.
  3. Select that USB drive from the list of drives and click on the Erase button.
  4. Choose the Mac OS Extended format.
  5. Later, press Confirm to erase the drive.
  6. After following the above steps open Terminal and enter the following commands:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled

Note: Untitled is the name of your USB drive. If it has a different name, don’t forget to replace it with the “Untitled.” For example, it has a name- “BigSur.” Now check out the name in the following commands:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/BigSur

7. Press the “Return” key and then “Y” individually from the keyboard.

8. You’ll be asked to type your admin password to confirm your action. Just type it. Although if you haven’t set an admin password before, it might not happen.

9. When the process is complete click Done and close Terminal.

That’s it.

Now, you’ve created a bootable USB installer with a Big Sur installer in it. Let’s install macOS 11 Big Sur in your Macbook.

Step 5: Erase your Old macOS Data

Like I said before that we’re doing a clean install. And to do that we’ve to delete the previous old macOS data. But worry not, because we already have created a back up for our important files.

Disk utilty dashboard to delete the old macOS data

So here are the steps you should follow to erase your old macOS data:

  1. Restart your Mac and immediately hold down the Command + R to enter Recovery Mode.
  2. Again open the Disk Utility and select your main startup drive which has your old macOS data.
  3. Don’t change the format and click on the erase button to confirm the action.

Step 6: Final step to install macOS 11 Big Sur

You’ve come a long way. And if you did everything right things will seem like this:

  1. You’ve created a backup for all your files.
  2. You’ve removed the clutter files using a third-party program such as CleanMyMac X.
  3. Already download a macOS 11 Big Sur installer and created a bootable USB with it.
  4. And, finally, you’ve erased your old macOS data.

If things seem alright to you let’s move to our final step to finally install macOS 11 Big Sur into your Macbook.

  1. First, restart your computer and hold down the Option key.
  2. Open the initial screen of Disk Utility.
  3. Select the bootable USB drive with macOS 11 Big Sur that you made in the 4th step.
  4. Confirm your action by clicking on the Install button.

Congratulations, you’ve made it. Now, it will take a few minutes to get installed. Just relax a bit and make your favorite snack or coffee while it is getting installed.

Install macOS 11 Big Sur Update without Erasing Data

If the process of a clean install seems a little complicated to you here’s an alternative. You can update directly to Big Sur if you’re using Mac with OS X Mavericks or later. Moreover, you should have a free memory of at least 35.5GB with a memory of 4GB. Although software like CleanMyMac X can help you a lot to get free memory.

No matter, if you’re not following a clean install, still you must follow the first two steps of a clean install of Big Sur. After following these two steps, just follow the below steps:

  1. In the menu bar click on the Apple icon and choose “About This Mac.”
  2. Choose the Overview section, and click on Software Update Click the “Update Now” button. The installer will be started to download.
  3. Later, you’ll see some simple instructions. Just follow them to install macOS 11 Big Sur. And, after these, you’ll be updated to the new macOS update.

FAQ: MacOS 11 Big Sur

Is it safe to upgrade to macOS Big Sur?

In 2020, most of the things that happened to us were not good enough. And, now mac users are also afraid to upgrade the macOS update of 2020. Meanwhile, if you’ll check out Reddit and Twitter about the macOS Big Sur misbehavior. I checked about it on Reddit and out of 6 posts, 1 post was negative. Although, it was about lagging and unresponsive issues. And you know the beta version acts buggy therefore it’s normal.

Furthermore, Apple mentioned that Big Sur comes with more privacy controls. You’ll be able to know what kind of and why an app is collecting data before its installation. This is due to providing extensive information on the privacy practices of developers while bringing apps to the App Store. Also, the Privacy Report feature of Safari gives you a safer browsing experience than before. In short, it’s pretty fine for you to upgrade to Big Sur.

Should I choose Big Sur over Catalina? 

As compared to Catalina, Big Sur comes with many new features and some major improvements.

First of all Big Sur is the first macOS to support the Apple Silicon chipset. Therefore you’ll be able to run more apps and functions than Catalina. For instance, in the new update, you can port iOS apps to macOS. Plus, the mac Catalyst app got some major improvements. Maps and Messages are redesigned according to Catalyst. Also, you can control its features through a keyboard and will be able to access to more iOS frameworks, new APIs.

Furthermore, you’ll get a new and redesigned UI experience with new widgets and an iOS-like control center. Also, the new Safari is about 50% faster and has more features than Catalina’s Safari browser. For instance, Tab previews, built-in translate, privacy report, etc.

At last, it depends on why you asked this question and there is no one-sentence answer to this question. Also, if we’ll write all the Big Sur’s features, it would be another article. Therefore you can visit the Big Sur review to know more about the new update. So if you want to try out these redesigned look and extra features, just give it a try and install macOS 11 Big SUR.

Big Sur installer stuck while installing?

So, you’ve followed all the steps concisely but it did not work well. Well, things happen. To be specific, you download the macOS Big Sur and while you’re installing it into your Macbook, it stuck. It just stopped there and the installation process is not going anywhere.

Now we have three ways to solve this problem:-

  1. Try to install macOS 11 Big Sur in the Safe mode.
  2. By resetting your NVRAM settings.
  3. By resetting your SMC settings.

Let’s try to solve it using the easiest method first.

1. Install update in Safe Mode
  1. Restart your Macbook. And, immediately hold down the shift button while rebooting.
  2. Now your Macbook will be restarted in Safe mode. After that try to install macOS 11 Big Sur again.

If this works, congratulations, if it’s not let’s try the second way which is resetting NVRAM.

Note:- If you don’t know what is NVRAM check the How-to-geek’s post.

Here’re the steps you can follow to solve this problem:-

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Restart it and immediately press and hold four keys- Option + Command + P + R together for 20 seconds.
  3. Wait until your Mac restarts. Now you just reset your NVRAM.
  4. Try to reinstall macOS Big Sur.
2. Reset NVRAM Settings

Hope it works otherwise I know how frustrating it could be. But if it didn’t work here’s the steps of the third way:-

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Unplugged the power cord from the mac.
  3. Press and hold three buttons- Shift + Ctrl + Option on the left side of the MacBook.
  4. While holding these buttons press and hold the power button for the next 10 seconds.
  5. Plug-in back your Macbook.
  6. Restart your Macbook.
3. Reset SMC Settings

To reset SMC on a Macbook with a removable battery:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Unplugged the power cord from the mac.
  3. Remove the battery from your Macbook.
  4. Press and hold down the power button for about 5 seconds and then release.
  5. Insert the battery back into your Macbook.
  6. Plug-in back your Macbook.
  7. Restart your Macbook.

If you’re more a visual learner, you can also watch a Youtube video I mentioned below to reset NVRAM and SMC:-

macOS 11 Big Sur isn’t Downloading. What should I do?

You’ve got an update notification on your Macbook. You made a back up and now you’re ready to install macOS 11 Big Sur. So you clicked on update and it just starts downloading. It’ll take some time to download but if it’s taking hours something is wrong with it. And, here are some of the solutions you should try to fix this problem.

1. Check the Download Server

Apple provides you a page where you can check the Apple servers running. This way you can know if you’re downloading from an active server or not. If you see you’re downloading from a server that is down just choose another one.

Although this could be a rare case, still it doesn’t consist much time. So it’s good to give it a try.

2. Get A Stable Internet connection

MacOS 11 Big Sur has an installation size of around 10GB. Therefore, you can’t download macOS Big Sur using a weak internet connection. So just confirm if you have a stable internet connection.

You can use an internet speed test if you’re using Wi-Fi. Also, you can use an internet controller tool such as the WiFi Explorer app to get insights on your Internet signal or to get troubleshoot some common problems. And, if you still can’t install macOS 11 Big Sur using Wi-Fi, try using an Ethernet connection.

3. Change Your Mac’s DNS Settings

Moreover, if you’re out of luck and nothing worked for you don’t feel downhearted. In the Macrumors forum, one user shared the same problem and tried everything I told in the above paragraph. So he shared a new way to fix this problem. Let’s try this one:

  1. Open System Preferences by clicking on the Apple logo or from the Dock.
  2. Click on Network.
  3. Select the internet connection you’re using and click Advanced.
  4. In the DNS tab add and to the list of DNS servers.
  5. Select the Proxies tab and unchecked all checkboxes there, except the “Use Passive FTP Mode.”
  6. Click Ok.
  7. Restart your Mac.
  8. Also, turned off the firewall on security and privacy.
  9. Re-install macOS 11 Big Sur.

MacBook is running on Catalina after the update. What should I do next?

This is one of the common problems users are facing when they tried to install the macOS 11 Big Sur. They installed macOS 11 Big Sur but end up with macOS 10.15.6. It’s also a well-discussed topic on Apple’s forum page. And one of the users- Steffen Voglmann suggested a solution that you can try.

Here’re the steps:-

  1. Open Terminal > sudo -i > enter root password
  2. Enter the following command lines: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Seeding.framework/Versions/A/Resources/seedutil
  3. After that, copy and paste the following commands:   /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Seeding.framework/Versions/A/Resources/seedutil unenroll
  4. If you enrolled in the DeveloperSeed Beta and using a beta version then once again copy and paste the following:   /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Seeding.framework/Versions/A/Resources/seedutil enroll DeveloperSeed
  5. Close Terminal.
  6. Open “System Preferences” then click on the “Software Update.”
  7. You’ll see a new macOS profile under Software Update.

Note:- Some of the publications and users told to check the macOS version clearly while updating. The macOS Big Sur might appear as 10.16 in a software update. However, some of the users also reported that the new macOS Big Sur has a version name of macOS 10.16 instead of macOS 11. But this problem has been fixed in the public version.


MacOS 11 Big Sur is kind of unusual like the year 2020. For some people, it’s a revolutionary and amazing update with the redesigned features. Yes, I agree with the fact that it has Safari with better speed and new useful features. Also, features like silicon chip supported, everything in the UI is redesigned and privacy reports make it more fascinating. Still, there are some users who’re not happy with this new update, actually, they simply disliked it.

For me, it’s totally different and new than the previous macOS update. And Apple decided to change it after 20 years so it was expected that it’d be a little criticized.

More than its usability I found the installation part a little confusing and irritating. Users are facing certain problems while installing which is actually frustrating.

At last, let’s believe a little more in Apple to make it, even more, better in the next release. For now, by seeing its features, it’s definitely worth a try. At least, you should give it a shot.

So that was a complete tutorial on how to install macOS 11 Big Sur in your Macbook. I hope this post will help you to install this new update. Let’s know in the comments if you’re facing another problem while installing macOS 11 Big Sur. And if you successfully installed macOS 11 Big Sur with the help of this post, don’t forget to share it with your friends who still don’t know how to install macOS 11, Big Sur.

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