An OS X Yosemite beta survival guide

Hundreds of thousands of Mac users are happily using Apple's OS X Yosemite Public Beta, but if things go wrong you may need these handy tips.

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Be prepared

Do make sure you follow these tips to prepare your Mac for Yosemite.

Always back up your data before installing the OS

When it comes to back up it makes sense to also create a clone of your driveDo create bootable USB drive installers for both OS X Mavericks and OS X Yosemite. The process of creating such an installer is relatively simple and is aptly described here.

Compatibility

The following Macs are compatible with OS X Yosemite

  • MacBook Pro: mid-2007 or newer
  • MacBook Air: late 2008 or newer
  • iMac: mid-2007 or newer
  • Mac mini: early 2009 or newer
  • Mac Pro: early 2008 or newer
  • MacBook: late 2008 aluminum, early 2009 or newer
  • Xserve: early 2009

The two state solution

You can't rely on peaceful coexistence and full app support when you install a beta OS, but your existing population of files and folders deserve protection if you decide to try the new system on your machine. Always install the OS on a spare Mac, an external drive, or, at worst, on a separate partition on your Mac. 

Follow these steps to create a new partition

  • Launch Disk Utility (Utilities). You'll see your Macintosh HD and any connected internal or external disks listed there. Select your Mac's main drive (the gray drive icon). If your Mac uses an SSD drive then make sure you select that.
  • Click the Plus button to add a new partition to your disk (30GB-40GB should suffice for testing the beta). Name the partition appropriately, "Yosemite Test," for example. Ensure the Format chosen is Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
  • Click Apply, and you'll have a new partition.

You can now install the beta OS on this new partition, while leaving your existing OS untouched. This isn't a perfect solution and you may still experience unexpected snags, but in combination with backups and OS X installers you should be able to find a way towards peaceful and positive coexistence.

Using partitions

To switch between partitions hold down the Option button when your Mac restarts and you'll see a list of available bootable partitions. Alternatively in System Preferences>Startup Disk you can choose which partition to start up from.

Get out of trouble

OS X Yosemite is beta software, which means there's a chance you may encounter an unexpected bug on your system. You may want to return your Mac to OS X Mavericks -- this is why you'll need your backup and USB Mavericks installation drive.

Reinstalling an older version of the OS on your Mac is relatively easy to do, but you will need to delete everything on your drive before you can reinstall Mavericks and transfer all your data from your backup. There's an excellent guide to the process available here.

Also read:

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