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How to Download and Install macOS Sierra Public Beta

If you like the idea of telling your Mac to do your bidding, today is the day you can start barking orders. The public beta of macOS Sierra is now available for download, which brings Siri to the Mac for the first time, along with a host of features that make Macs and iPhones work better together.

To get macOS Sierra, just go to beta.apple.com and download the public beta. Apple says that this version of the software offers stability updates and fixes from the developer preview, a different keyboard shortcut for Siri (now command-space-hold) and adds Auto Unlock (though that feature only works for those who have the developer beta of watchOS 3.)

MORE: Which MacBook Should You Buy? MacBook vs. Air vs. Pro

With macOS Sierra, you can tell Siri to do everything from search for files using natural language (like "Show me the files I worked on yesterday.") and adjust your computer's settings ("Turn off Bluetooth.") to opening apps, setting reminders and finding movies to watch.

Based on my testing of the developer preview of macOS Sierra, I found Siri to be inconsistent, but when it worked, it was a real time-saver. I'm hoping the accuracy improves.

Other highlights of Sierra include improvements to the Messages app, such as Tapbacks for responding with pictoral replies (like thumbs up and hearts), bigger emoji and rich links for things like YouTube videos that can be embedded right in your thread. Other features, such as a nifty Invisible Ink feature, will have to wait until the pubic beta of iOS 10 rolls out.

Photos also gets a major facelift in macOS Sierra, with a new Memories feature that automatically creates highlight videos and the ability to automatically group your pics by people and places. 

The best is really yet to come though with Apple's new OS. Once iOS 10 becomes available for iPhones in beta form this month, you'll be able to use your phone to pay for stuff on the web via Apple Pay, as well as cut and paste items back and forth between your Mac and iPhone with the innovative Universal Clipboard feature. 

How to Install the macOS Sierra Beta on your Mac

Before you start, make sure to make a backup. The beta is not final, and may have bugs.

1. Go to beta.apple.com.
2. Click Sign up.

3. Sign in with your Apple ID and password. If you have two-factor authentication enabled, enter the code from your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or SMS message.

4. Click “enroll your Mac” in the Get Started section.

5. Scroll to “Install the macOS Sierra public beta.”

6. Copy your redemption code and click Redeem Code.

7. Enter the code and click “Redeem.”

8. The beta will begin to download. If it doesn’t, go to App Store > Purchases to download it.

9. Click Continue on the installer.

10. If you have a backup, click Continue. If not, make a backup now. It's your last chance.

11. Agree with the Terms of Service.

12. Pick a disk and press install.

13. Click Restart.

It took us roughly half an hour to install after downloading. When it restarts, sign in with your Apple ID.

14. Accept the Terms and Conditions (yes, again).

15, Decide whether or not to set up iCloud Keychain. Click Continue.

16. Pick your FileVault options and click Continue.

17. Your Mac will finish setting up, and you'll be ready to use the macOS Sierra beta.

Additional contributions by Andrew E. Freedman

macOS High Sierra Tips

Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.