Posted By Aaron Wasserman on November 29th, 2023
For well over a decade, Apple has made a practice of releasing annual updates to their operating systems. New OS versions are unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference in late spring, then tested over the summer, with official releases coming in the fall. These OS upgrades often significantly change how your devices work, particularly when it comes to MacOS. Apple has now made it possible to upgrade your OS, and even install pre-release beta OS versions, with just a few clicks.
While the ease of beta release installation can be convenient for developers, it poses risks for most users. As one of Rogue Amoeba’s frontline support technicians, I’ve observed the negative effects MacOS updates sometimes cause. That’s why we always recommend taking things slow when it comes to updating your Mac’s OS, as well as avoiding beta OS versions entirely.
The recent MacOS 14.1 beta update is a case in point, as it introduced substantial breaking changes. Those changes interrupted significant functionality in the then-current versions of our apps. For folks using our apps for production or other critical work, installing a beta version of the OS brought things to a halt until we could issue our own updates. We worked swiftly to debug problems and then ship new versions to restore functionality, but that type of work often requires days or even weeks. Those users who didn’t install MacOS 14.1 betas avoided headaches, blissfully unaware of the hiccups.
Check Your Settings
The aforementioned issue affected a significant number of users who had tested the MacOS 14 (Sonoma) betas over the summer. These users ran into trouble because Apple opted not to reset the beta OS updates setting in MacOS, even after the official Sonoma release shipped. As a result, many users who thought they were now on a normal OS update track were surprised to find themselves running beta versions of MacOS 14.1.
If you tested Sonoma over the summer, you may still be enrolled to receive Apple’s beta software updates. Turning that setting off is strongly recommended. This can be done by going to the General section of System Settings, selecting Software Update and ensuring that Beta Updates are switched off. We recommend disabling Automatic Updates there as well, so that you have full control over scheduling when your Mac’s operating system changes.
Rogue Amoeba’s Test Releases
Since our founding, Rogue Amoeba has provided our users with hundreds of high-quality free updates to our software, containing both bug fixes and enhancements. We also work hard to ensure our software is ready for Apple’s major updates to MacOS. All of that requires a great deal of time and careful testing.
As part of our development process, we provide our own optional access to pre-release versions of our products, called test releases. As the introductory post explained:
Test releases are the precursor to full, official releases of our software, and provide early access to new features and functionality. Though not recommended for those with production systems, these releases are vetted internally, and should be suitable for general use.
If you’re interested in trying out our test releases, see this article for instructions.
β Is For Bugs
For nearly all users, sticking with official releases of both MacOS and our own software is the way to go. If you do plan to test beta versions of MacOS, go into the process knowing that problems may occur, and remember to try our test releases as well. As well, for current compatibility information on all our apps, our Status page is always a helpful resource.
Of course, whether you’re using a beta version of MacOS or a public release, we’re always here to assist. If you notice a problem, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You’ll get a reply from me or one of my colleagues on our friendly Support team.