How to download and install OS X 10.10 Yosemite early

At WWDC on Monday, Apple unveiled the latest version of OS X, codenamed Yosemite. The final release is scheduled for this autumn, but if you’re a Mac user, you’re probably eager to get your hands on it as soon as possible. See also: Apple unveils iOS 8 a WWDC 2014.

How to download and install OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta

The good news is that, for the first time ever, Apple is running a public beta programme, allowing volunteer testers to download a preview of Yosemite for free. Be warned though: if you choose to install a beta OS, you do so at your own risk, and you can expect to run up against bugs and incomplete features. That’s the whole point of the beta, and a Feedback Assistant application is included for reporting such experiences to Apple.

How to download and install OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta

It’s also worth noting that if you sign up, you’re agreeing to some limitations on what you can publicly say about the software. Even though details of the new OS are all over the web, the website instructs beta testers not to “blog, post screen shots, tweet or publicly post information about the pre-release Apple software … and don’t discuss the pre-release Apple software with or demonstrate it to others who are not in the OS X Beta Programme.”

This is only a temporary stricture, though. When the final code arrives, you’ll be able to upgrade to it directly from the beta, and everything will be back to normal.

If you want to sign up for the beta programme, you can do so via Apple’s Software Customer Seeding site. At the time of writing, the programme is still accepting new sign-ups, but it’s limited to the first million registrations – yes, you read that correctly – and it remains to be seen how quickly they’ll be snapped up. The beta download isn’t yet online, but Apple promises it will be available “soon”.

How to download and install OS X 10.10 Yosemite as a developer

If the beta programme gets filled up before you can register – or if you’re an advanced user seeking access not only to the OS but also to supporting documentation and other resources – then an alternative way to get early access is by signing up to the Mac Developer programme. Participants receive a unique code for the Mac App Store which lets them download a Developer Preview release of the OS as an optional software update.

Like beta testers, developers agree to a confidentiality clause. But a developer subscription costs money – £60 a year, to be precise. Considering that the final release of Yosemite will be free, it’s a lot to pay if you simply want to play with the new OS for a few months before the official launch. Developers also get access to unreleased betas of minor updates (such as the inevitable OS X 10.10.1), but since a subscription lasts only for a year, if you take one out now it may well run out before you see a developer preview of OS X 10.11.

How to download and install OS X 10.10 Yosemite as a developer

Historically, developers have received not only the initial preview of the forthcoming OS but also a stream of pre-release updates, as bugs are fixed and feature updates are rolled into the main code. It’s not currently clear whether the same will apply to the beta release: Apple explicitly warns that “there is no guarantee that participants in the OS X Beta Programme will be given access to the same updates of OS X that the Mac Developer Programme receives.”

Signing up as a developer may therefore get you a more complete and stable preview – but if you’re merely hankering for a glimpse of the future, we suspect the free beta will be a more attractive option.

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