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If you’re eager to get your hands on OS X Yosemite, Apple has released its upcoming operating system as a free beta for the first million downloaders.

Though Yosemite has been available to registered members of the Mac Developer Program since June, Apple has for the first time in its history decided to give customers a taste of the upcoming software in. The public beta should be stable enough for most regular users, but issues are bound to arise and some third-party programs may not yet work.

To download OS X Yosemite you will need a valid Apple ID, and your Mac should already be running Mavericks 10.9.3. If you’re not familiar with the installation process, be sure to read through this guide for all the steps.

Prepare Your Mac

First off, as with any major software update, be sure to back up to Time Machine 4 Resources to Become a Backup Master with Time Machine [Mac] 4 Resources to Become a Backup Master with Time Machine [Mac] Read More , and to a bootable drive using Carbon Copy Cloner Carbon Copy Cloner - A Free & Powerful Backup Utility (Mac) Carbon Copy Cloner - A Free & Powerful Backup Utility (Mac) Read More or SuperDuper The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] As the developer here at MakeUseOf and as someone who earns their entire income from working online, it's fair to say my computer and data are quite important. They’re set up perfectly for productivity with... Read More .

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There are three ways you can install Yosemite on your Mac: on a separate partition (which Apple suggests), to an external hard drive (not recommended) or by replacing the current Mavericks OS (also not recommended). The following describes how to create a partition on your Mac’s hard drive, so you can test Yosemite without harming your Mac.

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Create A Partition

Before you download and install Yosemite, you need to partition your Mac.

1. Launch Disk Utility and select your startup drive, then select Partition. You should have enough free space on your Mac to create at least a 20GB partition for Yosemite.

2. Click the plus “+” button at the bottom of the partition layout to create another partition. Select it input the amount space you want (Apple recommends 8GB minimum, but you’ll need 20GB to test it properly). Under Format, select the Mac OS Extended (Journal) from the drop-down list. Name your partition “Yosemite Test” or similar so you know which one to delete when the time comes.

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3. Click Apply to start the partition process. Make sure the pop-up dialogue box says that no partitions will be erased, especially your main startup drive.

Download & Install The Beta Installer

To download Yosemite, you will need to join the OS X Beta Program using your Apple ID. After signing in and reading over the guide, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue redemption code button. Once you’ve confirmed and read the information, the Mac App Store will launch then you can sign in and begin downloading the Yosemite Installer application, which is a little over 5GB.

The Yosemite Installer is downloaded to your Applications folder. When installer opens up, select the Yosemite partition you created, and click the install button. If you want to try Yosemite on other Macs, make sure you take a copy of the installer before you run it.

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To install the beta, simply run the installer you just downloaded. When prompted, carefully select the partition you created earlier, as per the screenshot above. Follow the prompts, until eventually your Mac restarts to complete the installation.

Don’t Use iCloud Drive

After the installer restarts your Mac and installs Yosemite, you will be presented with a series of questions similar to the ones you got when installing Mavericks.

You should avoid upgrading to iCloud Drive if you rely on devices using older versions of OS X or iOS, due to incompatibilities between the new iCloud Drive and older software. You can enable iCloud Drive under System Preferences > iCloud after the official release.

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To get back to Mavericks while in Yosemite, launch System Preferences > Startup Disk. Select your main drive and click restart. You can also hold down the option (alt) key at startup and choose your partition from there.

When it comes to installing Yosemite proper, upgrade from within your Mavericks installation and then you can use Disk Utility to delete the test partition you created for the beta.

Testing Yosemite

We’ll be covering the major developments and features of Yosemite in the months to come and after its full release. For now, check out Tim’s overview for what’s new in OS X 10.10, What's New In OS X 10.10 "Yosemite"? What's New In OS X 10.10 "Yosemite"? OS X is evolving both in terms of looks and features, and just like last year's Mavericks update, Yosemite will be another free download. Read More  and let us know what you think so far.

Do you like Apple’s new direction with OS X Yosemite? Did you download the beta? Let us know in the comments!

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