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How to get back from macOS Monterey


Any major update to macOS carries a certain risk. Especially if it’s a beta. It may not work perfectly on your Mac, there are speed issues, or some features are unavailable. For example, early beta users report that Universal Control is not available with the Monterey beta. This is a big frustration for many because Universal Control could be the only reason why you have updated at all.

No wonder some people want to move from Monterey to Big Sur. In this article, we explain how to do it safely with a few apps and a few minutes of your time.

Restore macOS Monterey to the older version in 5 steps

If you have cleanly installed macOS Monterey, the process will not seem very new to you. Some work on the terminal is included, plus you’ll need a good backup tool, a 16GB USB drive and – surprise, surprise – your Mac. Ready to go back? Here’s how it works.

Step 1. Back up your files

If you’ve only recently updated to Monterey and now want to revert to an older version, you may think you haven’t accumulated enough files worth backing up. Well, that could be a mistake. A funny picture you saved from a chat, a report you worked on, a PDF sent to you by a colleague – every little thing will disappear from your Mac once you upgrade. So take a moment and make a backup, it will only take a few minutes with Get Backup Pro.

Get Backup Pro is a great alternative to Apple’s original Time Machine – superior in every way possible. It can make scheduled backups, boot disk clones and, most importantly, back up only essential files, which minimizes the amount of clutter that backups cause. Here’s how to back up your data before reverting to an older version:

  1. Open Get Backup Pro and start a new backup project (“+” button)
  2. Name your backup and select the external drive to save it to
  3. Add files and folders to Backup> Start.

Since you will probably only add important files, it will take much less time to back up than you would spend on Time Machine.

Updating and restoring to macOS is a great opportunity to clean up your Mac. Consider entering your new macOS life with minimal system clutter and great Mac performance.

CleanMyMac X scans every corner of your Mac, revealing redundant files, misbehaving applications, old caches, and all sorts of junk your system generates over time. What’s more, it can identify malware and suggest optimization tasks that will make your Mac faster. Meet two needs in one go – back up and clean your Mac while reverting to an older version. You can clean up first and then back up everything that is left to avoid manually selecting files. Or just keep a CleanMyMac X on hand for regular cleaning, it’s the best investment you can make in your Mac.

remove unwanted files

Step 2. Install macOS Big Sur on the boot disk

After deleting Monterey from your Mac (we’ll do that later), you’ll need to install Big Sur from the boot disk. You may have prepared it and you can skip this step. Otherwise, format the USB drive (minimum 16 GB) and get the Big Sur installer:

  1. When the external drive is connected to your Mac, open Terminal
  2. Type the following command: sudo / Applications / Install macOS Big Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume / Volumes / MyVolume
  3. Click Back
  4. Enter your administrator password if prompted
  5. Confirm your action
  6. Close and eject the disc.

Note: If you need to format the disc first, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the drive to your Mac
  2. Access Utilities> Disk Utility
  3. Click Delete next to the associated drive
  4. Select APFS or macOS Extended and confirm that you want to delete it.

Step 3. Delete Monterey

You can now reduce macOS Monterey by deleting it from your disk:

  1. On the Apple menu, click the Restart button
  2. Press and hold Command + R to restart in Recovery
  3. Access Disk Utility> click Disk> Erase
  4. Select APFS or macOS Extended and confirm that you want to delete it.

delete macOS Monterey from your disk using Disk Utility

Step 4. Reinstall Big Sur

For this step, make sure your Mac is connected to the network and that your boot disk is connected to your Mac. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. On the Apple menu, click the Restart button
  2. Press and hold Option
  3. You will see a window with boot disk options – select Big Sur installer
  4. Click Continue and reinstall macOS 11. The whole process may take some time.

What if booting from an external drive doesn’t work?

It may have something to do with startup permissions. On newer Macs (2018 and newer) there may be a problem that they do not allow booting from external media by default. You can easily fix this:

  1. Restart your Mac and enter recovery mode (Command + R)
  2. Go to Utilities> Startup Security Utility
  3. Enter the firmware password
  4. Select “Allow booting from external media” in External Boot.

Step 5. Restore the backup

Now that Big Sur has been reinstalled, it’s time to restore the files you created. If you used Time Machine, you must restart your Mac and run Recovery. Then go to Utilities> Restore from Time Machine Backup> Continue. Select the source of the backup, then the backup itself and restore your data. When done, your Mac will restart.

To restore a Get Backup Pro backup, simply open the application, select a backup from the list, and click Restore. So easy.

Applications that replace macOS Monterey functions on Big Sur

List one thing you will miss about macOS Monterey. Now smile, because chances are high that you won’t have to miss it. Here are Setapp apps and small collections of apps that replace some of Monterey’s best features:

Live Text

Live Text on macOS 12 lets you select text on photos (so you can copy it). With the TextSniper application, this feature is completely covered. Moreover, TextSniper allows you to extract text from any visual content – YouTube videos, slides, movie scenes, images, anything.

Live Text Alternative

Quick Note

With Quick Note, an update for Notes, you can record ideas and save links on the go. When you want to add something to Notes, just save it in a quick note that appears wherever you work – in an app, desktop, or browser.

Setappians get a duo of applications that replace this Notes update – NotePlan and Ghostnote. NotePlan is undoubtedly a stronger alternative to Notes, with things like two-way connections, calendar, task scheduling and more. Ghostnote does the same thing as Quick Note – it adds contextual notes wherever you work. Together they make a great match.

alternatives for Quick Note

Focus mode

Focus mode comes on the Mac to help you filter out distractions. It’s an enhanced version of Don’t Disturb that lets you adjust notification settings based on what you’re doing – doing, watching YouTube, or uploading music. For example, you can turn off all notifications except when your partner sends you a message.

Setapp will help you set up a more personalized workspace with four apps that are all part of one membership. NoNotify provides a customized Do Not Disturb mode for each app – you decide which apps can bother you and when. Session and Be Focused are two great Pomodoro applications for focused work. The first is great for creative tasks, when you need to think about your work sessions. And the latter is a good choice for routine work, crossing out obligations from the list. Finally, One Switch allows you to go beyond the notification center and put all your frequently used switches in the menu.

Alternative tools for focus mode

You can try out the complete Setapp package for 7 days for free and replace all three of the above Monterey functions with Setapp applications. What’s more, you get CleanMyMac X, Get Backup Pro, and many other essential apps to help you safely run macOS updates and keep your Mac in great condition.



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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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