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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

macOS Sierra public beta arrives today

The first macOS Sierra public beta is rolling out later today, according to Apple. Presumably based on the same or similar code to the second developer beta of macOS Sierra, this one’s available to everyone who’s in Apple’s Beta Software Program. Once you’re in the program and on the public-beta train, new public-beta updates will appear in the normal Software Update system throughout the summer, and you’ll be upgraded to the final version in the fall.

For a whole lot more about macOS Sierra, check out my hands-on article from last month.

Among the changes in this public beta are a bunch of bug fixes and a new keyboard shortcut for Siri: holding down the command key and the spacebar until Siri activates.

This will be an interesting public beta cycle for Apple; though the company doesn’t use its customers’ photos as the basis for the machine learning photo engine inside Photos, the public beta should be one of the first major tests of the engine. I’m curious if Apple will solicit users’ photos as a way to test its functionality, and gauge user feedback about how well it’s working so far.

And this is a key point of being on the public-beta train: using the Feedback Assistant app to tell Apple about bad stuff you see, and things you don’t like. Just as developers know to use Apple’s web-based bug reporter, users of the public beta should use Feedback Assistant to let Apple know if things just aren’t working right.

After all, this is a beta. Things will change and improve over the summer. And if you’re up for the challenge you can help.

Before you run to install the beta, some final words of advice: Back up all your data. Don’t install this on your main Mac’s main hard drive—either use a secondary computer or a separate partition or an external drive. And never work with data that you aren’t also backing up somewhere else, especially if you’re testing out the new iCloud and space-saving features.

See more macOS Sierra coverage.

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