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How to Clean Install macOS Monterey

Written by John

The 18th major release of macOS is the macOS Monterey, the successor to macOS Big Sur. Apple announced the new operating system at WWDC 2021. The new macOS Monterey is better than Big Sur and comes loaded with lots of interesting features. Apple has made the latest operating system available for many older Macs. However, some of the advanced features in macOS Monterey have hardware requirements, and therefore only newer Macs will be able to use them.

macOS Monterey focused on new technical features, updates to Apple’s apps, and privacy modifications. Some of the really exciting features to look out for in macOS Monterey are Universal Control, Live Text and Visual Look Up, iCloud+, Shortcuts, Updates to Mac Apps, and Privacy improvements.

While there is already a lot of excitement around the technical improvements in the latest operating system, you can get to know more about the new changes and how they can be helpful to you in your work with a clean install macOS 12 Monterey.

Especially with Install macOS Monterey with bootable USB, you may encounter “Installation cannot proceed because the installer is damaged” error. Follow tutorial: Install macOS Monterey with Install Assistant to fix this.

macOS 12 Monterey Compatibility

Before you clean install macOS 12 Monterey, you need to know if your machine is compatible to run the latest operating system. Here is the list of all the compatible Macs that can run the new macOS.

  • ‌MacBook Air‌ - Early 2015 and later
  • MacBook Pro - Early 2015 and later
  • MacBook - Early 2016 and later
  • Mac mini - Late 2014 and later
  • ‌iMac‌ - Late 2015 and later
  • ‌iMac‌ Pro - 2017 and later
  • Mac Pro - Late 2013 and later

How to Clean Install macOS 12 Monterey 

You need to follow a few steps to clean install macOS 12 Monterey. By ensuring that you follow these steps below, you will have a clean installation of the latest macOS.

Step 1: Backup your Mac with Time Machine

It is important to backup your Mac so that you do not lose your applications and files. Your Mac has an in-built backup feature called the Time Machine. You will need to have an External Storage device to create a backup of your Mac. Connect your External storage to the Mac and select it as the backup disk for Time Machine to make backups. You can configure Time Machine to make hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months to your external storage. Ensure that you have sufficient capacity in the external storage or otherwise the oldest backups are deleted when your disk is full.

Step 2: Downloading macOS 12 Monterey

Go to your Mac App Store and click on Get button. Downloading the macOS Monterey final version like you would have downloaded any other application.

Now, go to System Preferences > Software Update. Your Mac will check for new software and show macOS Monterey Final as available. Click on “Upgrade Now” and your update will be downloaded to the /Applications folder.

Step 3: Create a Bootable USB installer

You need to create a bootable USB installer to clean install macOS 12 Monterey Beta. Follow the instructions below to create a bootable USB drive.

1. Connect the flash drive or USB stick you need to use as a bootable drive.
2. Go to the Applications folder and click on "Utilities" and then select "Disk Utility".
3.Click on "View" and "Show All Devices".
3. In Disk Utility, the drives connected to your Mac will be listed. Select the USB drive and format it as Mac OS EXTENDED (Journaled). You can also select the Master Boot Record for Scheme.

Format USB Drive as MBR and Mac OS Extended

Now, you have to turn the USB drive into a bootable device. The simplest way to do this is by using Terminal. Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Type in the following command:

macOS Monterey 12.0.1 (21A559)

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/Untitled

You have to replace "Untitled" with the name of your USB drive and enter your Password to use Sudo command. 
Create macOS Monterey Final Bootable USB Installer

Click on Ok button to Allow Terminal create a macOS Monterey USB Installer.

Allow Terminal access USB Installer

After the pop-up appears on the screen, your USB drive is ready to install macOS 12 Monterey.

Step 4: Clean Install macOS Monterey 12

After you have a bootable USB drive, follow the instructions below to clean install macOS 12 Monterey Beta.

1. Connect the macOS Monterey USB installer drive to a USB-C port on your Mac
2. Reboot your Mac.
3. This process differs based on whether you have an Intel Mac or Apple Silicon Mac.

  • For Intel Macs, you need to hold the “Option” key during start until the boot selection menu appears.
  • For Apple Silicon M1 Mac, you need to hold the “Power” button during the start until the boot selection screen appears

4. Select the bootable USB drive with macOS Monterey as the boot disk.
5. In the macOS Recovery/Utilities screen, choose “Disk Utility” from the options

Open Disk Utility in Monterey Install Mode

6. In the Disk Utility screen, click on View >  Show All Devices.

format your hard drive

Select the hard drive. Choose a disk name of your choice and go to “Format” and choose APFS as the file system and GUID Partition Map for Scheme. Now, click on “Erase”. This will erase all the data on your Mac permanently.

7. Quit Disk Utility when disk formatting is completed. In the macOS Utilities screen, select “Install macOS Monterey” from the options.

Select Install macOS 12 Monterey

8. Choose the destination disk to install macOS 12 Monterey and click on “Install” to install a clean version of macOS Monterey.

Clean install macOS Monterey 12 on Mac

While the clean installation process is ongoing, do not interrupt it. Your Mac may reboot automatically during the process and you have to wait some time for the process to finish.

Once the installation has finished, your Mac will boot into a fresh version of macOS 12 Monterey. You can either transfer your old data back or proceed to set up your Mac as a brand new device with the latest operating system.

You have to understand that a clean install of macOS 12 Monterey is effectively the same as factory resetting or reformatting your Mac. You can now check out all the interesting features offered by Apple with the latest operating system and test for yourself whether you really like the new additions.

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