While most users upgrade their computers to the latest operating system, a handful of enthusiasts love to have options. Whether they require different operating systems for personal or work reasons or want to try the latest without fully committing, these enthusiasts often dual-boot mac by installing two operating systems, such as Ventura and Sonoma .

Today, we'll show you how to dual boot a Mac and simultaneously have macOS Ventura and Sonoma on a single machine. We'll guide you through the advantages of this setup, show you what to do beforehand, how to install everything, and provide a solution if anything goes wrong.

In this article
    1. Check if Your Mac Is Compatible With Sonoma
    2. Free up Space
    3. Back-Up Your Data
    1. Add Another Volume
    2. Install Sonoma on Your Fresh Volume
    3. Switch Between Two MacOS Versions

Advantages of a Dual Boot Mac

Many users opt to dual boot because of the benefits a native installation has over virtual machines. For example, a Mac dual boot isolates each operating system, making them more secure. Such a setup gives you the full performance of a native installation, which a virtual machine can't do.

On the other hand, Apple's APFS file system allows you to create dynamic partitions for each OS, meaning that their size can change and they can adjust. It also means that the only disadvantage of a dual boot system is that it requires you to restart your Mac when you want to switch.

How to Prepare for Creating a Dual Boot MacOS

There are a few things to consider before diving deeper into the installation and dual boot process.

Check if Your Mac Is Compatible With Sonoma

compatibility check before mac dual boot

You'll first need to ensure your Mac model's compatibility with the latest macOS Sonoma. And since you're likely already on macOS Ventura, Sonoma compatibility is the only thing that requires checking.

Any Mac machine from 2017 and later should have no issues installing macOS Sonoma. However, checking Apple's official compatibility list and ensuring your particular Mac model is on there is still highly recommended before continuing with the dual boot.

Free up Space

Once you know that your Mac model is compatible with macOS Sonoma, you can move on to freeing up disk space for its installation. Most dual-boot users partition their disk drives into two halves, with one half for macOS Ventura and the other for macOS Sonoma.

Given this, you need to prepare as little as 20GB, and macOS Sonoma will install without a problem. You can get enough free space by deleting unnecessary files, temporary data, and other large items taking up valuable disk space.

Back-Up Your Data

Every major OS update brings a dose of risk to your Mac's data. Even if you have a relatively new Mac compatible with macOS Sonoma, there's still a chance of data loss. Preparing for such unpleasant situations and backing up your data is vital. You can do that with an external drive and Mac's Time Machine app, and here's how:

  1. Launch your Mac's System Settings.
  2. Navigate to General > Time Machine.
  3. Tap on Add Backup Disk and select the external drive you want to use for backups.
    add backup disk for time machine
  4. Give the Mac time to create the backup as you track its progress in the menu bar.
    track the backup progress
icon note
Note: Alternatively, if you only have a few essential files, you can use a tiny USB drive and copy and paste your crucial files on it before proceeding with the dual boot operation.

How to Dual Boot a Macbook

Now that everything is prepared for a Mac dual boot, we can dive deeper into macOS Sonoma's installation steps. Below are detailed step-by-step instructions on creating a partition, installing Sonoma, and booting into both operating systems.

Add Another Volume

The first thing you'll need to do is create a partition for macOS Sonoma. Fortunately, Apple has made this task effortless, and all you need is Disk Utility. Here's what you should do inside it:

  1. Navigate to Applications > Utilities and open Disk Utility.
  2. Select your internal storage device and hit the Plus button to add another volume.
    create a new partition
  3. Name it Sonoma and hit Add.
    add a volume for macos sonoma
  4. Click Done when Disk Utility completes.

It's worth noting that, by default, Disk Utility will use the APFS format and divide your storage device into two dynamic partitions that share the drive's space. If one takes up more than half the space, the other partition will decrease its size and adjust, hence the dynamic aspect.

Install Sonoma on Your Fresh Volume

Once you've divided the internal storage device and prepared a partition for Apple's latest OS version, we can move on to the installation process.

  1. Find and download macOS Sonoma from the App Store.
  2. Launch the Sonoma installer from the Launchpad or within the Applications folder and follow the instructions.
  3. Once you're at the disk window, tap on Show All Disks.
    show all disks during installation
  4. Choose the newly created Sonoma volume and hit Continue.
    choose the sonoma volume for installation
  5. Follow the installation instructions, add a password if necessary, and let the Mac install Sonoma.

The installation process can take up to an hour, depending on your HDD/SSD's speed, and you'll be prompted to restart your Mac once done.

Switch Between Two MacOS Versions

select which macos version to boot

When everything finishes installing, and you restart your Mac, you should be able to boot from both operating systems. Switching between these macOS versions requires only a restart, and you can then select between macOS Ventura or Sonoma.

Alternatively, you can set the default booting option, which will automatically boot one OS over the other if you don't choose any option during the few seconds at the boot screen. Here's how to do that:

  1. Navigate to System Settings > General > Startup Disk.
  2. Click the Lock icon to unlock settings.
  3. Select your preferred macOS version by clicking its startup disk and hitting Restart.
    choose a startup disk

However, if you don't see two startup disks after a restart, it means something has gone wrong, and you might have even lost your data.

How to Recover Data if Something Goes Wrong

Performing a dual boot can be dangerous because of potential data loss, especially if you haven't backed up your data beforehand. There's a chance that the operation doesn't work due to various reasons, and you may end up losing your critical files.

That being said, you're not helpless in those frustrating situations. Recovering your crucial data is still possible, and all you need is the right tool for the job – a data recovery app. These dedicated tools have become incredibly efficient at what they do, and Wondershare Recoverit stands out as a perfect weapon for dealing with data loss.

Wondershare Recoverit
  • Manages over 500 data loss situations, such as deletion, formatting, and disk corruption.
  • The user-friendly interface allows you to recover data in just a few clicks.
recoverit boxrecoverit logo

The following guide can help you deal with data loss during a failed dual boot:

  1. Open Recoverit, tap Hard Drives and Locations, and click the OS disk drive.
    launch wondershare recoverit on your mac
  2. The app will immediately start scanning for lost data.
    start the scan for lost files
  3. You can adjust filters to speed up the scan process when dealing with data on a massive scale.
    adjust filters for a faster scan
  4. You can also preview files before recovering them.
    preview found pictures
  5. If you're satisfied with the files the app has found, you can pause or stop the scan and save the recovered files. Alternatively, you can let Recoverit finish the entire scan.
    save recovered files to your mac

Conclusion

Updating your Mac to the latest macOS version is an excellent idea, and Sonoma undoubtedly brings improvements and features that make it worthwhile. However, there's also the option of a Mac dual boot, which lets you install Sonoma alongside Ventura. That can be perfect for people who want to experience the latest macOS version without committing to it entirely.

The dual-boot option also brings benefits over a virtual machine installation, letting you experience the complete performance and functionality of each OS. Therefore, we've included thorough dual boot preparation, installation, and switching guides with detailed instructions for your convenience.

It's also worth mentioning that both updating to the latest macOS version and using dual boot can be risky due to potential data loss. Fear not, though, because if that happens, you can use a dedicated data recovery tool like Wondershare Recoverit to get your files back quickly.

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FAQ

  • Can I adjust the size of the Sonoma partition?
    Absolutely! While Disk Utility creates dynamic partitions where each one can access the storage device's entire size, there is a way of creating static volumes with dedicated storage space. If you look at Step 3 of “Add Another Volume,” you'll see that you can click on Size Options. It'll open a dialogue where you can adjust the “Reserve Size” and “Quota Size,” which will let you manually manage APFS volumes.
  • Can I dual-boot macOS with Windows?
    Yes, you can, but only on older Macs with Intel chips. Namely, while Windows users will have difficulties installing macOS on PC, Apple users can add a Windows installation to their Intel-based Macs. That's because Apple has a built-in feature called Boot Camp, which lets you install Windows OS on a Mac. However, the Boot Camp feature has been discontinued for Apple Silicon Macs.
  • Is macOS Sonoma faster than macOS Ventura?
    Yes. Sonoma is newer than Ventura, and, like each new OS version, it's faster than the old one. However, the performance differences aren't that great, as all Apple's OS versions from the past few years have been able to take advantage of Apple Silicon chips. On the other hand, Sonoma might drain more battery due to live screensavers and desktop widgets.
Alex Nappi
Alex Nappi May 14, 24
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