[Tutorial] How to Install macOS Sonoma on a Separate APFS Volume

Jerome Peng
Last updated: Sep 27, 2023
Looking for how to install macOS Sonoma on a separate APFS volume? Look no further. This article from Dr. Buho will guide you through the detailed steps.

Since the release of macOS 14 Sonoma by Apple, an increasing number of Mac users have expressed interest in experiencing its new features. As you know, new macOS versions frequently come with unexpected bugs that can cause you big trouble. This is why Apple suggests installing the new macOS on an alternative Mac rather than your primary one. However, what if you only have one Mac? Is it possible to dual-boot macOS on that one Mac?

The answer is YES. It is indeed possible to install macOS Sonoma on a separate APFS volume. Read on to learn how to make this happen.

[Tutorial] How to Install Macos Sonoma on a Separate APFS Volume

How to Install macOS Sonoma on a Separate APFS Volume

Step #1 Check Mac Compatibility

macOS Sonoma has dropped support for most Intel Macs. Here are all the Mac models it supports:

  • iMac (2019 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2018 and later)
  • Mac Mini (2018 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2019 and later)
  • Mac Studio (2022 and later)

Step #2 Back Up Your Mac

Backing up your Mac is very important, especially if you are upgrading your system. We emphasize this because unexpected issues can arise during an upgrade, and the best way to protect your data is to create a backup of your Mac beforehand.

The easiest way to create a Mac backup is to use Time Machine. You'll need an external hard drive that's at least twice the size of the data you're backing up.

If this is your first time backing up your Mac, it is recommended that you use the best Mac cleaner, BuhoCleaner, to clean up your Mac to reduce the backup file size and backup time.

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Step #3 Add an APFS Volume

With your Mac backed up, you can go ahead and add a new APFS volume in preparation for installing macOS Sonoma.

  1. Make sure your Mac is running macOS High Sierra or later.
  2. Launch Disk Utility via Spotlight.
  3. In the sidebar, select your existing APFS volume, such as Macintosh HD.
  4. Click the Add Volume (+) button in the Disk Utility toolbar to create a new volume.
  5. Rename the volume, such as macOS Sonoma, then click Add. (No need to change the default APFS format.)
  6. Quit Disk Utility.
Create a New Volume on Internal Drive

Step #4 Download macOS 14 Sonoma Full Installer

Under normal circumstances, you can quickly upgrade to macOS Sonoma via the Software Update. Just click the Apple Menu > System Settings > General > Software Update, then check for updates and follow the instructions to download macOS Sonoma.

Upgrade to macOS Sonoma

If you want to get the full macOS Sonoma installation package directly, click the link below:

MacOS Sonoma 14.5 InstallAssistant.pkg


Once the download is complete, open the .pkg file and follow the instructions to complete the installation. After that, you'll find the macOS Sonoma installer in the Applications folder.

The full macOS Sonoma installer is approximately 13 GB, and the installation needs more space to store temporary files. Therefore, make sure you have cleared enough storage space to successfully install macOS Sonoma on a separate volume. If you're low on storage space, give BuhoCleaner a try. It's the ideal tool for cleaning up your Mac.
DownloadFor macOS 10.10 and above
100,000+ Satisfied Users Worldwide

Step #5 Install macOS Sonoma on the New Volume

Now that you have your new APFS volume and macOS Sonoma full installer ready, follow the steps below to install it on the new volume.

  1. Open Finder > Applications > Install macOS Sonoma.
  2. Click Continue > Agree and confirm again.
    Install macOS Sonoma
  3. Click Show All Disks, select the volume you created, and click Continue.
    Install macOS Sonoma on a Partion
  4. Enter your administrator password to allow the installation.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to install macOS Sonoma.
  6. After the installation is complete, set up your Mac.
To switch between macOS versions, just click System Settings > General > Startup Disk, select the system you want to use, and click Restart.

Final Words

By following the steps above, you should have successfully installed macOS Sonoma on a separate APFS volume. Now you can enjoy two versions of macOS on one Mac.

It's worth noting that having two macOS versions means more storage space is required. If you're running low on storage space, your Mac might become sluggish, or encounter the spinning rainbow wheel. To avoid these issues, we highly recommend that you regularly use BuhoCleaner to clean and optimize your Mac.

Jerome is a passionate enthusiast of all things Apple. He is expertise in crafting tech-related articles, with a portfolio of more than 100 articles covering various Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.