Apple’s first generation of M1 Macs is slick, but some early adopters are running into a strange error that can render a new computer unusable. Those attempting to perform a full restore of macOS on an M1-equipped Mac or MacBook before upgrading to macOS Big Sur might experience a system-stopping warning over and over: “An error occurred preparing the update. Failed to personalise the software update. Please try again.”
Most people don’t use the Recovery Tool to wipe and reinstall macOS on a brand-new system. But if you do, make sure you first update to macOS Big Sur to ensure the Mac Recovery tool will work properly.
Those who already took the plunge and tried to restore their machines — even for legitimate reasons like having a clean, blank version of the OS to work with — are probably concerned they permanently damaged their brand-new MacBooks. Thankfully, Apple has a few ways to fix the “failed to personalise the software” error. The first option can be done at home and should work for most people:
- Install macOS from a bootable USB drive. This is the easier of the two DIY methods, but it requires another Mac and an empty USB storage device large enough to hold the installer files. Apple’s support page can guide you through the process.
If this method doesn’t work for some reason, you have two alternatives:
- Use Apple Configurator 2 to “revive” your Mac. This process also requires a second Mac computer, plus a USB cable to connect both devices. With those materials in hand, use Apple’s guide to (hopefully) resurrect your M1 Mac.
- Fix the issue with Terminal in the macOS Recovery tool. If you don’t have a secondary Mac or suitable USB accessories, you can try circumventing the issue using Terminal commands in the Mac Recovery Tool. This is a fairly technical process, but if you follow Apple’s detailed walkthrough, it should work.
If none of those recovery methods work for you, then the final option is to have your new M1 Mac serviced at a local Apple Store or certified repair shop. No matter what, make sure you contact Apple Support to get a sense of your options — especially those that you can handle from home, which will keep you as safe as possible during These Times.