How to update your Mac: Mac OS & installed apps

By Connie | Posted to Home > Howto, on October 28th, 2021

Summary: In this post, you'll learn how to update and auto-update your Mac and installed apps. Whether you're using a new or older Mac model running a recent macOS or earlier, this post helps you out. - from iBoysoft

How to update your Mac

Updating your Mac software is very necessary as it improve your Mac's lifespan, compatibility, and security and apply bug fixes. Moreover, it also helps remove viruses from your Mac or solve Mac errors like Your computer restarted because of a problem.

Usually, Apple releases software updates for computers between major upgrades of Mac OS versions. When a software update is available, the system will auto-send notifcation to your Mac device.

You can choose to install the update right now or at another time. If you ignore the notifications, you can also use other ways to update your Mac. This article is here to tell you how to update your Mac and the installed apps.

Quick Navigation:

How to update your Mac?

Apart from patching security holes and fixing bugs, software updates on your MacBook Pro and MacBook Air sometimes cover firmware updates and first-party apps enhancements.

If you have a Mac that runs macOS Mojave 10.14 or later, you can update your Mac through the following steps:

  • Open the Apple menu and click System Preferences.
  • Click Software Update in the System Preferences window.
  • Open Software Update in System Preferences
  • Check if there's any update available. If it has, click Update Now to update your Mac. You can click More Info to see more details about the updates and choose the desired one.

Now, your Mac will be updated after restarting. If you want your Mac to update automatically, you can check the Automatically keep my Mac up to date option on the Software Update window.

Update your Mac automatically

If your Mac runs macOS High Sierra or earlier, there's no Software Update option in System Preferences. The way to update your Mac is different in macOS High Sierra or earlier:

  • Click the Apple menu > App Store.
  • Select the Updates tab. You can see all the available updates listed there.
  • Click More in the Software Update column to see all the updates.
  • Click Restart next to the Software Update label.

Then, your Mac finishes the software update after restarting. To automatically update your Mac computer, you can select Preferences in the Apple Store drop-down menu and check Automatic Updates.

Open the Preferences option in App Store

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How to update apps on your Mac?

Updating apps can enable them to be compatible with the updated OS and allow you to enjoy all the latest features they added with bugs patched.

Commonly, a software update contains first-party apps updates, including Safari, iTunes, Books, Messages, Mail, FaceTime, Calendar, and Photos.

For other first-party apps (such as iMovie, Keynote) and the Apple-approved third-party software, you need to update them in App Store.

Here's how:

  • Open the Apple menu > App Store.
  • Select Updates and check if there's an app update available and update them.

If you want the installed apps to update automatically, you can open App Store from the Apple menu bar at the upper left of your screen and check Automatic Updates.

For apps not installed from the App Store of your Mac, most of them can be auto-updated periodically. If not, you can check their notifications and update them from the notifications. Or, download their latest versions from the corresponding official sites to update them.

What do you do if your Mac won't update?

If your Mac freezes or is stuck during the update process, you can try the following ways:

Restart your Mac and check the Log screen

You can shut down your Mac and then restart it after waiting a few seconds. Then, open Software Update under System Preferences (macOS Mojave or later) or Updates under App Store (macOS High Sierra or earlier).

When the update progress bar pops up, press the Command - L keys to check if the files are being installed in the Log screen. If not, try the next solution.

Check your storage space

If your Mac doesn't have enough free space for the update, your update will fail. You can clean up the unnecessary files from your Mac to make room for the upcoming update. Then, try to update your Mac again.

Check the storage of your Mac

Install the Combo update

If nothing moves in the Log screen after you make enough room for your update, it shows the update process still freezes.

You can go to the Apple website to find a Combo updater that includes the necessary files to update Mac OS. Download your desired one and use it to update your Mac.

How to upgrade your Mac to the next version?

When a new Mac OS version is released, the latest Mac update will be available in the Software Update window under System Preferences (Or in Updates window under App Store).

You can click the Upgrade Now or Upgrade button to download and update your macOS, like the latest macOS Monterey.

Upgrade to macOS Monterey in Software Update

But before upgrading your Mac, you should do some preparations, including checking the software and hardware compatibility, backing up your Mac, ensuring there's enough space for upgrading, etc.

Data lost after Mac update, what to do?

Unfortunately, you run into a similar situation as other Mac users ever encountered - files lost after updating macOS. If you've backed up your Mac recently, you can restore the lost files from the backup. Or, you can also try to find them from iCloud.

If you have no backup or fail to retrieve files from your iCloud, you can try to use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to recover lost data after the macOS update. This Mac data recovery software supports recovering data in various situations, such as the data lost after macOS upgrade or update, data lost due to your drive corruption, etc.

With high compatibility, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac supports macOS 12/11/10.15 and earlier versions. More importantly, it also supports Intel-based and Apple M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max Mac.

Final thoughts

Anyway, updating your Mac periodically can enhance the performance of your Mac. You can follow the steps in this post to update your Mac and the installed apps.

But note that updating your Mac may fail and lead to data loss, you'd better back up your Mac before updating. If that unfortunate thing happens, you can use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to help you get the lost data back.

FAQs about how to update Mac:

1. Can a Mac be too old to update?

All macOS versions have their corresponding updates. Even an old Mac running an old macOS version has available updates. If you want to upgrade your old Mac, you can check on support.apple.com to ensure that the macOS you'll upgrade to is compatible with your old Mac.

2. Why can't I find a software update on my Mac?

The Software Update option is in the System Preferences under the Apple menu bar. If you can't find it in the System Preferences window, your Mac runs macOS 10.13 High Sierra or earlier. You can update your Mac with the Updates option in App Store.