Software downloads: Frequently asked questions

Get the answers to frequently asked questions about Apple software downloads.

The Apple Software Downloads library is a collection of software updates to help keep your Apple products running smoothly. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with answers to assist you, if you are not familiar with downloading software from the Apple website.

What is best way to download free software I need for my Apple product?

Use Software Update

Apple frequently releases official software updates that you can download. Software Update makes it easy get exactly what you need--simply choose Software Update from the Apple () menu. You can set Software Update's preferences to have it check daily, weekly, or monthly for updates.

Note: Mac OS X v10.5 and later can automatically run Software Update checks in the background and let you know when an update is available for your computer, or download important updates automatically. See Scheduled Check pane of Software Update preferences.

To learn more, see Mac OS X: Updating your software.

Download from Apple Support Downloads

Another way to find the latest software downloads is to visit Apple Support Downloads, where you can:

  • Search by product
  • View recent downloads
  • See featured Apple software updates
  • Download older software
  • Find links to third-party downloads

Do I need to download updates on Apple's download page and through Software Update?

If you are getting the updates via Software Update, there is no reason to download them from If you are unable to use Software Update, downloading from our support site is the best alternative.

For information about updating apps that were purchased from the Mac App Store, see this article.


What is the difference between an update and an upgrade?

An Apple software update updates a major (reference release) version of software, but does not upgrade it to the next major version (if one exists). Software updates are made available via download from the Software Update application in Mac OS X and typically provide fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac. For example, Apple provided the Mac OS X v10.6.8 Update as a software update to Mac OS X v10.6.

An Apple software upgrade means a major, standalone version of a software product. Such products are usually something you purchase. Mac OS X upgrades are sometimes also called "reference releases."

With Mac OS X v10.6.7 or later, you can check the Mac App Store for available upgrades, such as OS X Lion.

See Software update, upgrade--what's the difference? for more information.

How frequently are software updates posted?

Answer: Apple does not have a fixed schedule for releasing software updates.

How do I search the Apple Support Downloads?

Answer: Apple Support Downloads displays the latest updates available. You can search Apple Support Downloads by entering a keyword into the search field or by choosing a product category.

How do I find the latest driver for my printer?

Answer: Software Update will automatically provide you with third-party printer software and updates. Additionally, before you connect your printer:

  • Run Software Update to check for the latest third-party printer software and updates.
  • Make sure the printer is powered on, has paper, and doesn't have any issues such as a paper jam or low ink.

See also: If you see a message offering to download and install software for a printer.


Are Software updates available for FTP download?

Answer: Not directly. You can download via Safari.

I get an alert when trying to download using Software Update, what should I?

Answer: If you see an alert when downloading via Software Update, you can go to Apple Support Downloads, download the update, and install it manually.

See also: If you can’t download or install an update.

Learn more

See Software Downloads: Formats and Common Error Messages.

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