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OS X: Updating OS X and Mac App Store apps

You can get software updates for OS X and apps from the Mac App Store. In Mountain Lion and Mavericks, use Mac App Store for OS X Updates.

Updating your software in OS X Mountain Lion and later

In Mountain Lion and later, software updates come through the Mac App Store.

Notifications that updates are available

Notification alerts inform you that updates are available. 

  • Click "Details" to open the Mac App Store and see details about the updates available.
  • If present, click "Update" or "Install" to install software updates.
  • If present, click "Restart" to install software updates that have already been downloaded, but require the computer to restart.
  • OS X Mavericks lets you select a convenient time to install updates. Click "Later" to postpone updating for now. Click and hold the Later button to see additional options.

do it later

Tip: When you tell Mavericks to "Try Tonight", OS X installs available updates between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Your computer automatically restarts as part of the update process if needed. The next morning when you log in, your apps and windows re-open just the way you left them. This way your computer is up to date, and ready to pick up where you left off.

You may see a badge appear with the number of software updates available on the App Store icon in the Dock. 


 

Updating your software

In addition to clicking "Update" in a notification alert, you can follow these steps to get the latest software updates for OS X and Mac App Store apps.

If you disable Spotlight on the startup volume, some updates may not appear.

  1. Choose Apple () menu > Software Update – If prompted, enter an admin name and password.

  1. The App Store opens and displays any software updates available for OS X and Mac App Store apps. OS X updates will be at the top of the list. Note: Opening the App Store by clicking its Dock icon will only show Mac App Store app updates.

  1. Click "Update All" to install all available software updates. If prompted, enter an admin name and password then Apple ID and password.
  2. Click "Update" to install individual software updates. If prompted, enter an admin name and password then Apple ID and password.

Monitoring the progress of installing software updates

After a software update had been started, the following progress indicators will appear:

  • The blue progress bar and download stats within the App Store app

  • The blue progress bar under the Launchpad icon on the Dock. Tip: To see the Launchpad bezel containing download stats, hover your cursor pointer over the Launchpad Dock icon.

Software Update preferences

You can customize how OS X downloads and installs updates, including updating automatically.

  • In OS X Lion and earlier, choose Apple () menu > System Preferences… > Software Update.
  • In OS X Mountain Lion and later, choose Apple () menu > System Preferences… > App Store.
    software update preferences

Options include:

  • Automatically check for updates – Select this checkbox to have your Mac check for updates automatically.
  • Download newly available updates in the background – Select this checkbook to have your Mac download updates automatically in the background so they are ready to be installed.
  • Install system data files and security updates – Select this checkbox to have your Mac install system files and security updates automatically.
  • Automatically download apps purchased on other Macs – Select this checkbox to have your Mac download apps (from the Mac App Store) that you purchased on other Macs.
    • You will see the Apple ID you have used sign into the Mac App Store after you have signed in.
    • You must be logged in with an admin account to enable automatic downloads.
  • Show Updates or Check Now – Click Show Updates to open the Mac App Store and see any available updates. Click Check Now to check for updates.

    For best results, you should install OS X updates as soon as possible.

Secure connection to Apple's update servers

Mountain Lion and Maverics use HTTPS to make a secure connection to Apple's Software Update servers. Some web proxy configurations may prevent a secure connection–see this article for more information or consult with your local network administrator.

Updating your software in OS X Lion, Mac OS X v10.6, or earlier

Getting updates immediately

  1. From the Apple () menu, choose Software Update.

    Apple menu
    Apple menu in Mac OS X v10.6.6

  2. Software Update checks for available updates. In the Software Update window, select the items you want to install, then click Install. Usually, you should install all available updates.
  3. Enter an administrator account name and password.
  4. After installation is complete, restart the computer if required.

You can repeat these steps to see if more updates are now available. Because some software updates are prerequisites for others, you may need to repeat these steps several times to complete the software update sequence.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. 

Updating apps that were purchased from the Mac App Store

Software Update does not show updates available for apps that were purchased from the Mac App Store. To update your purchased apps, open App Store on your Mac, then click the "Updates" view at the top of the App Store window. This will show all available updates for apps currently installed on your Mac.

OS X Lion updates come from Software Update as, described above.

Using standalone installers from Apple Support

Sometimes a standalone installer may be more useful than the automatic Software Update feature. Examples include when you:

  • Anticipate needing the file again later.
  • Need to install on multiple computers and need a portable file.
  • Have a faster Internet connection available to you at another computer.
  • Have no Internet connection on a computer that needs the update.

You can get standalone copies of many Apple software updates from Apple Support Downloads.

Carefully read the stated system requirements before using a standalone installer. Be sure to install updates in the correct order when applicable, or only on compatible computers when applicable.

Reference releases; update vs. upgrade

Mac OS X v10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6 and OS X Lion and Mountain Lion are not free updates, they are reference releases, also called upgrades. Reference releases can be obtained from the Mac App Store. See also Update, upgrade--what's the difference?

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Apr 9, 2014
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