About firmware updates for Intel-based Macs

Learn how to locate, download, and apply a firmware update to an Intel-based Macintosh computer.

Firmware updates can be found at Apple Downloads or by choosing Software Update from the Apple () menu.

Note: If you are updating an Xserve, see About EFI firmware updates for Xserve for more information.

Find out which version of firmware you have.

If you are updating a portable Mac, make sure that your AC adapter is plugged in. The Firmware Updater application will not run unless the computer is connected to AC power.

  1. Locate the appropriate update for your Macintosh model, and download it to your computer by clicking the update's title, then clicking on the file size indicator in download details or at the bottom of the page. The download will place the disk image on your desktop which contains an installer. If you downloaded via Safari, Safari will notify you that an application is in the image. Click OK to continue.
  2. If "Open safe files after downloading" is checked in Safari preferences, the disk image file will mount by itself. If that preference is not enabled in Safari, double-click on the disk image to mount it.
  3. On the mounted disk image, you will find a file named either MacBookFirmwareUpdate.pkg, MacBookProFirmwareUpdate.pkg, MacMiniFirmwareUpdate.pkg, MacProFirmwareUpdate.pkg, or iMacFirmwareUpdate.pkg.
  4. Double-click the appropriate package for your computer to start the firmware update process. (The installer puts the Firmware Updater in the /Applications/Utilities folder, and launches it automatically.)
  5. Read the onscreen instructions and click Shut Down to proceed with the update. The firmware image will be loaded on your machine, and your machine will shut down, but the update will not be installed until the next step.
  6. Hold down the power button until the power indicator light flashes, then release it. A long tone will be heard, then a gray screen with an Apple logo appears. There is a progress bar under the logo. As the progress bar moves, your firmware is being updated.

    Important: Do not unplug, shutdown, or restart your computer while the update is taking place. Interrupting a firmware update can render your computer unusable. If this happens, take your machine to an Apple store or authorized service provider or perform the recovery yourself using another Macintosh computer to download the Firmware Restoration CD disk image from This software allows you to create a CD which you can use to restore your machine to working order.

    Installation takes a few minutes.
  7. After your firmware has been updated, your machine will restart.
  8. After you log in, a dialog box will appear indicating the firmware update has been successful. Click OK to dismiss this dialog.

If there is an installation issue

If the updater was not successful, try installing again by opening the Firmware Updater application, which is located in the Utilities folder (/Applications/Utilities). Then go to Step 4 above.

In the unlikely case that your computer displays a black screen after starting up, you can restore your computer's firmware back to factory condition. Follow the directions to restore your firmware.

Important: An Intel-based Mac's hard disk must be formatted with the GUID partition scheme to apply a firmware update. Intel-based Macs are shipped this way from the factory. If you have reformatted your hard drive, you should check which scheme your hard disk is currently using before applying a firmware update.

Note: If you are applying a firmware update using a version of Mac OS X earlier than version 10.5, you cannot apply firmware updates on a computer that starts up from a software RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) volume. If you are starting up from a software RAID volume, you must start up from a storage device other than a software RAID volume to apply this update.

Some USB and FireWire devices may prevent firmware updates from installing correctly. If you are having trouble installing an update try disconnecting non-essential devices and use only an Apple keyboard, mouse, and display.

Last Modified: Jun 11, 2013
  • Last Modified: Jun 11, 2013
  • Article: HT1557
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