Keeping your software up to date is one of the most important things you can do to maintain the security of your Mac. That includes installing all security updates and other macOS software updates, and making sure that your Mac is set up to get these background updates promptly:
By default, these updates are installed or applied automatically. They don't cause your Mac to restart, but some take effect only after you restart your Mac.
Get background updates promptly
To make sure that you always get background updates promptly:
- In macOS Ventura or later, choose Apple menu > System Settings, click General in the sidebar, then click Software Update on the right. Click the info button next to Automatic Updates, then make sure that “Install Security Responses and system files” is turned on.
- In earlier versions of macOS, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Software Update. Click Advanced, then make sure that “Install system data files and security updates” is selected.
View installed background updates
System Information lists most Apple and third-party software that has been installed manually or automatically.
- Press and hold the Option key while choosing Apple menu > System Information.
- From the Software section of the sidebar, select Installations.
- Click the Install Date column on the right to sort the list by date.
Types of background updates
Background updates include Rapid Security Responses, security-configuration updates, and system data files.
Rapid Security Responses
Rapid Security Responses deliver important security improvements between software updates.
Security-configuration updates help make your Mac more secure by identifying malicious software and preventing its installation. When you restart your Mac, these updates also remove any malicious software that is identified but already installed. These security-configuration updates are installed in the background:
- Core Services Application Configuration Data: Blocks incompatible apps from being launched
- EFICheck AllowListAll: Verifies that Apple provided the firmware for your Mac
- Gatekeeper Configuration Data: Helps protect your Mac from apps created by unidentified developers
- Incompatible Kernel Extension Configuration Data: Blocks incompatible kernel extensions that may adversely affect your Mac
- XProtectPayloadsConfigData: Removes known malware
- TCC Configuration Data: Improves compatibility of specified software with macOS security features
- XProtectPlistConfigData: Prevents known malware from running
System data files
System data files provide new word lists, speech-recognition assets, voice assets, better suggestions for contacts and events, and more. Some system data files are installed only when you turn on or use features that require them. These system data files are installed in the background:
- Updated fonts
- Updated system voice-dictation services
- New or updated vocabulary words for the Dictionary app
- Improved language models, autocorrect, spell check, input methods, transliteration of Roman to international characters, and more
- Enhanced suggestions for adding new contacts and calendar events in macOS apps, and improved time-to-leave alerts
- Improved discovery of Bluetooth devices and communication with them
- Improved automatic routing of network requests based on traffic
- Improved updating of iCloud Keychain credentials and passwords across your Apple devices
- Support for new top-level domains in Safari
- New and improved website suggestions, available as you type in the Smart Search field in Safari
- Updated definitions for SSL certificate types
- System-level support for more digital camera RAW formats
- Improved tuning of Portrait mode images captured on iOS devices and viewed in the Photos app on Mac
- Updated instructional videos in System Settings (or System Preferences)
- Updated information about support for media formats
- Firmware updates for built-in trackpads and external trackpads, mice, keyboards, and displays
- Firmware updates for Apple power adapters
- Firmware updates for Siri Remote development in Xcode
- Updated information to help automatically block incompatible kernel extensions (kexts)
- Updated information to help automatically identify and block incompatible apps from opening or being migrated to a new Mac