About background updates in macOS

Your Mac automatically installs background updates for the security configuration and data files used by macOS.

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 available macOS software updates, including security updates and the background updates described in this article.

Background updates include security-configuration updates and system data files, which are automatically installed by default. They don't cause your Mac to restart, but some take effect only after you restart.

Background updates include:

  • Security-configuration updates, which 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.
  • System data files, which 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.

To make sure that you always get these background updates promptly, keep the “Install system data files and security updates” setting enabled in Software Update preferences. Go to System Preferences > Software Update, then click Advanced.

View background updates on your Mac

System Information lists most Apple and third-party software that has been installed manually or automatically. 

Choose Apple menu () > About This Mac then click the System Report button. From the Software section of the sidebar, select Installations and click the Install Date column to sort by date.

Security-configuration updates

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
  • MRTConfigData: Removes known malware
  • TCC Configuration Data: Improves compatibility of specified software with macOS security features
  • XProtectPlistConfigData: Prevents known malware from running

System data files

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 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


Information about products not manufactured by Apple, or independent websites not controlled or tested by Apple, is provided without recommendation or endorsement. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance, or use of third-party websites or products. Apple makes no representations regarding third-party website accuracy or reliability. Contact the vendor for additional information.

Published Date: