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How to update a Mac

Here's how to update your Mac to use the latest version of macOS, whether you update automatically or manually.

Published onSeptember 7, 2020

It’s important to update your Mac, whether it’s to use new features in macOS or install important bug fixes and security patches. However, it’s not always clear as to how to do that — the system might even update for you, depending on your default settings. We’ll show you how to update a Mac yourself, whether it’s automatically or manually.

How to update a Mac using macOS Mojave or newer

how to update mac
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

If you’re using at least macOS Mojave, all updates to the system and key Apple software (such as Calendar, Mail, Photos, and Safari) are available through System Preferences. You can also choose how to update your Mac, including automatic downloads and installations.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Software Update.
  3. Software Update will check for new software releases whenever you visit. If any are available, you’ll see them listed. Otherwise, you’ll be told that your Mac is up to date.
  4. Click Update Now to install all available updates, or More Info to choose specific updates to install.
  5. Tick the checkbox “Automatically Keep My Mac up to date” to auto-install every update in the future.
  6. If you want to customize automatic update delivery, click Advanced and tick the checkboxes you want to automatically check, download, and install updates.

How to update a Mac using older macOS versions

how to right click on mac
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

If you’re using a version of macOS released in the last few years before Mojave, such as El Capitan or High Sierra, all your system updates go through the App Store. You can also set up automatic updates, although you’ll have to visit System Preferences. We’ll show you how to update your Mac using both methods.

  1. Open the App Store.
  2. Click the Updates tab. MacOS will check for any new updates and list them if they’re available. If you see none, your system is up to date.
  3. Click Update All to install every new upgrade, or click the Update buttons for each app if you only want to install specific updates.
  4. If you want to automatically install updates, open System Preferences, click App Store and choose Download Newly Available Updates in the Background.

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