How to Keep Your Mac and Apps Up To Date

macOS Mojave

Keeping your Mac up to date may seem like a chore, but it's an essential part of your online protection. Apple and the application developers are fixing the security vulnerabilities and adding new features useful for macOS and your applications.

Beyond the usual security patches and application updates, Apple offers new versions of macOS to Mac users every year, at no cost. We will explain how it works. You can automate much of this process so that updates can support you without disturbing you as well.

How to install macOS updates

Apple releases a major new version of macOS every year, usually around October. Between major updates, additional patches are made to fix bugs, fix security vulnerabilities, and sometimes add new features and support new products. These patches are simply called updates and saved in the version number, 10.14.3 being the third update of macOS 10.14.

These updates make changes to the main operating system, proprietary applications such as Safari and Mail, and may include firmware updates for hardware and devices. You do not have to worry about incorrect installation because Apple only provides the relevant updates for your Mac.

If you are using macOS Mojave 10.14 or later macOS version, you can update your Mac by clicking on "System Preferences" in the dock, then choosing "Software Update" in the window that appears. Or, click the Apple menu icon in the menu bar and select "System Preferences."

You can also search for this option by pressing Command + Spacebar, and then typing "update software" in Spotlight window it appears.

System Preferences option in the Apple menu

Assuming you are connected to the Internet, your Mac will search for all available system updates. Click "Update Now" to start the update process. Your Mac may need to restart before the process is complete.

Install macOS Updates

If the "Software Update" option does not appear in the System Preferences window, it is MacOS 10.13 or an earlier version that is installed. You must apply the operating system updates via the Mac App Store.

Launch the App Store from the dock and click on the "Updates" tab. Once the window is updated, all the updates listed under "Update macOS 10.xx.x" should be displayed (depending on your version).

Click "Update" next to the corresponding entry or "Update All" at the top of the screen to update everything. You may need to restart your Mac for the update to take effect.

Update macOS via the App Store

As a general rule, the three most recent versions of macOS are supported with security updates. You can view information about the latest security updates on Apple Security Update Page if you want.

RELATED: Which versions of macOS are supported with security updates?

How to automatically install updates

Your Mac can automatically search, download, and install different types of updates.

For macOS 10.4 Mojave or later, go to System Preferences> Software Update and click the "Advanced" button to check for automatic updates. For macOS 10.3 High Sierra or earlier, you can find these options under System Preferences> App Store.

Enable "Check for Updates" to have your Mac automatically check for updates and place a notification in the upper right corner of the screen if something is found. If you disable this option, you will need to check for updates manually in this menu.

If you enable the "Download new updates as needed" option, all available system updates will be downloaded and you will be informed of their availability. You will need to manually install these updates by clicking the notification or by visiting System Preferences> Software Update.

Switch automatic macOS updates

Choosing "Install macOS Updates" or "Install App Updates from App Store" will automatically install system and application updates. You do not need to manually approve anything, although you are prompted to restart your computer for the updates to take effect.

System data files are often installed only when you use a feature that depends on them. Some examples include voice recognition resources, enhancements to your Mac's text-to-speech capabilities, fonts, and dictionary definitions. Security updates are downloads that fix known vulnerabilities in your system, even if you are using an older version of macOS. These include updates for the XProtect anti-malware feature built in macOS.

We recommend that you keep automatic updates enabled to keep your Mac secure and that all macOS features work as described. If you disable it, you will need to install these updates manually through the software update.

How to upgrade macOS to the next major release

The macOS upgrade differs from the update because you are moving from one major version to the next. These updates are available once a year and introduce more pronounced changes than traditional patches. You can discover the latest version of macOS by visiting Apple's website.

Be aware that it is difficult to downgrade your Mac to the previous version of macOS. Before you take the plunge, make sure that all the software on which you rely is compatible with the latest version of macOS. You may need wipe your Mac and reinstall macOS if you need to go back there. You could too completely restore the current state of your macOS system from a Time Machine backup, assuming you first created one.

Before you install the updates for your main operating system, it is always good to have a backup in case of a problem. You can create a backup with the help of Time Machine and a free hard drive available. You can also use third-party software to create a bootable backup if you want.

The latest version of macOS will still be available through the Mac App Store. Launch the App Store by clicking on its icon in your dock or by clicking on the Apple icon in the menu bar and selecting "App Store."

App Store option in the Apple menu in the macOS menu bar

New versions are often highlighted in the "Discover" (or "Featured") tab on older versions, or you can search for "macOS" to find the latest result.

Upgrade to the new macOS

Click "Get" in the entry of the App Store to start the download. You may need to enter your Apple ID password or use Touch ID if your computer supports it. Downloading major operating system updates may take some time.

Once the download is complete, the update process should start automatically. You can exit the installer and resume it at any time by launching the "Install macOS" option. [name]"Application (where" name "is the name of the latest version). Upgrading your operating system can take from 30 minutes to a few hours and causes several reboots while the update is being applied.

Updating your apps on the Mac App Store

The Mac App Store makes it easy to search, install and maintain software on your Mac. All apps presented in the App Store are approved by Apple and designed in sandbox, which means that they are run in a secure environment that should not damage your Mac.

Launch the App Store by clicking on the icon of your dock, clicking on the Apple icon in the menu bar and selecting "App Store" or pressing Command + Bar. space and looking for it. Click on the "Updates" tab to see the list of available updates. You can choose to update each application individually or click "Update All".

Install App Store Software Updates

If you want your Mac App Store applications to update automatically, launch App Store and then click "App Store" in the upper left corner of the screen. Choose "Preferences" and make sure that "Automatic Updates" is enabled.

Updating apps installed outside the Mac App Store

Not all apps are available on the Mac App Store. If you need to install an application manually, it will need to be updated differently. Many applications include the ability to update, such as the Google Chrome browser (which automatically installs the latest version) and Microsoft Office, which uses a separate application called "Microsoft AutoUpdate" to apply updates.

Run Microsoft AutoUpdate App

Most apps will automatically check for updates and let you know. You can force a check by searching for the matching item in the menu bar. It depends on the application you are using, but you can check:

Under "Name of the application" in the menu bar, then "Check for updates".
Under "Application Name", choose "About [App Name]"Then" Check for updates "
Under "Help" in the menu bar, then "Check for Updates".
In the application itself. For example, in Chrome, click Chrome> About Google Chrome and use the updater here.
Via a dedicated update application, such as "Microsoft AutoUpdate" for Microsoft Office on Mac

If an application does not include the ability to update, you may need to update it manually. First, find the version of the application you are running by launching it, clicking on "Application Name" in the upper left corner of the screen, and then choosing "About [App Name]. "

Find the MacOS Software Version

Now go to the home page of the application and check if a newer version of the application is available. If so, download it. While the download is complete, navigate to the "Applications" folder and search for the application in question. Drag the application's icon into the Trash of your Dock. Be aware that you may lose some data from the application.

Now, install the application as you normally would.

RELATED: How to install applications on a Mac: everything you need to know

How to update Mac tools and drivers

In general, you do not have to worry about drivers if you use a Mac. Apple detects your hardware and provides you with the latest updates for your particular configuration. The exception is third-party drivers and system tools.

You could have a third-party driver installed if you use a product like Paragon NTFS, which allows full write access to NTFS format drives. These tools often install a kernel extension and an icon in System Preferences, usually at the bottom of the screen.

Update the AirServer kernel extension

If such third-party system tools or drivers are installed, look for the tweak under System Preferences. There should be an option for "Check for Updates" or "Update Now". You will probably need to allow any changes using your administrator password, and then restart your Mac for the changes to take effect.

How to update Safari extensions

If you have installed Safari extensions (such as Evernote Web Clipper or Grammarly) from Safari Extension Gallery (macOS 10.13 or earlier) or the Mac App Store (macOS 10.14 or later), the updates will be automatically installed.

Safari extension gallery

If you have installed a Safari extension manually from another source, you will need to update it manually. To do this, launch Safari, click on "Safari" in the upper left corner of the screen, then on "Preferences". If there are any available updates, they will appear in the lower left corner of the window. Click "Update" next to each item, if necessary.

Deprecated Safari extensions can put your Mac at risk. Be sure to disable any obsolete extensions for which no updates exist. It is safe to assume that an extension is deprecated if it is no longer maintained, for example, if it has not received updates for more than a year. You will find this information on the website of the extension. Disable an extension by unchecking the box next to it under Safari> Extensions Preferences.

Update apps with Homebrew

homebrew is a package distribution system for macOS that allows you to install applications via the command line (Terminal). All applications that you install via Homebrew can be updated with a single command. For this to work, you must install the Homebrew version of the application.

Installing software with Homebrew for macOS

First of all, you have to to install Homebrew on your Mac. You can then use Terminal to find the applications to install using the following command:

brewery research office

This will search for all packages that match the search term "office". You will install all the relevant packages found with the help of the following command:

beer keg install libreoffice

You can now run a single command to update applications installed via Homebrew:

upgrade of the beer keg

This will not work for apps with their own updaters, such as Google Chrome.

RELATED: How to install packages with Homebrew for OS X

Update your software and stay safe

Whenever possible, turn on automatic updates and make sure you create regular backups of your Mac for ultimate peace of mind. Take the time to upgrade your computer once a year to the latest version, but make sure all your software is compatible before pulling the trigger.

Installing software updates is the best thing to do to address newly discovered security vulnerabilities. If you are relying on an application that is no longer being actively serviced, consider looking for an alternative that will not put you at risk.

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