How to Update Mac OS X

September 16, 2011, By Christian Cawley

If you’re running into regular errors or just want to make sure that you’re running the most recent versions of your favorite software, your best bet is to check the Mac OS X update tool. Designed to make it very easy for users of all abilities to connect to update their MacBooks, Mac Minis and iMacs, the tool detects your operating system versions, the state of any installed applications and finds all available updates.

Following this it is then a simple matter to select the updates that you want to install and apply them. The Mac OS X update utility will then proceed to download the updates and apply them. How long this takes will depend on your Internet connection speed, but in most cases it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. If you suspect the download might take a while, you can always break it up, selecting single or groups of small updates.

How to Update Mac OS X

Getting Started with Software Update

To see what updates are available for your Mac, head to the Apple menu and select Software Update….

Your Mac will then begin the process of checking for updates with the message Checking for new software, accompanied by a blue progress bar. At any time you will have the chance to Cancel (perhaps it is taking too long, or you realize that you have to leave your computer for a moment) but when complete you should see a message informing you that updates are available.

At this stage, you will have three choices to the following message:

Software updates for your computer are ready to be installed. Do you want to install them now?

If you choose to install, note that your computer will need to be restarted, so make sure you have saved your work. You can select to the Not Now option to discontinue the process until a later date, or select Install and Restart to proceed without checking the available updates.

Checking Your Update Details

For users who like complete control over their Mac, however, the Show Details option will expand the box and display a list of updates such as iTunes or AirPort Client Update. To apply the updates, select Install n Items, where n is the number of selected updates.

If you prefer to skip one or more updates (such as if you have a massive Mac OS X update to install and not enough time to download it) simply clear the corresponding checkbox in the Software Update window before selecting the install button.

Mac OS X will then proceed to download updates. Note that these may be quite large or use up a lot of bandwidth, so you should put a pause on any web browsing or other Internet activities you might have planned to be engaged in while the update process runs.

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