How to update macOS

Year after year, Macs are updated with a new version of macOS, just like other Apple devices with their respective operating systemsThese are the annual updates, which since macOS 11 Big Sur (for the first time since the release of OS X in 2001) have gone from a numbering 10. x in favor of whole numbers, but there are also minor updates, identified from decimal numbers, and which often contain important security fixes and patches.

The annual macOS update cycle often brings iterative changes, but in some cases, we’ve seen big changes and cool features like Universal Control, Shortcuts, and, in the upcoming macOS Ventura, the new Stage Manager and Passkey.

That said, it is important to note that Apple does not update its Macs “indefinitely” like Windows (Windows 11 restrictions aside), but discontinues support after a few years, on average between seven and eight, although with Ventura it has been more “rigid” (not even updating Mac for five years also due to the transition to the new architecture).

So let’s see how to update macOS in 2022, automatically or through the system settings.


  • How to prepare your Mac for an update
  • How to update macOS automatically
  • How to update macOS manually
    • from Mojave to Monterey
    • High Sierra and earlier
  • How to update macOS from the app store
  • What to do if your Mac won’t update

How to prepare your Mac for an update

Before updating your Mac, it is good to make some preparations so as not to run into problems. Updates should happen smoothly, but in computer science, something can always happen, like a power outage or something else, so it’s always best to be ready.

Check compatibility

As we said, the new macOS Ventura, which we take as an example here, is a bit more restrictive as it is compatible with the following Macs:

  • iMac 2017 and later
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later
  • MacBook Air 2018 and later
  • MacBook Pro 2017 and later
  • MacBook 2017 and later
  • Mac Pro 2019 and later
  • Mac mini 2018 and later
  • Mac Studio

Make a backup

Before updating macOS, it’s always best to have a backup ready. Indeed, it is always better to have it stung, but in the event of an update even more so.

macOS has its own internal program called Time Machine, which allows you to make copies of the operating system and all your data and applications on an external hard drive.

Time Machine
Time Machine

Here’s how to use Time Machine.

  1. Connect an external storage device, such as a USB or Thunderbolt drive. These must be formatted a certain way, and cannot contain any other data, so make sure there are no valuable documents inside
  2. Go to the Apple menu at the top left of the menu bar (icon in the shape of a bitten apple)
  3. Click on System Preferences
  4. Click on Time Machine
  5. Click Select Backup Disk
  6. Select the disk
  7. Click on Use disk. You can choose whether to make automatic backups (if you select the appropriate item) or manual

How to update macOS automatically

If you don’t want to think about updates, and aren’t in a hurry to install them, you can let your Mac do it all automatically. 

All you have to do is check a few boxes and then forget about everything.

Your Mac will update and install updates without you having to do anything, bearing in mind that MacBook Pro ( MacBook Pro 14 M1 Pro review ) and MacBook Air must be connected to the power supply for this to happen. 

  1. Select the Apple menu at the top left of the menu bar (icon in the shape of a bitten apple)
  2. Click on System Preferences
  3. Click on Software Update
  4. Select Keep Your Mac Updated Automatically
Keep Your Mac Updated Automatically
Keep Your Mac Updated Automatically

You can also choose some advanced update options in a capillary way.

  1. From the window above, click on Advanced
  2. A new pop-up window will open, allowing you to make the following selections (all enabled by default when automatic updates are checked)
    • Check for Updates makes your Mac automatically check for updates
    • Download New Updates When Available allows your Mac to download updates without asking for confirmation
    • Install macOS updates, to have macOS updates automatically installed
    • Install app updates from the App Store allows you to automatically install app updates from the App Store
    • Install system data files and security updates is to automatically install system files and security updates, select “Install system data files and security updates”.
  3. If you only care about keeping your Mac up to date, select Check for updates, Download new updates when available, and Install system data files and security updates
Install system data files and security updates
Install system data files and security updates

How to update macOS manually

When an update comes out, your Mac will notify you by showing a notification on the Settings icon in the Dock.

At that point, you can click on it and you will be directed to System Preferences, where you will see the same notification on the Software Update icon.

By clicking on it, you will be directed to a window that will show you the update to install and its size. By clicking on Update now, the update will start to be downloaded and then installed. At that point, your Mac will ask you to restart, a process that will take a few minutes.

How to update macOS from Mojave to Monterey

If you don’t see the icon, you can manually search for updates (Mojave to Monterey).

  1. Select the Apple menu at the top left of the menu bar (icon in the shape of a bitten apple)
    • Now you can click on System Preferences and then on Software Update, as above
    • Or click on About This Mac and then on Software Update
  2. At this point, the Software Update window opens, which will check for updates
  3. If there are any, you will see an update for your Mac is available, with indications of the new version of the operating system below.
  4. The update will be downloaded and installed and when ready you will be prompted to restart your computer

How to update macOS with High Sierra or earlier

Macs with macOS High Sierra and earlier are a little different.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen (the one in the shape of a bitten apple)
  2. Select App Store …
  3. Click Updates in the left sidebar of the App Store.
  4. From here you will see the available system update. Any Mac released from 2012 onwards should be able to upgrade to at least macOS Catalina

How to update macOS from the App Store

Another method to download updates for Macs with macOS Mojave and later (although not recommended) is from the App Store.

After clicking on the link, the corresponding App Store page will open

  1. Click the Get button to begin downloading the macOS version installer
  2. When the download is complete in the Applications folder, the installer will open automatically
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the operating system

If the link doesn’t work, try using Safari.

What to do if your Mac won’t update

What to do if the Mac won’t update? There are several issues that can stop our Mac from updating.

The first reason may be because the version of macOS you want isn’t compatible with the Mac or the currently installed macOS operating system. In this case, you will receive a warning that will prevent you from installing it or you will not be able to download it from the App Store (the Get button will not be clickable)

Another trivial reason is that there is not enough space on your Mac. You can see how much storage space is available on your Mac by clicking on the Apple menu at the top left of the screen, selecting About This Mac, clicking on Storage, and then on Manage. This way you can understand how to free up space, delete music or movies, files from the Downloads folder, and unwanted emails from Mail or iPhone or iPad backup.

If, on the other hand, you receive an error message while downloading, preparing, installing, or being notified that the installer is damaged, you have several options:

  • Check the Internet connection
  • Restart your computer to see if this resolves the problem
  • In case you still can’t, you can run the installation in safe mode.
  • For Mac with Apple Silicon :
    1. Turn off the Mac.
    2. Turn on your Mac and continue holding the power key until the boot options window appears.
    3. Select your startup disk, then hold down the Shift key while clicking Continue in Safe Mode
    4. Log in to your Mac. You may be asked to log in again.
  • For Intel-based Macs:
    1. Turn on or restart your Mac, then immediately press and hold the Shift key during startup.
    2. Release the key when you see the login window, then log in to the Mac.
    3. You may be asked to log in again. In the first or second login window, you should see Secure Boot in the upper right corner of the window.
  • If that doesn’t work, you can perform the recovery installation
  • For Mac with Apple Silicon :
    1. Turn off the Mac.
    2. Turn on your Mac and continue holding the power key until the boot options window appears.
    3. Select the gear icon labeled Options
    4. Click on Continue
    5. Select the user and enter the password
    6. Select Reinstall macOS
    7. Click Continue and follow the instructions
  • For Intel-based Macs :
    1. Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Command (⌘) -R keys until the Apple logo or other image appears.
    2. Select the user and enter the password
    3. Select Reinstall macOS
    4. Click Continue and follow the instructions

Read more about How To Download MacOS: Download Guide (Also From Windows)

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Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.

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