How to update Mac

Updated: March 10, 2023
6 min read
How to update Mac
by Vitalii Yovko
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

Once a year Apple releases a new macOS with major changes. Each version also has thousands of small tweaks that make a new version even more secure It’s crucial to have the latest possible macOS. Stick to this guide on how to update the Mac, and you’ll do everything without a hitch!

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How to update your Mac

It’s easy to upgrade the Mac operating system. It has a user-friendly interface, so you can find a proper way to update the device within minutes. If you have iOS devices, you may see some similarities with the iPhone or iPad updating process. Apple tries its best to create a seamless user experience.

All macOS devices run this process under the same guidelines. Open the Apple menu to update the Macbook software. Find System Preferences and go to the Software Update tab.  This instruction works on every macOS device. macOS Ventura has a guide that is almost identical to the iOS update process: open the Apple menu, go to System Settings, and find a General and Software Update.

How to update a macOS Mojave or later

How to update Mac

As we say, it’s pretty easy to update the computers and laptops from Apple. Follow the next instructions to update your Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple logo on the top left part of the screen.
  2. Follow this path: System PreferencesSoftware UpdateUpgrade (Update) Now.

To set auto-update, click on the Automatically keep my Mac up to date tick box. Once Apple releases a fresh macOS version or security patch, you’ll get a MacBook software update within a few days.

If you have a macOS Ventura, you have a bonus way to update your computer. It looks almost identical to the iOS process. Apple did this to create a seamless experience for M-chip laptop owners. Follow these steps: Apple System SettingsGeneral Software Update. Here you can check your current system version and launch the update.

How to update a macOS High Sierra or earlier

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Apple stopped providing support to High Sierra back in 2020. So you can't update the system if you have the 2020-006 update. It’s the last macOS 10 version. But you can update some apps, stick to this guide to keep them fresh and bug-free:

  1. Click on the Apple logo.
  2. Select the App Store.
  3. Examine the left part of the windows and select Updates. It’s last on the list.
  4. If you have available app updates, you’ll see the app icon and the Update Now virtual button. Click on it.

But if you hard reset the system or reinstall the macOS, you may have an even older system on your MacBook or iMac. In this case, you can download the High Sierra update. The instruction on how to update the MacBook Air, Pro, or iMac with High Sierra looks the same as in Mojave:

  1. Click on the Apple logo.
  2. Follow the next path: System Preferences Software UpdateUpdate Now.

How to install macOS updates on an unsupported Mac

Once in a few years, Apple releases a new macOS that is supported by devices made up to 5 years before it. In late 2022 they presented a macOS Ventura that works with most MacBooks and iMacs made in 2017 and later.

But the 2015 Mac is not updating to this version even when they have enough RAM. They don’t have a compatible chip. Some third-party services persuade you that you should use them to install an unsupported macOS.

We strongly discourage you from this decision. In the best case, a third-party patcher causes many software glitches. But in a worst-case scenario, you will lose all data. Apple gives users prolonged system protection with security updates. Usually, brands stop releasing security patches for a device once it passes the 2-3 year mark. On the other hand, Apple provides long 5-7 years of security support for their macOS users.

What to do if your Mac won’t update

How to update Mac

If you can't update macOS, check for minor glitches. They are preventing you from getting a new system version. Once you fix them, you can update the MacBook any way you want.

Check it for the three most common issues: you may not have enough ROM (disk storage), you have some custom settings that interfere with the working experience, or you have an old device. You can quickly solve disk and settings issues. But if you have an old MacBook (released before 2017), you get only security patches. You may also have hard drive problems: check it with Disk Utility.

Check your RAM

How to update Mac

It’s the first thing that you need to check. If there is no available RAM for the update, you can’t update the system. To find out more info about your RAM, click on the Apple icon and select About this Mac. Take a closer look at the Memory line: it shows Random Access Memory capacity.

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macOS Ventura needs 8 GB RAM and an Apple computer/laptop from 2017 and later.  You can’t update the MacBook if you have a powerful MacBook Pro 2013 or a MacBook from 2017 with 4 GB RAM.

Check your storage

How to update Mac

You should also check the available space. Make sure that you have 50 Gb of storage. Apple guides say that you need 45-47 Gb. But it would be better to play it safe, so the system has enough room to install and run without glitches. Otherwise, you have a lot of chances to see the “MacBook is not updating” or a similar memo.

Here is how you can check storage settings on macOS:

  1. Click on the Apple icon.
  2. Choose System Settings → General → Storage → All Volumes.

You can also use the “About this Mac” menu. It gives you all the crucial information about the laptop, including storage:

  1. Click on the Apple.
  2. Select About this Mac.
  3. Look for the Storage tab.

If you don’t have enough space, click the Manage virtual button to delete some apps. Also, you can view personal files via Finder and delete them from your laptop.

Boot the macOS computer in Safe Mode

How to update Mac

If no actions from above have helped you, boot the system in Safe Mode. In this mode, your PC runs in its basic state: only with vital files and drivers. If this option helps you update the computer, look at your settings. Some cause software glitches, so you can’t update the mac.

Here is your guide if you have an Intel-based computer:

  1. Shut down the MacBook as usual.
  2. Wait for 15-20 seconds until it shuts off.
  3. Press the Power to turn on the computer and instantly press and hold the Shift button.
  4. Release the Shift once you see the Apple logo on the screen.

If you owner of an M-chip (Silicone Based) MacBook, you have slightly different instructions:

  1. Shut down your computer with the Apple menu. Choose the Apple → Shut Down.
  2. Press and long-hold the Power until you see the Loading startup screen.
  3. Find your startup disc. Hold the Shift button until you see Continue in Safe Mode.
  4. Release the Shift to boot.
  5. Log into the system with your account credentials.

If your MacBook won't update even in this mode, the issue source hides in basic software or hardware. But still, you have a few ways to update your macOS computer.

Download the patch from Apple’s site

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It’s another common way of updating Macs. It is often used to load new security patches to old macOS versions. As for middle-2023, you can find there fresh Catalina patches. And is although Apple has released this system in 2019. This trend will continue with new Apple MacBook updates. You can load Big Sur's latest patches in 2025, Monterey in 2027, etc.

Here is your guide on how to update the Mac this way:

  1. Go to the Apple site and scroll down until you see the Resources tab. Click on Downloads.
  2. Find the needed patch. Select Download Safe File → OK.
  3. Run the installation file. Choose Continue and follow the wizard guidelines.
  4. Restart the computer.

Repair the drive with the Disk Utility tool

Sometimes even those steps don’t help to solve the issue. So you might be wondering questions like “Why can't I update my Mac?” and fill the forums with posts like “I can’t update my mac. What should I do?”. In most cases, you face a software bug. Repair your drive with the built-in Disk Utility tool.

  1. Run Applications. Press the CMD +A combo or open the Finder app and slide to the left sidebar. Find the Applications.
  2. Go to Utilities and Disc Utility tool.
  3. Choose Macintosh → First Aid → Run.
  4. Agree to the test and click on Done once it finishes.
  5. Restart the PC and try to update the macOS once again.


How to update my Mac?

Click on the Apple icon. Select System Preferences → Software Update → Update Now.

How does the Mac get updated automatically?

Once you set auto-updates, the system monitors Apple servers for possible updates. Once the computer finds a new system version, it loads and installs it.

Why can't I update my Mac?

If you have a computer that is supported by the latest update, check available storage and boot the system in Safe Mode.

Final thoughts

You can update your MacBook to a recent macOS version if your device was released within the last 4-5 years. If you have an old computer, don’t risk upgrading it with third-party tools. It can lead to unpredictable consequences. Apple supports their computers with security patches for up to 8 years, so you have nothing to worry about.

If you have a suitable computer, check the storage space. You should have at least 50 free GB on your system hard drive. You can update Intel-based macOS from the System Preferences menu. If you have an M-chip, go to the General tab and find a Software Update.

Run the computer in Safe Mode, if you can’t launch a new system version. Use the Disk Utility tool to fix your drive. If nothing from this list has helped you, there is a severe hardware problem with your computer. Contact Howly technicians to get experts help.

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Jazzzzmine T
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Thanks! I finally get some new updates
Marina and Almond
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You are my saviors!
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Guys, thanks for the easy boomer-friendly guidelines
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Oh god, thank you so much!!! I was so scared when I can’t find any updates for my MacBook Pro 19
Helena Leone
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Thank you!!
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It’s funny that macOS is now just an iPadOS for non-touch screens
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I love Apple tech!!
Vernie Bernie
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Yep. It’s normal. Updating is a process that needs many system resources. And considering that MacBook Air doesn’t have a fan, it’s OK to heat up a little bit.
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Is it ok if my MacBook air heats when updating?
Ali Ali
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Why did I read this instruction? I don’t even have a MacBook lol But I like your guidelines. They are user-friendly even for me, a Windows fan
Trevor High
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It would be great. But it would be better if you always have a backup for crucial information
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Should I back up the system before the update?
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So the MacBook now is just a big iPhone with a keyboard? I like it
Matthew K
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Thank you so much for those tutorials!

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