Skip to main content

Turning on Automatic Updates – For iMac, MacBook, iPhone & iPad

How to turn on automatic updates can differ depending on your operating system and your software applications (“apps”). This guide steps you through turning on automatic updates on an iMac, MacBook, iPhone & iPad.

Setting up automatic updates

  • Turn on or confirm auto-updates, especially for operating systems.
  • Regularly check for and install updates ASAP if auto-updates are unavailable, especially for software.
  • Install updates as soon as possible (if auto-updates unavailable).
  • Set a convenient time for auto-updates to avoid disruptions to business as usual.
  • If you use anti-virus software, ensure automatic updates are turned on.

NOTE: If your hardware or software is too old it may not auto-update and leave your business susceptible to technical, software and security issues. The ACSC recommends upgrading your device or software.

Where do I turn it on?

How to turn on automatic updates can differ depending on your operating system and your software applications (“apps”).

This guide steps you through turning on automatic updates on an iMac & MacBook, and iPhone & iPad.

To turn on automatic updates for Windows, please refer to Turning on Automatic Updates - For Microsoft Windows 10.

Step 1 for iMac and MacBook

Check what operating system you are currently using

An operating system is the most important piece of software on your computer. It manages your computer’s hardware and all its programs. The steps to enable automatic updates depends on your operating system and edition.

To learn what operating system you're using:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the Finder bar at the top left corner of your screen.
     
    Screen shot highlighting the desktop apple icon

  2. Select About This Mac.
     
    Screen shot highlighting about this mac drop down menu

  3. In the resulting window, you will see the name of the iOS you have installed under the Overview tab. Directly below that is the Version Number. The screenshot below indicates the operating system is macOS High Sierra.
     
    Screen shot highlighting operating system and version

Step 2 for iMac and MacBook

Turn on automatic updates for your operating system

Automatic updates for all operating systems, including for Mac, are important in keeping your device secure.

Mac High Sierra and Mojave:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the Finder bar > Select System Preferences.
     
    Screen shot highlighting system preferences drop down menu

  2. Click Software Update icon.
     
    Screen shot highlighting software updates icon

  3. Click to tick the Automatically keep my Mac up-to-date.
     
    Screen shot highlighting automatically keep my mac up to date dialogue screen

Step 3 for iMac and MacBook

Turn on automatic updates for your apps

In addition to turning on automatic updates for your OS, it is recommended you also turn on automatic updates for your software applications (“apps”).

NOTE: Automatic app updates for Mojave operating systems can be enabled when you turn on automatic updates for your operating system (see Advanced Settings Step 2 and 3 for further detail).

  1. Click the Apple icon in the Finder bar at the top left corner of your screen, and select System Preferences.
     
    Screen shot highlighting system preferences drop down menu

  2. Open the App Store.
     
    Screen shot highlighting app store icon

  3. To turn on Automatic Updates, select Automatically check for updates. Ensure all other check boxes are activated to guarantee installation.
     
    Screen shot highlighting automatic updates dialogue screen

  4. If you cannot activate the check boxes, click on the padlock and enter your details to unlock.
     
    Screen shot highlighting click lock to make changes icon

Step 1 for iPhone and iPad

Check what operating system you are currently using

An operating system is the most important piece of software on your portable device. It manages your device's hardware and all its apps.

To learn what operating system you're using:

  1. Tap Settings > tap on General.
     
    Screen shot highlighting general setting icon on mobile device

  2. Tap Software Update. 
     
    Screen shot highlighting software update application on mobile device

  3. In the resulting screen, you will see the version of the iOS you have installed. The screenshot below indicates the operating system is iOS 12.4.1
     
    Screen shot highlighting mobile device operating system and version number

Step 2 for iPhone and iPad

Turn on automatic updates for your operating system

  1. Tap Settings > tap on General > tap on Software Update.
     
    Screen shot highlighting software update application on mobile device

  2. Tap on Automatic Updates.
     
    Screen shot highlighting automatic updates on link

     


  3. Tap to turn on Automatic Updates.
     
    Screen shot highlighting automatic updates toggle at the on position on mobile device

Step 3 for iPhone and iPad

Turn on automatic updates for apps

In addition to turning on automatic updates for your iOS, it is recommended you also turn on automatic updates for your app.

  1. Tap Settings > [your name] > iTunes & App Store.
     
    Screenshot of an iPhone home screen, with the Settings app icon highlighted

  2. Turn on the content that you want to automatically download.
     
    Screen shot highlighting update toggle in the on position on mobile device

  3. To get Automatic Updates for apps, turn on Updates. Any new versions of apps that you currently have on your device will automatically download when they're available.
     
    Screen shot highlighting updates application on mobile device