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Update Apple macOS

This step-by-step guide shows you how to update your Apple Mac device.

Why updates are important

Software updates improve the security of your devices. They help fix security flaws or vulnerabilities that have been found in your device’s software. Cybercriminals and malware can use these vulnerabilities to access your device or personal information. New vulnerabilities are discovered and fixed all the time, so install updates regularly to keep your devices secure.

Much like a thief attempting to break into a home, cybercriminals will always look for the easiest way in. If your software is not updated regularly, it is like leaving your front door unlocked. 

Automatic updates

Turning on automatic updates is the easiest way to keep your device up-to-date and secure. Automatic updates are a “set and forget” feature that installs updates as soon as they are available. The ACSC recommends turning on automatic updates wherever they are supported. Sometimes, updates can’t install automatically so you should still keep an eye out for update notifications.

Turn on automatic updates

Your macOS device can install many updates automatically. This includes updates for apps from the App Store, and updates for your operating system, such as security updates.

1. Select the Apple menu by clicking on the Apple icon on the top left, and select System Preferences.

Apple macbook screen - Step 1

2. Select Software Update.

Apple macbook screen - Step 2

3. Make sure the Automatically keep my Mac up-to-date option is turned on then select Advanced.

Apple macbook screen - Step 3

4. Make sure all the automatic update options are turned on including:

  1. Check for updates
  2. ​​​​​​Download new updates when available
  3. Install macOS updates
  4. Install app updates from the App Store
  5. Install system data files and security updates.

Once all automatic update options are turned on select OK.

Apple macbook screen - Step 4

Install upgrades

In addition to updates, macOS also offers upgrades. Upgrades deliver a major new version of macOS, for example, the change from macOS Big Sur to macOS Monterey was an upgrade. Upgrades can’t be installed automatically but you will receive a notification when an upgrade is available.

1. Select the Apple icon and select System Preferences.

Apple macbook screen - Install Updates - Step 1

2. Select Software Update.

Apple macbook screen - Install Updates - Step 2

3. Select Upgrade Now if an upgrade is available.

Apple macbook screen - Install Updates - Step 3

4. To install an upgrade, review and select Agree to Apples software licence agreement.

Apple macbook screen - Install Updates - Step 4

Older devices and software

If your device, operating system or apps are too old, they may no longer be supported by the developer. When devices and software reach this ‘end of support’ stage, they will still work, but will not receive security updates. This could leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The MacBook Air (Early 2015) is an example of an older device that has reached end of support. 

If your operating system or other software are no longer receiving updates, you should consider upgrading to a newer hardware or switching to an alternative product to stay secure. 

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