Check and Install Mac OS X Software Updates from the Terminal

Jan 13, 2011 - 6 Comments


You can check for available updates, ignore packages, and install any or all Mac OS X Software Updates directly from the command line.

To get a list of available software updates, type the following command:

softwareupdate -l

You will see a list of available updates. You can then install all available software updates with the following command:

sudo softwareupdate -iva

The use of sudo is required to get superuser privileges to actually install the updates. You can also install only the recommended updates with:

sudo softwareupdate -irv

Or you can just install specific software updates by specifying the shorthand package name from the previous list, like so:

sudo softwareupdate -i iPhoneConfigurationUtility-3.2

If there are any updates you want to ignore, you can do so with the –ignore flag, for example:

sudo softwareupdate --ignore iWeb3.0.2-3.0.2

If you want to see all the available command line shortcuts for Software Update, just type:

softwareupdate -h

This is really useful for remotely updating Macs, setting up automated updates via a bash script, or if you just want to geek out.

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Posted by: David Mendez in Command Line, Mac OS X


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  1. Joao Gon says:

    Love terminal ‘shortcuts’…

    “softwareupdate -h” or “softwareupdate” will do the same.

  2. chiggsy says:

    What font is that? I have to try it on some code!

  3. Omppa says:

    For me “sudo softwareupdate -i -a” worked, “sudo softwareupdate -iva” didn’t.

  4. […] the command line softwareupdate tool you can update Mac OS X system software without using the App Store. This is particularly […]

  5. Dave Courtemanche says:

    I realize this is an old thread, hopefully you’re still reading. :) This worked great for the OS updates. Any idea how to add the iWork updates or iLife updates too? Trying to remote manage 15 Macs and Apple doesn’t really do enterprise. I’d like to download .dmg or .pkg files to be able to update everyone at once, but the above command only pulls down OS updates.

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