How to Update MacOS System Software with Software Update (Big Sur, Catalina & Mojave)
Want to check for software updates in macOS Big Sur, Catalina, or MacOS Mojave? Perhaps you’re wondering where system software updates went in MacOS Mojave or Catalina? You may have noticed that the Software Update mechanism is different in MacOS Mojave and Catalina than in other recent prior Mac OS releases, with system software updates no longer arriving through the Mac App Store ‘Updates’ tab (well, except for the initial download of macOS Mojave). Instead, software updates are now downloaded from System Preferences, which is a bit more like iOS, and older versions of Mac OS X too.
If you aren’t sure how to updates system software in macOS Mojave 10.14 and beyond, read on to discover it’s quite simple.
Make sure the Mac is connected to the internet, as system software updates are downloaded remotely from Apple and therefore require an active internet connection.
How to Update System Software in macOS Big Sur, Catalina & MacOS Mojave
Ready to check for available system software updates in MacOS 10.14, 10.15, 11.0, or later? Here’s where to look for available updates, as well as download and instal them:
- Pull down the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
- Choose “Software Update” from the preference panel options
- Find any available system software updates within the Software Update control panel
If there are no software updates available, the control panel will state that, rather than showing available system software updates.
As always, it’s strongly recommended to back up a Mac before installing any system software update.
The “Software Update” preference panel will now always be where system software updates to MacOS are shown, assuming any are available anyway.
This is the same control panel that you can use to control things like automatic updates to Mac OS as well, so if you want to toggle any of those settings in MacOS 10.14 onward you can do so in the same location.
While this change may be unusual to some Mac users, other longtime Mac users will recall that Mac OS X used to deliver system software updates through a “Software Update” control panel too, but that went out of favor for a while as updates then arrived through the Mac App Store “Updates” tab. The App Store continues to be where you download updates to Mac App Store apps however, so as part of a general update and maintenance routine you’ll want to be sure to check for system software updates as well as the Updates tab of the Mac App Store still.
And in case you were wondering, the softwareupdate command line tool for installing Mac OS X updates through Terminal remains the same.