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System Software Update Not Showing on Mac? Here’s the Fix

Fix System Software Updates not showing up on Mac

Here’s the issue: you know there’s a system software update available for MacOS, but it’s not appearing as an available update or download. Maybe the Software Update control panel says no updates are available, or it claims it’s unable to find updates,

If you’re trying to update system software on your Mac but the update is not showing up in the Software Update control panel of macOS, you can typically fix the problem fairly quickly with a series of simple troubleshooting steps.

We’ll walk through several things to check if you find the software updates are not showing up on the Mac, including determining if the Mac is online, if the software update servers are offline, and two different methods to refresh and reload software updates on the Mac.

1: Check for an Active Internet Connection

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have an active internet connection. You can check this easily by opening Safari or a web browser and attempting to go to a web page on the Mac.

If the internet is not working and nothing loads, the internet connection is the likely source of the problem, and you’ll want to get connected online before being able to see, download, and install software updates on the Mac.

2: Are Mac Software Update Servers Down?

It’s also possible that Apple’s software update servers are temporarily down, in which case just waiting a bit typically resolves the issue and the software update will show up again the next time the Software Update preference panel is loaded on the Mac.

This is fairly rare, but it does happen when a major new update is released, and randomly on other occasions, as sometimes the update servers are overwhelmed, or simply down for maintenance or due to some issue on the server end.

You can check the status of macOS software update servers (and other Apple services) at Apple System Status page to determine if this is the problem or not.

3: Refresh the Software Update System Preference on Mac

If no software update is showing as available, or you see an “Unable to check for update” error message, you can refresh the Software Update control panel, which usually resolves the issue where an update is not showing up:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose ‘System Preferences’, then go to “Software Update” as usual
  2. Refresh the Software Update control panel by hitting Command + R on your keyboard
  3. Wait a moment and the software update should now show up
  4. Refresh software update on Mac if the system update is not showing up

If the system update is still not showing as available on the Mac, you can move on to the next step.

4: Reload the Software Update Service on Mac

You can completely refresh the software update service and preference panel on the Mac by using Activity Monitor. This shouldn’t be needed often

  1. Hit Command+Spacebar to open Spotlight on the Mac, then type “Activity Monitor” and hit the Return key to launch the Activity Monitor app
  2. Use the “Search” function in the upper right corner of Activity Monitor and search for ‘softwareupdate’ (all one word, no spaces)
  3. Select “” and then click the (X) button in the title bar to force quit the process
  4. Choose to “Force Quit” the “” process
  5. quit the softwareupdate process to refresh Software Update on Mac

  6. Open “Software Update” in System Preferences again on the Mac, the update should show up now
  7. Refreshed software update on Mac showing software updates

Note if you have Software Update control panel open while doing this, it will show a brief error message. You can simply ignore that and reopen the Software Update preference panel.

Preferences error on Mac

If you’re still having issues with software updates not showing up on the Mac, try restarting the Mac, and waiting a while.

These tricks should resolve most situations where you’d see the “Unable to check for updates” error message on the Mac, which sometimes has subtext citing “an internal error occurred”.