Apple

How to turn on automatic updates in macOS

An out-of-date system is a vulnerable one. Here's how to keep your macOS device updated the easy way: automatically.

Turning on automatic updates is an important move towards keeping your Mac up to date. Here's the process at a glance:
  1. Click on the Apple menu in the upper left of the Finder bar.
  2. Click on System Preferences.
  3. Click on App Store.
  4. Click on Automatically Check For Updates.
  5. Select the options you wish to enable.

Macs used to be known for their imperviousness to malware. With a growth in its user base comes a growth in malware manufacturing, and macOS is now hardly the bulletproof system it once was perceived to be.

Keeping a computer safe, be it a Mac or a Windows PC, requires constant updating of the operating system and the apps installed on it. It can be difficult and cumbersome to keep up, which is why Apple added automatic update options to its desktop OS.

Enabling automatic OS update installs can keep you safe without any additional effort or hassle. Here's how to enable it—and it's super simple.

Accessing your options

Click on the Apple menu in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. You can do this without exiting or minimizing the app you currently have open. The second option in that menu is System Preferences (Figure A).

macos-updates-f1.png

Figure A

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

Click on that to open the System Preferences window (Figure B).

macos-updates-f2.png

Figure B

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

The fourth row of icons in the System Preference window should contain the App Store item, as shown in Figure B. Click on that to open the App Store options screen.

SEE: Guidelines for building security policies (Tech Pro Research)

Configuring automatic updates

The App Store screen (Figure C) contains several options for automatic macOS and app updates.

macos-updates-f3.png

Figure C

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

The first option, to automatically check for updates, is required to enable any of the other ones, so click that box. Beneath it are four options:

  • Download Newly Available Updates In The Background: This will automate the download of macOS and App Store app updates and inform you when they are ready to install. This option is critical for automatic installation. If you leave it unchecked you will be notified when updates are available, but beyond that you'll need to do the entire process yourself.
  • Install App Updates: This will take app updates out of your hands and automate the process.
  • Install OS X Updates: This will take OS updates out of your hands and automate the process.
  • Install System Data Files And Security Updates

Note—if your Mac isn't connected to AC power it will not automatically download or install updates. When updates are available you'll be notified and asked to schedule their installation, install updates immediately, or put off notification until the next day.

Once you click the appropriate checkboxes you can close the window, and that's it: You'll be notified when updates are ready to install.

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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