How to Update Mac from Terminal: An Easy-to-follow Guide

how to update mac from terminal
how to update mac from terminal

Are you a Mac user seeking to maintain the latest features, optimal functionality, and robust security on your computer? Regular updates are key. Typically, Mac updates are executed via the Software Update tool located in System Settings or System Preferences. However, you may encounter occasions where this common process encounters issues such as becoming stuck or failing to locate updates. When such problems arise, fear not – there is an alternative approach. Updating your Mac via the Terminal can be an efficient and reliable solution, and this comprehensive guide will show you exactly how to do it. Let’s delve in!

Why Updates are Essential for Your Mac

Understanding the importance of updates is essential. When you update your Mac, you are ensuring that you have the latest features, essential bug fixes, and crucial security patches. These updates enhance the performance of your machine and ensure that you have the best user experience possible. Keeping your Mac updated also helps to prevent potential security threats that can put your personal information at risk.

Before we dive into the process, we need to understand that Mac updates not only include software updates, but they also bring firmware updates and updates for pre-installed apps on your Mac. These updates are designed specifically based on your current macOS. For instance, if you are operating on macOS 13.1 Ventura, and the latest available version is macOS 13.2 Ventura, Terminal will fetch the smaller delta update to ensure a smooth update process.

Worth noting, updating your macOS won’t wipe your data, but it’s a smart move to back up your Mac data using Time Machine or any other preferred methods. This way, you create a safety net for your files just in case something unexpected happens during the update.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Updating Your Mac from Terminal

Updating your Mac from Terminal involves a series of steps that need to be carefully executed. Let’s break them down:

Preparation Stage

  1. The first thing you need to do is to log into your Mac using an administrator account. This is because you need administrative permissions to execute updates on your Mac.

Locating Available Updates

  1. Once logged in, open Terminal. You can find Terminal in the Applications > Utilities folder on your Mac.
  2. In the Terminal, copy and paste the following command and press Enter: softwareupdate -l. Your Mac will start to search for available updates for your system.
  3. There might be instances where Terminal states “no software available,” but you are certain that updates are available for your system. In such cases, you should close Terminal and retry running the command.

Installation of a Specific Update

  1. Write down the update label for the update that you wish to download and install.
  2. You will then run the following command in Terminal, replacing label_name with the update label you noted down: sudo softwareupdate -i label_name -R. If the label includes spaces, make sure to enclose it in single quotes. For instance, if the label is ‘macOS Ventura 13.2.1-22D68’, you should input the command as: sudo softwareupdate -i 'macOS Ventura 13.2.1-22D68' -R.
  3. After running the command, you will be prompted to enter your administrator password. Press Enter after typing it in. Although you will not see the password as you type, it is indeed being entered.
  4. Your Mac will then download the installer and restart automatically. If prompted to terminate Terminal, choose “Terminate”.

It’s essential to use the -R command at the end of your command. This will ensure that your Mac will automatically restart after the download, which is necessary for the update to be properly installed.

Installation of All Available Updates

If you wish to install all the available updates for macOS, apps, drivers, or firmware at once, you can execute the following command: sudo softwareupdate -i -a -R. This command will fetch all updates and install them on your Mac.

Downloading Updates without Immediate Installation

In cases where you wish to download updates but do not want to install them immediately, you can use the following command: sudo softwareupdate -d label_name.

Canceling a Download

Should you need to cancel a download for any reason, you can do so by using the following command: sudo softwareupdate -e.

Accessing and Downloading Full macOS Installers

If you want to see all the full macOS installers available for your Mac, and wish to download or install one, follow these steps:

  1. Run this command to display all the full macOS installers compatible with your Mac: softwareupdate --list-full-installers.
  2. If you want to download the latest “Install macOS” application to your Applications folder, execute this command: softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer. You can launch the installer from the Applications folder when you are ready to install the update.
  3. If you prefer to download and install the update automatically, use this command: softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --launch-installer.
  4. If you want to download a specific full installer without installing it immediately, use this command and replace version_number with the version you desire to download: softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version version_number.
  5. If you want todownload and install the full installer automatically, use this command: softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version version_number --launch-installer.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the update.

For further information on the macOS softwareupdate command line, you can run man softwareupdate in Terminal. This will provide you with a manual page detailing more information about this command.

QnA

Why are updates essential for my Mac?

Updates are essential as they provide the latest features, essential bug fixes, and crucial security patches. They enhance your Mac’s performance and ensure the best user experience possible. Keeping your Mac updated also helps to prevent potential security threats.

What should I do before updating my Mac?

Before updating your Mac, it’s a good idea to back up your data using Time Machine or another preferred method. This creates a safety net for your files in case something unexpected happens during the update.

How do I locate available updates using Terminal?

Open Terminal and paste the following command: ‘softwareupdate -l’. Your Mac will start searching for available updates for your system.

How do I install a specific update using Terminal?

Write down the update label for the update that you wish to download and install. Then run the following command in Terminal, replacing ‘label_name’ with the update label you noted down: ‘sudo softwareupdate -i label_name -R’. If the label includes spaces, make sure to enclose it in single quotes.

How do I install all available updates using Terminal?

To install all the available updates for macOS, apps, drivers, or firmware at once, you can execute the following command: ‘sudo softwareupdate -i -a -R’. This command will fetch all updates and install them on your Mac.

How do I download full macOS installers using Terminal?

Run the command ‘softwareupdate –list-full-installers’ to display all the full macOS installers compatible with your Mac. If you want to download the latest ‘Install macOS’ application to your Applications folder, execute the command: ‘softwareupdate –fetch-full-installer’. You can launch the installer from the Applications folder when you are ready to install the update.