How to Control When macOS Updates Are Installed


Updates are necessary, but annoying. Which is why your Mac, by default, installs them automatically.

System updates protect your Mac from malware and other threats, and occasionally add new features. The same goes for software updates, so it’s important to keep all your apps up to date. But popups asking users whether they want to install updates have a way of being ignored, even when the user knows that updates are important. So automatic updates make sense for most people.

…But not all people. Some of you prefer having control over what is installed when. Happily, there’s a way to take control, and it’s in System Preferences.

Click the “App Store” button and you’ll see the automatic update settings right at the top of the window.

The first two options are about checking for and downloading updates—not installing them.

  • The top option, “Automatically check for updates,” controls whether your Mac regularly checks for new versions or not. There’s no good reason to turn this off: it’s important to know about updates when they’re ready.
  • The next option, “Download newly available updates in the background,” controls whether or not you need to tell the system to download updates. The only reason to disable this feature is the need to manage bandwidth usage. If you don’t have that need, it’s best to leave this enabled.

Again, neither of these options installs updates automatically: they just set whether the system should look for updates regularly, and whether the system should download those updates when available. If you check the above two options, and only those options,…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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