Can't update your Mac? The reasons and the solution — 2022

New updates to macOS, the operating system for Apple computers, arrive with some frequency. If your Mac doesn't update, for whatever reason, it's clear that something isn't right, so in this article we'll help you find the source of the problem and be able to enjoy the latest version available.

What you should be clear about to avoid failures

There are a series of basic rules and checks that you should know first to avoid having any problem when you update your Mac. For this reason, in the following sections we will explain what you should check, being able to solve the matter quickly if you were doing something wrong.

Why you shouldn't ignore this problem

If you have this problem that your Mac does not update, we recommend that you stay on topic, since it is very important to have the latest software update. These can include aesthetic and functional innovations that you may find very interesting, although apart from this, each version of macOS incorporates performance improvements, bug fixes and security measures against malware and other vulnerabilities.



It is true that sometimes corrections are more important than others, but it is always just as vital when it comes to keep your Mac safe. Despite the misconception that macOS is more secure than Windows, this is not really the case and both can be vulnerable. Therefore, ignoring the update because it was not possible to do it first is a bad option.

Follow the proper path to update

It may seem like a no-brainer, but maybe you're trying to update your Mac's operating system where it doesn't belong. These appear in System Preferences > Software Update. At this point a message appears saying that there is a new update that must be downloaded and then installed, which may take a few minutes in which you will have to be patient.

update mac

If you have a version of the system prior to macOS High Sierra, you must go to the Mac App Store and then access the 'Updates' tab. Otherwise it is the same as the other option, since the most recent version available will also appear here. You can also do your search through the corresponding text box in the App Store.

Is your Mac compatible with the latest updates?

If you don't see an option to update your Mac, it could be because of two things. The first, that there is no more recent update and therefore you are already on the latest version. The other possibility is that your Mac has stopped receiving software support. If you have a more or less recent Mac, this is not the cause, but if you have a Mac from 2012 or even earlier, it is almost certainly obsolete and will not receive any more updates, except for some possible complementary one that fixes a specific bug.

To this day, these are the Macs that continue to receive updates from macOS , specifically version 11 called Big Sur:

    iMac: 2014 and newer models. iMac Pro: all the models. Mac mini: 2014 and newer models. Mac Pro: 2013 and newer models. MacBook: 2015 and newer models. MacBook Air: 2013 and newer models. MacBook Pro: Late 2013 and later models.

macOS 11 Big Sur

Main causes of a bad update

Here are the main reasons why your Mac might be having trouble updating software. They are the most common and, although they may not be the only ones, in most cases they are the ones that cause failures.

The update does not appear when you are looking for it

Another problem that can become exasperating is that you yourself know that a new update has come out, either through the media or social networks, and it does not appear. This can be especially uncomfortable when the update fixes a bug that you have in mind, and also when there are some features that are of great interest to you.

mac update

In this case, if you have checked the compatibility that we have previously discussed with your Mac, you will have to wait. In this case, when it is a major update, users as a whole will want to download it just like you. You have to remember that the bandwidth that the servers have is reduced and they are going to be able to collapse extremely quickly. That is why on many occasions you will have to wait several minutes or even an hour so that the server can launch the update on all the computers that are compatible.

If an error message appears during the download

Failed to update Mac

An error message similar to the one shown in the image can have various causes. Usually this appears when the update is very recent , since thousands of users all over the world will be trying to download the update and this can cause a certain crash on the servers. It is advisable at this point to be patient or try restarting both the Mac and the Internet connection. If you are not able, it is better to wait for a few hours to pass before trying again.

If the error message clearly states what the problem is, try following up on it. If it is telling you that you are not connected to internet Obviously that's about it. Check that you have a WiFi or cable connection and that the speed is correct, since in the end a slow connection can also cause problems. If you detect any failure in it, you will have to report it to your telephone company so that it can check if there is any fault.

If the download is very slow

Internet Mac

Downloading a new version of macOS can be frustrating when it takes a very slow process. Normally this responds to what we have previously commented: slow connection or server crash . It is always recommended to make everything go as quickly as possible is that you have the Mac connected to the router by cable. And if this is not possible, it is advisable that the equipment is at least close to the router or a signal repeater.

If slowness appears when it is already being installed , don't worry. It is usually normal for it to take several minutes and more when the update is very heavy. There are cases in which it even takes hours, although it usually does not take more than 60 minutes. If at any given moment you see that the screen turns off completely and several minutes go by, try turning on the Mac by pressing the button, since it may already be updated and due to some small error it has not turned on automatically.

Lack of free disk space

mac storage

If you were unable to download the macOS update, it may be because you don't have available disk space to accommodate the update. Normally this is notified with a pop-up window. There are several ways to free up space, some of them proposed by the Mac itself from the Apple menu, by going to About This Mac and clicking on the Storage tab. In any case, here are some tips that may be useful for this task:

    Usa iCloud, contracting a higher space rate if necessary. You can save a lot of files that take up a lot in the cloud, thus freeing up space on your Mac. Services like Google Drive, Dropbox or any other can also help you. Use external devicesto save these files if the cloud does not convince you. Pen drives, external drives and NAS are a good option. Sort your filesNote: Not all the files you keep on your Mac are likely to be useful to you, so doing a manual review might help you detect and clean them up. Check the downloads, since they are usually files that take up a lot of space in the long run and we consider them forgotten. Not just documents, but songs, series and movies downloaded from streaming services, including podcasts. Empty the binbecause really what you carry here is not automatically deleted and in fact it is possible to recover it at any time. Do not wait for the 30 days necessary for the automatic deletion to take place and proceed to delete these files completely.

Other ways to end the problem

If you haven't been able to update macOS at this point, there are still other options you can try to see if you can fix the issues and get to the latest system version available for your Mac.

Update your Mac in safe mode

Start Mac safe mode

The safe mode of Macs allows you to start the computer in order to discover possible problems and errors during its normal operation, allowing you to avoid them and perform some actions without problem. This is the case of software updates. Therefore, if you have not been able to update in another way, try to do it in this way.

To do this you must restart the Mac and just when it turns on hold down the Shift key . You must keep it pressed until the login options appear and then you can proceed to enter your user account and perform the update following the usual steps and that we already mentioned in another section of this article.

Format it and then try to update

Restore Mac to update

We recognize that this is the most tedious solution of all, not because of the time it requires, but because of the inconvenience of having to completely restore the Mac. You can try to make a backup beforehand for it in case in case this method does not work to update you would like to recover your previous data.

To perform this formatting of the Mac you must follow these steps:

    Turns offtotally the Mac.
  1. Press the button switched on while you press the keys command + R . Do not stop pressing these keys until you see the Apple logo on the screen.
  2. In the window that appears now you must click on disk utility . In this section you can find the different disks and their partitions.
  3. Click on Erase the disk or partition where you want to reinstall macOS.
  4. Close the window, since you can now return to the previous one and now click on Reinstall macOS .
  5. Follow the steps provided to install the latest software.

Update via external file

At first, you can always carry out the official installation through the operating system itself, in the settings as we have previously mentioned. But there is also the possibility to do it through an external device. This way you'll just have to insert the installer in a simple pendrive and run from here without any problem.

Obviously it is a much more advanced technique and in which you have to be careful. On the net you can find many web pages that have IPSW files to be able to carry out the corresponding installation. But many of these may contain malicious files that will try to infect your computer. That is why you always have to be suspicious and get hold of files that are completely trustworthy, that you have previously verified.

What to do if nothing has worked

As a last resort to this problem, there is no one who can help you better to solve it than Apple itself. They have both the staff and the effective tools to pinpoint the source of any problem, including software. They will also be able to lend you a hand at an SAT (Authorized Technical Service), which although they do not belong to Apple, have authorization and identical tools for detecting problems. Of course, both to go to an Apple Store and one of these services you must make an appointment beforehand. There are several ways to do this:

  • Going in person and requesting it.
  • Through the Apple support website.
  • By phone call (900 150 503 is free from Spain)
  • From the Support app available in the iOS and iPadOS App Store.
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