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How to Update Apps on macOS: 7 Quick and Easy Ways

Maximize efficiency with macOS app updates.

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Last updated: December 9, 2023

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TL;DR

To update apps on macOS, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select App Store.
  2. Select the Updates tab.
  3. Click the Update button next to an app you want to update.

If it doesn’t work, use MacKeeper’s Update Tracker to update apps in one click, enable Automatic Updates in System Settings, check updates within the app or on the developer’s website (for non-App Store apps), or update your macOS to update Stock apps like Calendar and Music.

Keeping your Mac apps up to date is key to getting the most out of your device. But updating apps one by one can be a total drag. So, to make the process a little less boring, I’ll show you some quick and easy ways to update apps on macOS and stay on top of the latest features and fixes.

Before We Begin

Keeping your apps up to date can protect your system from potential security threats while enjoying access to the latest features. Download MacKeeper and use its Update Tracker to check for updates and keep your apps up to date.

How to Check for Mac App Updates Using the App Store

Before you update apps on macOS, you must know if any updates are available. Follow these steps to check app updates in the App Store:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select App Store.
click the apple menu and select app store
  1. Click the Updates tab in the App Store window.
click updates in the left sidebar
  1. You will see a list of apps with available updates.
available app updates in app store

Now that you know how to check available updates on the App Store, let’s update apps on macOS.

7 Quick Ways to Update Apps on macOS

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Below, I’ll introduce you to not one or two but 7 quick ways to update apps on macOS. Whether you prefer to use the App Store, third-party software, or other lesser-known alternatives, you’ll find the steps below.

1. Keep Your Mac Apps Up to Date With MacKeeper

MacKeeper is your one-click solution to update your Mac apps. Its Update Tracker feature is a super convenient and secure way to manage and update your Mac applications.

Here’s how to use Update Tracker to update apps on macOS:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and click the Update Tracker tab in the left sidebar.
click update tracker under performance
  1. Click Scan for Updates.
click scan for updates
  1. MacKeeper will scan your Mac for outdated apps and display a list. To select an app, check the little box next to it or click Check All to select all apps.
select individual apps or click check all
  1. Click Update All.
click update all in update tracker
  1. Wait for the updates to complete. This can take a while, depending on the number and size of updates.
  1. You’ll get an Update Completed notification. Click Rescan if you want to update more apps. 
click rescan to run the scan again

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides updating your apps on Mac, MacKeeper is your one-stop solution for all Mac optimization needs, like removing junk files, deleting duplicate files, uninstalling unused apps, and running a virus scan on your Mac. Read my detailed MacKeeper review to learn about its features in detail.

2. Enable Automatic Updates  on Mac

If you’re as forgetful as I am, remembering to check for updates and installing them can be a hassle. For people like us, there is a convenient way to update apps on macOS: enable automatic updates on your Mac.

Here are the steps to enable automatic updates on Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Software Update.
click general and select software update
  1. Click the small i icon next to Automatic updates.
click the small i icon next to automatic updates
  1. A new window will appear. Here, toggle on the Install application updates from the App Store switch.
toggle on the install application updates from the app store switch
  1. You can also enable the automatic installation of macOS updates, system files, and Security Responses updates. Once you have made your selections, click Done.
enable automatic updates of macos system files and security responses and click done
  1. Enter your Mac password to confirm.
  2. Now, your Mac will automatically check for and install updates in the background without any additional steps.

3. Manually Update Apps from the Mac App Store

If your automatic app updates are taking longer than you’d like, consider manually updating them through the App Store. This approach puts you in control, allowing you to choose when to download the latest features and security updates.

Here’s how to update apps on macOS via the App Store:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select App Store.
click the apple menu and select app store
  1. Click the Updates tab in the App Store window.
click updates in the left sidebar
  1. If updates are available, you will see a list of apps that can be updated.
available app updates in app store 1
  1. Click the Update button next to each app that has an update available.
click the update button next to an app
  1. And just like that, you’ve updated an app on your Mac.
  2. Now, follow the same steps for all apps.

4. Update Apps Downloaded From the Web

Did you know there’s a whole world of apps beyond the Mac App Store? You can download apps directly from your browser. But here’s the catch, if you download an app from the web, you won’t see any updates for it in the App Store. Keeping these non-App Store apps updated is still straightforward, though.

Here’s how you can manage updates for apps you’ve downloaded from the web:

  1. Open the app you want to update.
  2. Click the app’s name in the menu bar, and select Check for Updates.
  3. If an update is available, click to install it.
  4. If encountering difficulty updating an application, access its About section and note its current version number. Check the developer’s website for any available updates and compare them to the current version. If you find a newer version, uninstall the current app from your Mac and install the updated version.

5. Use the In-App Update Option

Apple’s App Store makes it easy to update your apps, but some apps also have their own in-app update option. This makes updating them easier and faster than ever. Here’s how to use the in-app update option to update apps on macOS:

All apps don’t offer the in-app update option. I have used Firefox as an example.

  1. Open Firefox on your Mac.
  2. Click the three horizontal lines in the top-right corner and select Settings from the drop-down menu.
click the menu icon select settings
  1. In the General tab, scroll down to the Firefox Updates section. Click the Restart to Update Firefox button if an update is available.
click the restart to update firefox button
  1. After the restart, your Firefox will be updated with the latest features and bug fixes.
  2. You can also check the Automatically install updates (recommended) option to allow Firefox to install updates in the background.
check the automatically install updates recommended option

6. Update Stock Apps With macOS Update

Some of your most-used apps, like Calendar, Music, and Notes, cannot be updated via the App Store. Instead, they update automatically when you update your macOS.

Here are the steps to update your Stock Apps with a macOS update:

  1. Make sure your Mac is connected to the Internet.
  2. Click the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Software Update to open the updates menu.
click general and select software update
  1. Your Mac will check for updates automatically. If your Mac is up-to-date, it will show your current macOS version. But if an update is available, click the Update Now button to download and install it.
click the update now button
  1. Wait for the update to finish downloading and installing. Once the update is installed, your Stock Apps will also be updated to their latest versions.

7. Use Terminal Commands to Update Apps

Using Terminal commands might seem a bit intimidating at first, but it’s a handy tool that can streamline your update process, especially when you have numerous apps to manage.

Here’s how to use Terminal commands for updating apps on macOS:

  1. Launch the Terminal application on your Mac. You can find it in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder.
launch terminal from utilities
  1. Type the following command and press Enter:
softwareupdate -i
type softwareupdate i command in terminal
  1. This will activate the Software Update Tool.
software update tool in terminal
  1. Type the following command and press Enter:
sudo softwareupdate -ia --verbose
type sudo softwareupdate ia verbose
  1. Type your Mac’s password and press Enter.

Remember, the password won’t show in the Terminal window.

enter your macs password in terminal
  1. You’ll get a Finding available software notification. Wait while the Terminal searches the macOS servers for available updates.
finding available software notification in terminal
  1. If updates are available, you’ll get a list of available updates. But if no updates are available, you’ll get a No updates are available message and return to the command prompt.
no updates are available message

What If the Mac App Store Cannot Update Apps

If you’re having trouble updating an app on your Mac and getting the Cannot Update App error, here’s how to troubleshoot and potentially resolve the issue:

  1. 🛜 Check Your Internet Connection: Ensure your Mac is connected to the internet. Sometimes, connectivity issues can prevent apps from updating.
  2. 🔛 Restart Your Mac: A simple restart can often resolve many issues, including problems with app updates.
  3. 🔍 Check for macOS Updates: Make sure your Mac is running the latest macOS version. Sometimes, app updates require the latest version of the operating system.
  4. 📱 Check the App’s Compatibility: Some apps may not be compatible with your macOS version, which can prevent them from updating. Check the app’s requirements on the App Store or the developer’s website.
  5. 🔑 Sign Out and Sign In to the App Store:
    • Open the App Store.
    • From the menu bar at the top of your screen, choose Store > Sign Out.
    • Sign back in with your Apple ID and try updating the app again.
  1. 💾 Free Up Storage Space: Lack of storage space can prevent apps from updating. Check your Mac’s storage and free up space if necessary.
  2. 📞 Contact Apple Support or the App Developer: If none of the above solutions work, contact Apple Support or the app developer for further assistance.

Remember, your steps might vary slightly depending on your macOS version and the specific app you’re trying to update.

Always Keep Your Mac Apps Up to Date

Apps crashing and Mac freezing are common when your apps or macOS are outdated. You’ll encounter fewer issues if your Mac is up-to-date. Here are some tips to keep in mind when updating your apps on macOS:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I check which apps are up-to-date on my Mac?

    To check which apps are up-to-date on your Mac, open the App Store app and click the Updates tab. If there are no available updates, all your apps are up-to-date.

  2. How often should I update apps on my Mac?

    You should update apps on your Mac whenever updates are available to ensure smooth functioning and security. You can enable automatic updates or manually check for updates to keep your apps up-to-date.

  3. Can I disable automatic updates on Mac?

    Yes, you can disable automatic updates on Mac by toggling off the Install application updates from the App Store switch in the App Store Settings. However, enabling automatic updates is recommended to keep your apps updated with the latest features and bug fixes.

  4. What to do if an app update causes issues on my Mac?

    If an app update causes issues on your Mac, uninstall and reinstall the app to see if it resolves the issue. You can also try restoring the app to an earlier version. If the problem persists, contact the app developer for support.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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