How to update Mac OS X and Mac apps from the terminal

From time to time, you will find that there is an update available for your macOS system or for the apps installed on your computer. It is important to keep system software and apps up to date. This ensures that your system is stable and your apps are bug-free.

On a Mac computer, you have several ways to update the operating system and applications. The traditional way to get and install new updates is to use the official Mac App Store on your computer.

However, you are not tied to it to install your updates. You can also use the Terminal app to find, download and install various updates on your computer. There are also configurable options that let you decide how to install these updates.

Update the macOS version from the terminal

Terminal has a command that checks all available macOS updates and allows you to download and install them on your computer. The command also allows you to update Apple apps like iTunes on your Mac.

What it doesn’t do though is install updates for third-party apps installed on your computer. For these apps, you will need to install a package described in the next part of this guide.

Find system updates available for macOS

The first thing you’ll want to do is check what updates are available for your macOS and Apple apps. Checking doesn’t necessarily mean downloading or installing updates. It’s just to give you an idea of ​​what needs to be updated on your Mac.

Start the terminal app using your preferred method on your Mac.

When the app starts, type the following command and press log into.

software update -l

Terminal window with command: softwareupdate -l

It will search for all available updates and display them in the Terminal window. The information you will see includes the app names, the size of the update, whether the update is recommended or not, and whether the update requires a restart of your computer.

Software update tool in the terminal

You can also check for updates with Terminal and then install them from the App Store if you want to do it this way.

Download macOS system updates

After you find out what updates are available, you may want to download those updates to your Mac. Note that the download also does not require the updates to be installed. You can just keep the updates downloaded and not install them right away.

  • Start the terminal app and type the following command and press log into.

    software update -d -a

Terminal with command: softwareupdate -d -a
  • It will download all available updates but will not install them. You will find these update files in / Library / Updates / folder on your Mac.

Install the downloaded macOS updates

Updates downloaded using the Terminal command cannot be installed manually. These updates can only be installed using a command in the Terminal app.

To install them, you must first find out the name of the update and then use that name below to get the update installed on your Mac.

Terminal window with the command: softwareupdate -i update-name

It will notify you when the update is installed on your computer. This shouldn’t take too long as the update has already been downloaded to your Mac and just needs to be installed.

Download and install all macOS updates

What you did in the previous sections was update things a little at a time. What if you want to find, download and install all macOS updates in one go? Well, Terminal has you covered.

There is a command that allows you to install all available updates on your Mac in one run.

  • Open the terminal app and run the following command inside it.

    software update -i -a

Terminal with command: softwareupdate -i -a

The command will get all the updates installed and let you know when it’s finished. This will take longer than the previous methods as it first downloads all the updates and then installs them one by one on your computer.

Update Mac apps from terminal

Third-party apps not developed by Apple require updates of commands other than Terminal on the Mac. These app updates will not appear when you run the above-mentioned commands.

In order to update all your Mac Store apps, you will need to install Homebrew followed by “mas” on your computer. It will then allow you to update your other apps.

Open the terminal app and run the following command to install Homebrew.

/ usr / bin / ruby ​​-e “$ (curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)”

Terminal window with the command: / usr / bin / ruby ​​-e "$ (curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

When Homebrew is installed, type the following command and press log into to install the utility mas.

brew install mas

Terminal with command: brew install mas

When mas is installed, you can run the command below to see a list of all apps that can be updated using this utility.

mass list

Terminal with utility list max

Type the following command and press log into to see all apps that require an update.

but obsolete

Terminal window with obsolete mas

Run the following command to update all outdated apps. It will first download the updates for all the outdated apps and then install them, so wait a good amount of time before it runs out.

mass update

Terminal window with mas upgrade command

Wait for the utility to update your apps. When finished, you can close the Terminal window.

You don’t necessarily have to keep mas and Homebrew installed on your Mac if you don’t plan to update your apps this way in the future. Uninstalling them won’t affect any updated apps on your Mac, so it’s safe to remove them if you wish.

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