How to Update Your Mac’s Software via Terminal


Running common tasks through the command line cna reduce your maintenance workload, especially if you’re administering a number of Macs. Using a combination of system commands and open-source repositories, you can update the macOS software via the Terminal application.

Below are the steps on how to update the built-in macOS software using the softwareupdate command in Terminal.

STEP 1: Open your Applications folder, then go to Utilities.

STEP 2: Click on Terminal.

STEP 3: Type the command: softwareupdate -l then press [Enter].

NOTE: This will list all the macOS updates that are currently available from your system.

STEP 4: Wait for a moment while it searches the macOS servers for updates.

NOTE: If there are any updates available, softwareupdate will indicate which updates are available. Otherwise, you will be returned to the command prompt.

STEP 5: To install all available updates, type the command: sudo softwareupdate -ia –verbose then press [Enter].

STEP 6: Type in your password when prompted, then press [Enter].

NOTE: The update process will now start, displaying each program’s progress as it updates.

STEP 7: When the update process is finished, you will be returned to the command prompt.

Softwareupdate Flags

  • The “–verbose” flag is optional, but it will give live status reports as updates are installed. If you have a lot of updates to process, this flag will keep you in pace with the current status.
  • The “-i” flag stands for “install” and will begin the installation process for selected apps.
  • The “-a” flag stands for “all” and it will install all available updates.
  • The “-r” flag stands for “recommended.” For example, “softwareupdate -ir” will “install” only “recommended” updates.
  • The “-h” flag stands for “help” and will show all available commands.
  • To install just one update, use the command “softwareupdate -i [package name]“For example,
    “softwareupdate -i RemoteDesktopClient-3.9.2″ will install only the RemoteDesktopClient 3.9.2 update.
  • To ignore specific updates, use the “–ignore” flag.For example, “softwareupdate –ignore RemoteDesktopClient-3.9.2″ will hide the 3.9.2 update of RemoteDesktopClient. You will be alerted once a new update is available.

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