“An Error Occurred While Preparing the Installation”, Fix

Updating your Mac to the latest version of the macOS software is usually easy and straightforward. However, you may run into Mac update issues. A common installation error message that a lot of users are receiving is below:

“An error occurred while preparing the installation. Try running this application again.”

You may see this message when you want to install or reinstall an update or upgrade. This article explains how you can fix this problem.

See also: The macOS Installation Couldn’t Be Completed Error Fix

An Error Occurred while preparing the installation. Try running this application again

Here is how you can fix this problem:

Please try the following troubleshooting tips in order. After trying each step, test to see if you’ve fixed your issue.

1. Restart your Mac.

Simply restart your Mac to see if this fixes your problem.

2. Check the date and time.

Make sure that the date and time on your Mac are set correctly. Here is how you can check this:

  • On your Mac, click System Preferences, then choose Date & Time. If your settings are not correct, update them. You may also want to check the “set date and time automatically” box to turn on the option to set date and time automatically.
  • However, the option above may not work for you as you may not access System Preferences if your Mac stuck in the middle of a macOS update. Then you can use Terminal (Applications / Utilities) to update your date and time settings. Here is how:
    • Turn off your Mac, you can do so by pressing and holding the power button.
    • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Command (⌘)-R keys together. Keep holding these keys until you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe.
    • Your Mac will start up from macOS Recovery. This may take time so be patient.
    • Enter your password, if asked.
    • You will see the “macOS Utilities” window.
    • From the top menu, click Utilities and Terminal. This will open the Terminal window.
    • In Termina, enter the following command and hit enter:
    • date
    • This will give you your computers time and date setting. Is that correct? If not, update it:
    • If your Mac has an Internet connection, enter the following command and hit enter:
    • ntpdate -u time.apple.com
    • This will automatically update the setting. If you have no Internet connection, then you will have to manually update this setting:
    • Enter the current date using this format: date mmddHHMMyy”. (mm = two-digit month, dd = two-digit day, HH = 24 hour, MM = minute, yy = 2 digit year) So if it is currently 11:46am, April 03, 2020, the command would look like: “date 0403114620”. So enter something like this:
    • date 0403114620
    • Again let’s doublecheck, enter the date command again to see if your Mac has the correct setting.
    • Now exit Terminal and try again.

3. Try installing in Safe Mode.

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key.
  • Keep holding the Shift key until you see the Apple logo.
  • Log in, you may have to log in a few times.
  • Now your computer is in Safe Mode.
  • Try updating your Mac now. Does it work?
  • To exit Safe Mode, restart your Mac normally.

4. Use macOS Recovery.

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press one of the keyboard combinations:
    • Command (⌘)-R: This reinstalls the latest macOS version that was installed on your Mac.
    • Option-⌘-R: This will update your Mac to the latest compatible macOS version.
    • Shift-Option-⌘-R: This will install the macOS version that came with your Mac.
  • Click Reinstall macOS and then Continue.

5. Use a combo update.

  • Please note that you can use this method to update your Mac from a prior version of macOS within the same major release. For example, the macOS 10.15.4 combo update requires that macOS 10.15.0 or later is installed.
  • Download the necessary macOS combo update from the Apple website.
  • They are dmg files. Also, note that they are very large files.
  • Double click the install the file. And then follow the onscreen instructions.

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University.

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19 thoughts on ““An Error Occurred While Preparing the Installation”, Fix”

  1. BRO! I’ve spent the past 2 days trying to figure this out and in 5 minutes I was successful in download MOS on my 2010 MB Pro! Was getting the error nonstop til I read this! THANK YOU! Downloading MOS as I type this!

    Reply
  2. Many thanks Kurt. I have spent hours trying to upgrade a MacBook Pro early 2011 from Sierra to High Sierra with no success until I found your article.
    Step 4 and selecting ‘Option-Cmd-R’ for latest compatible macOS version did the trick.
    The whole process did take a couple of hours though.

    Reply
  3. My mac has that folder with a question mark, so when I try to reinstall the OS with command and R, it’ll take me through to the 1 second left and I’ll get that “error occurred while preparing the installation. Try running the application again.”. I cannot do anything else but try and try again and it never reinstalls the OS (High Sierra). I did check the date/time and it was fine. I can’t get it started in safe mode, cause I have the folder with the question mark, etc.

    Reply
    • Did you happen to fix that problem if you did could you please show me how I can’t seem to fix mine I have the same problem

      Reply
      • Hello

        I was experiencing the same problem as you, Vai, Pritt, Jeff and Tom.

        I solved it by using

        “Method 4
        Turn off your Mac.
        Turn on your Mac and immediately press one of the keyboard combinations:
        – Option-⌘-R: This will update your Mac to the latest compatible macOS version.”

        It didn’t work the first time. The second time it worked.

        Reply
        • Howdy! I pushed those buttons and it sent me directly to a globe icon and then asked me for my wifi password. Did this happen to you? And if so what were your next steps?

          Reply
  4. Option 4 got my Early 2011 vintage MacBook Pro to upgrade from Sierra to High Sierra. That made it compatible with software required for my college math class. Thank you so much.

    Reply

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