Mac Not Updating To The Latest macOS Version? Fix

This article explains how you can fix the software update problem. More specifically, the focus of this article is on what you can do to when your Mac won’t update to the latest version of macOS.

Some Mac users, unfortunately, have been and continue to be affected by various macOS software update issues where they may experience a stalled macOS update. By stalled, we mean that macOS updates won’t download and install successfully.

Sometimes, you may see an error message saying “The macOS installation couldn’t be completed” or “macOS could not be installed on your computer”.

macOS update

Mac Won’t Update?

Please try the tips belove if you are unable to update your computer:

It is important that you back up your Mac before you do anything.

There could be a variety of reasons for this. Before you do anything:

  • Make sure there is enough space to download and install an update. If not, you may see error messages. To see if your computer has enough room to store the update, go to the Apple menu > About This Mac and click the Storage tap. You can easily free up storage space on your Mac.
  • If you see a “Update Not Found” error, see this article.
  • Make sure that you have an Internet connection to update your Mac. You can troubleshoot your connection.
  • Be patient. An update may take some time. Just waiting may fix your problem. Sometimes more than a few hours. Do not put your Mac to sleep or closing its lid. Also ensure than your Macbook, if it is a Macbook, it is plugged it into AC power.
  • If the update does not complete, your computer may seem stuck or frozen, for an extended time, try to restart your computer by pressing and holding the power button on your Mac for up to 10 seconds.
  • If you have any external hard drives or peripherals connected to your Mac, try removing them. And try to update now.
  • Reset PRAM on your Mac and then try again. To reset PRAM, turn off your Mac and then turn it on and immediately press and hold the Option, Command, P, and R keys together for about 20 seconds.
  • It is possible that your Mac may unable to reach the update server. There could be two reasons for this:
    • You may have a slow internet connection. You may want to restart your router and modem to fix this problem. If you are using a Wi-Fi connection, try a wired connection, if possible.
    • Or there could be issues with Apple servers. It is possible that Apple servers are overloaded as a lot of people may be trying to update. You can check if Apple servers are experiencing issues.

Apple server status

If you are still having issues, then you may try the followings:

Safe mode

Try updating your Mac in safe mode. Here is how:

  • Startup your Mac in safe mode. To do that, turn off your Mac and then turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key until you see the login screen. Then release the Shift key. And login.Safe boot
  • Now your computer is in safe mode. Try to update now.
  • Then exit safe mode when you are done (in either case). To exit safe mode, restart your Mac normally, without pressing the Shift key.

Combo update

You can use a combo update to install Mac updates. Please note that before you continue, you may want to back up your Mac. You can back up with Time Machine or you can use iCloud.

Please note that combo updates let you update your Mac from a prior version of macOS within the same major release. A combo update is a combined update that means that it contains all of the changes since the original release of that major version. This further means that, using a combo update, you can update from macOS 10.15 directly to Mac OS X 10.15.2, skipping the 10.15.1. But you cannot go from, let’s say, 10.14.x to 10.15.x. For example, using a combo update, you cannot upgrade from macOS Mojave to macOS Catalina.

Please note that combo updates are huge. Here is how you can use them:

  • Visit Apple’s combo updates site: https://support.apple.com/downloads/macos
  • Find the right combo update. And download it. As stated above, they can be huge. The combo will download as a .dmg file.
  • Now quit all apps on your Mac.
  • Double-click the downloaded file, if it does not start automatically.
  • Follow the onscreen instructions.

Using macOS Recovery to update your Mac

If you still could not update, you may try this. To do this, you need to restart your Mac from macOS Recovery. Using the method below, you will be able to upgrade to the latest macOS that is compatible with your Mac. Here is how:

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Option-⌘-R keys together until you see the Apple logo or the spinning globe icon.
  • Login.
  • Click Reinstall macOS and follow the onscreen instructions.

macOS Recovery
See also: How to fix Catalina update problems

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. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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47 thoughts on “Mac Not Updating To The Latest macOS Version? Fix”

  1. My brand new out of the box Macbook Air 13” 2018 operating on Mojave will not download and install Bug Sur
    The computer sat unopened for all that time due to a family tragedy. So I was excited to get it rolling

    But its been 36 hours of restarting and retrying to update and it just won’t. I’m sad and frustrated and need help

    Reply

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