How to Update macOS Using a Simple Terminal Command

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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If you're sick of waiting for the progress bar to complete every time you reboot after a macOS software update, then you'll be pleased to learn there's another way to update your Mac that could potentially reduce your downtime.

The process involves a simple Terminal command, and allows you to continue using your Mac as the update downloads and the initial software installation takes place in the background. In our tests, we found that this method was capable of shaving off several minutes of idle time during installation restarts, but that the time-saving depends on the machine and the update in question.

Users with older Macs in particular will likely appreciate this tip, as it saves having to fire up the Mac App Store altogether, which can be slow-going and sometimes even downright unresponsive. Read on to find out how it's done.


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Article Link: How to Update macOS Using a Simple Terminal Command
 

uajafd

macrumors member
Jun 17, 2015
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The newer updates now need a reboot to the installer and a subsequent reboot to complete installation. The softwareupdate tool will only download, unpack, and set EFI to reboot to the installer. Maybe it's only a feature of beta updates, but still good to know in case of surprising behavior.

(Application updates like Safari and iTunes are installed the usual/old way. Fortunately.)
 
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npmacuser5

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Apr 10, 2015
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Buy Apple Products so I do not need the terminal commands. When I feel like I am missing the good old days, fire up my RaspberryPi. :D
 

nt5672

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2007
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Buy Apple Products so I do not need the terminal commands. When I feel like I am missing the good old days, fire up my RaspberryPi. :D
I used to think like this also. But these days the Apple UI is getting so bad, that I have started using the command line more and more. I have to agree with the article, the App Store app sucks. When it was just the software update app it seemed to work just fine.

But the App Store app UI is usually out of sync with what is actually happening. If you are like me, when its time to install updates, I want them installed now, not sometime in the future when the App Store app feels like. Usually, I have made extra backups and cleaned everything up, before installing. After the update I check a number of things to make sure they are not hosed.

5 years ago I installed Apple update without any additional work, the day they were released. Not any more. Apple has, by its actions, lost my trust. Today I won't install any update until after its been out for weeks, if not longer. IMO Apple's main thrust these days is publicity, not performance and reliability and I am not willing to let their lack of ability effect my income.
 
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grad

macrumors regular
Jun 2, 2014
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Buy Apple Products so I do not need the terminal commands. When I feel like I am missing the good old days, fire up my RaspberryPi. :D
It's the opposite thing for many others though. They got to or stayed with Macs because of the terminal. It's hard to think of a good OS without one.
 
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fairuz

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2017
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The Mac App Store is so bad that people actually do this. But I'd still avoid this sort of thing unless it's an emergency. Just do it the way they tell you, and at least support can help you out.

Luckily, they provide standalone Xcode update downloads from the dev site. I can't deal with the MAS updating my Xcode and 8 times out of 10 glitching out and ruining my work day.
 

TeeHawkZ32

macrumors regular
Jan 4, 2016
117
130
Perhaps the article should have a bit of a disclaimer for users unfamiliar with terminals? I can foresee a lot of potentially frustrated users trying to call support for help with this.
 

npmacuser5

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Apr 10, 2015
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It's the opposite thing for many others though. They got to or stayed with Macs because of the terminal. It's hard to think of a good OS without one.
My point, a good OS, no need for terminal. Apple makes a good OS, for most terminal rarely if ever needed. The reason I stay with MacOS.
 

coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
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Vancouver, BC
Unfortunately, I think this might get laughed at.
What many people don't realize is that the graphic interface simply sits on top of these terminal commands. Sometimes "pretty" interfaces get in the way. Apple did a terrible job designing the Mac App Store interface, so being able to bypass that entirely is a welcome bonus!
 

Wrecklass

macrumors newbie
Aug 13, 2010
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My point, a good OS, no need for terminal. Apple makes a good OS, for most terminal rarely if ever needed. The reason I stay with MacOS.
As a software engineer I'm always amazed that there are people who are so CLI-phobic. The GUI has little or nothing to do with the OS. Neither does the terminal for that matter. They are both human user interfaces to communicate with the machine OS.

The difference is the CLI typically provides more options and is more concise in how you do things.

Given the time and resources to create a GUI there are often compromises made to get the basic functionality without providing all of the options.

macOS is a Unix based OS at it's core, just like Solaris, Linux or FreeBSD. Lots of money allowed Apple to create better than average GUI apps and interfaces. There is little magic in the Darwin OS itself.

Praising the CLI over the GUI is a matter of preference and what you need to get done.
 

KazKam

macrumors 6502
Oct 25, 2011
483
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I know I've posted this in other threads related to software updates in macOS, but man, I REALLY miss the old Software Update. It was concise but still had all the information I needed to make an informed decision about an update (each update its own line item, terse description and change log, restart requirement, FILE SIZE, and it seemed much faster at scanning your system and refreshing available updates.

The App Store "Updates" tab OTOH is slooooooooow, convoluted, takes up four times the space yet tells me less, buries individual updates under macOS updates, and won't tell me how large a file is before I decide to download it. It sucks.

Edit: I half wonder if Apple is being intentionally obtuse about updates. I get the impression they'd be super happy if the choice of updating anything was taken out of the hands of users entirely and they were able to foist every update instantaneously, damn the consequences.
 
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Nicky G

macrumors 6502a
Mar 24, 2002
861
319
Baltimore
Whenever I see articles regarding Terminal it reminds me of this story regarding # rm -rf *

http://www.lug.wsu.edu/node/414
That command, or something that ends up being akin to it, absolutely bites people's behinds. I've had clients lose data over it... o_O
[doublepost=1519946992][/doublepost]
macOS is a Unix based OS at it's core
Is UNIX. According to Wikipedia:

UNIX 03 certification was achieved for the Intel version of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard[12] and all releases from Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard up to the current version also have UNIX 03 certification.
 
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dagger01

macrumors regular
Jan 14, 2004
121
4
USA
How do we not update with a terminl command?
man softwareupdate

...that will give you the options, one of which is ignore.
[doublepost=1519948640][/doublepost]
My point, a good OS, no need for terminal. Apple makes a good OS, for most terminal rarely if ever needed. The reason I stay with MacOS.
Terrible point. A good OS needs a GUI and a terminal. That's why when Mac OS X first came out it was awesome compared to its contemporaries in the desktop computing market. Many a Linux geek I knew at the time (2001) went, "This is what Linux should be like!"
 
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