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macOS / OS X / Mac OS X System Updates Explained

Article ID = 38
Article Title = macOS / OS X / Mac OS X System Updates Explained
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 13th July 2011
Article Last Updated = 10th December 2015
Article URL = http://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?38

Article Brief Description:
Explanation of the different ways of updating the macOS operating system

OS X System Updates

There are actually four different types of OS X System Updates.

Types Of OS X System Updates

  • System Specific = If a new Mac gets released just before/after an OS update then Apple may release a "System Specific" OS X system update. Examples of system specific updates include:
  • NOTE: System specific updates will usually get rolled into the next "Combo" update.
  • Model Specific = If a new Mac gets released before the next OS update and there are significant software updates available for that particular model, or there is a specific fix for an Apple product prior to the next available combo update, Apple may release a "Model Specific" software update. Examples of model specific software updates include:
  • NOTE: Model specific updates will usually get rolled into the next "Combo" update.
  • Security Update = Security updates contain very important patches to vulnerable parts of the system. Where possible you should always install security updates, sooner rather than later.
  • NOTE: Security updates for the latest version of OS X will usually get rolled into the next "Combo" update. Security updates for older OSes usually get rolled into the next security update (effectively creating a combo security update).
    The latest OS X security updates are:
  • Delta = This type of update is available going from one incremental version of OS X to the next e.g. from OS X 10.10.2 to 10.10.3. The size of a Delta update may be different for different computers.
  • NOTE: We do not recommend installing "Delta" updates because far more problems are reported after installing delta updates than combo updates.
  • Combo = The latest "Combo" update is what we always recommend installing because it will make sure all previous updates and patches are applied correctly/installed as well as installing the latest ones.

How to install OS X System Updates

Basic Method (System/Model Specific and/or Delta Update)
  1. Go to Apple menu > Software Update or Apple Menu > App Store… > Updates tab (top right of App Store window).
  2. Wait for it to check for new software.
  3. If there is more than one update click the blue "More…" link and install individual updates as required by clicking each individual "Update" button to the right of the update information or install all updates in one go via the "Update All" button.
  4. Read, check and agree to any warnings or license agreements.
  5. Wait for the updates to download and install.
  6. (If necessary) restart your computer.
Recommended Method (Combo Update)
  1. Download the latest Combo update manually:
  2. To be safe, in preparation for installing the update:
    • Restart your computer.
    • Quit all running applications.
    • Disconnect all USB/FireWire devices except your keyboard and/or mouse.
    • Eject all optical discs.
    • Unmount all servers.
  3. If you are running OS X 10.10 or earlier repair your boot disk's permissions.
  4. Manually install the the latest Combo update from your 'Downloads' location.
  5. Restart your computer.
  6. Check Software Update (Apple menu > Software Update or Apple Menu > App Store… > Updates tab) for any additional security/supplemental updates.
  7. If you are running OS X 10.10 or earlier repair your boot disk's permissions.
Belt and Braces / Tinfoil Hat Method (Combo Update+)
  1. Check your hard disk with one or more of the following products. Boot from your current:
    • OS X Recovery HD and use Disk Utility to repair the hard disk.
    • Emergency Boot Disk and use Disk Utility / DiskWarrior / TechTool Pro to repair the hard disk.
      • Alsoft's DiskWarrior 5 - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
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      • Micromat's TechTool Pro 8
      • Micromat's TechTool Pro 7
      • Micromat's TechTool Pro 6 - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
      • Prosoft Engineering's Drive Genius 4 (Disk Directory Repair)
      • Prosoft Engineering's Drive Genius 3 (Disk Directory Repair) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
      • Prosoft Engineering's Data Rescue 4 (Data Recovery)
      • Prosoft Engineering's Data Rescue 3 (Data Recovery) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
    • Mac OS X install disc and use Disk Utility to repair the hard disk.
  2. Download the latest Combo update manually:
  3. To be safe, in preparation for installing the update:
    • Restart your computer.
    • Quit all running applications.
    • Disconnect all USB/FireWire devices except your keyboard and/or mouse.
    • Eject all optical discs.
    • Unmount all servers.
  4. Reboot to your normal boot disk in Safe Boot Mode.
  5. Manually install the the latest Combo update from your 'Downloads' location.
  6. Restart your computer.
  7. Check Software Update (Apple menu > Software Update or Apple Menu > App Store… > Updates tab) for any additional security/supplemental updates.
  8. If you are running OS X 10.10 or earlier repair your boot disk's permissions.

Article Keywords: Mac OS X OSX 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 1010 1011 macOS 1012 1013 Jaguar Panther Tiger Leopard Snow Leopard Lion Mountain Lion Mavericks Yosemite El Capitan Sierra High Sierra update updates delta combo

This article is © MacStrategy » a trading name of Burning Helix. Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


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All proceeds go directly to MacStrategy / Burning Helix Limited to help fund this web site.

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