Update macOS from Terminal

Written by Michael Lee on February 3, 2017

My personal laptop is an old 2009 MacBook Pro. The RAM has been maxed out but I’m still using the same old HDD it came with. It’s not the quickest machine but I can still get a lot done on the machines.

One of the pains of this laptop is trying to update it through the App Store. I often get hang ups when trying to download updates and it takes forever for it to check if there are available updates.

Thankfully there’s a more reliable and painless way of updating macOS from the Terminal using the command softwareupdate. I found the process of updating through softwareupdate more delightful than trying to update this old machine with the Mac App Store.

To update macOS from the command line, first fire up Terminal.app and then execute the commands below.

List all available updates

softwareupdate -l

Install all available updates

sudo softwareupdate -iva

sudo is needed to grant superuser privelages to install the updates.iva are options passed to the softwareupdate command.

i is used to tell softwareupdate to install
v is used to tell softwareupdate to execute in verbose mode to output things like the percent progress
a is used in combination with i and it tells softwareupdate to install all available updates

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