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00_software_update_logoNobody could find the word “perfect” in the dictionary of the software development world. On the opposite side, “updates” is the one of the most frequently used words; along with bugs, fixes, and upgrades.

Keeping up with the constant updates is an art in itself. Not everybody has the time nor the willingness to do that. That’s why most modern software and operating systems have the automatic-updates feature built in.

Mac OS X is no exception.

Software Update Settings

Mac OS X uses an application called Software Update to help keep users up to date with all Apple-related updates. This app is located in the Apple Menu.



By default, Software Update will regularly check the updates in the background. But the settings can be changed via System Preferences –> Software Updates 02_software_update_system_preferences

After the Software Updates Preferences window opens, choose the “Scheduled Check” tab.


Users can also check all the updates that have been installed in the past from the “Installed Updates” tab.


Everything is set to run automatically, from checking to the installing. With user’s permission, Software Updates will acquire the files, install them, and get out of the sight. But the minimal user participation might not fit everyone’s preference.

The Missing Updates

From my low-speed internet connection point of view, most of the updates downloaded from Apple are enormously huge. Some files could go above a hundred megabytes. The thought of having to re-downloading them again gives me major goosebumps.


But it seems that after the installation process, all the downloaded files are nowhere to be found. It means that under this condition, if a person who owns (or manages) several Macs wants update OS X, he/she has to download all of the updates in each and every machine. Wow.

Editor’s note: You may also find some software update packages in /Library/Receipts/

I’m sure that there are a lot of Mac users who would like to backup the updates to be reused later – or to be installed on other machine(s) – but don’t know how.

There’s an easy way to do just that.

Saving the Updates

In the updating process, right after the Software Update window has opened, do not click the “Install X Item(s)” below. Instead, click on the Update menu and choose “Download Only”. 06_software_update___download_onlyThen, continue with the updating process.

After the download is done, you can choose to install the update packages or just close the Software Update window.


Either way, the downloaded packages are stored in the Download folder.


Using this method, me and my fellow Mac users with crawling internet connections could collect and share updates. We can save time, bandwidth, and money; while strengthening the bonds among members of the community.

As always, share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in the comment below. And don’t forget to check out other MakeUseOf articles about software updates.

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