How to fix it when Mac stuck on checking for updates

The process of installing macOS updates has changed significantly in recent years, thanks to Apple’s focus on improving security and the transition from Intel chips to Apple silicon. Although checking for updates and installing them looks the same from the user’s point of view, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. One of the consequences of this change is that updates are now much less likely to fail than they used to. However, nothing is perfect, and there are still plenty of occasions when updating your Mac doesn’t go as smoothly as it should. In this article, we’ll show you what to do if Mac software update stuck on checking for updates.

System Preferences - Software Update

Why is my Mac stuck on checking for updates?

There are lots of possible reasons for your Mac getting stuck checking for updates. Here are the most common ones: 

  • Poor internet connection: it could be that your Wi-Fi network or internet connection is very slow or has stopped working altogether.
  • Issues with Apple’s servers: if they are busy or down, you won’t be able to update your macOS. 
  • The lack of free storage: it could be that there’s not enough space for the installer to download and run.
  • Software glitches: some system extensions may be preventing your Mac from updating.

The good news is that whatever the reason, it’s very unlikely to be serious, so you should be able to fix it quite easily.

How to fix it when your Mac is stuck on checking for updates

We’ve listed the steps you should take in order of the easiest to do and the most likely to fix the issue, so it’s a good idea to follow them in order.

1. Make sure it’s really stuck

Is your Mac really stuck on checking for updates, or is it just taking longer than it normally does? Before taking action to fix the problem, make sure it’s not just a little slow. Carry on using your Mac or go and make a cup of coffee. Give it half an hour or so. If it’s still checking after that, go to the next step.

2. Check how much free storage you have

A lack of free storage shouldn’t prevent your Mac from checking for updates, but it might prevent one from installing, so it’s worth checking now. Go to System Settings > General > Storage and make sure you have at least 25GB free.

System Preferences - Storage

Of course, it’s better to have more than 25GB of free storage to make sure that your Mac runs smoothly. If you wonder how to free up space, check out this handy article with the most effective cleaning tips and tricks.

3. Free up RAM

Freeing up RAM can fix lots of problems on your Mac. You can do it by using Activity Monitor to find resource-hungry apps, but a third-party tool may be a faster and more effective way to help you. We recommend CleanMyMac X. Its Maintenance module can not only free up RAM but also repair disk permissions, run macOS maintenance scripts, reindex Spotlight, and more. It’s free to download here, so you can try it for yourself. When you’ve downloaded it, follow the steps below to free up RAM:

  1. Open CleanMyMac X and choose Maintenance in the sidebar.
  2. Select the box next to Free Up RAM.
  3. Click Run.
Free up Mac RAM with CleanMyMacX

Once it’s finished, try checking for updates again.

4. Restart your Mac

Restarting your Mac is an excellent way to fix lots of problems your Mac may be having. It clears out memory, gets rid of temporary files, and resets the NVRAM and SMC on Macs with Apple silicon.

Just head over to the main Apple menu and click Restart.

Once you’ve restarted your Mac, go back to System Settings > General > Software Update and try checking for updates once again.

5. Check your internet connection

If restarting your Mac didn’t work, the next step is to check your internet connection. Is it running slowly? Is it dropping out? macOS updates are several gigabytes in size and need a stable internet connection. Try streaming a video to see if your internet connection is OK.

6. Check Apple’s servers

If your internet connection is fine, it’s time to check the other end — Apple’s servers. Apple has a page on its website where you can check the status of all of its online services, including updates. The page is here. Click the link and look for ‘macOS Software Update.’ If it has a green light next to it, it’s working properly. If not, the update server may have a problem, and you’ll have to wait until it’s fixed.

7. Restart in safe mode

If nothing so far has worked, the next thing to try is to restart in safe mode. Safe mode loads only those extensions that are needed for your Mac to boot, meaning that if the problem is being caused by an extension, it should be resolved. On Macs with Apple silicon, it also performs a check on your boot disk and fixes any problems it finds. Before restarting in safe mode, it’s a good idea to disconnect any peripherals you’re not using.

The process for restarting in Safe Mode is different for Apple silicon and Intel-based Macs. Choose the method for your Mac below.

Apple silicon

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the power button until you see ‘Loading startup options’ on the screen.
  3. When you see the option on the screen, choose your startup disk and press and hold the Shift key.
  4. Choose Continue in Safe Mode.
  5. Your Mac will restart, and you will see ‘Safe Boot’ in the menu bar.


  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the Shift key and then press the power button.
  3. Release the Shift key when you see the login window.
  4. Log in with your usual admin username and password.
  5. Log in again if necessary.
  6. Your Mac will restart, and when it boots, you will see Safe Boot in the menu bar.

8. Reinstall macOS

This is the most drastic solution since it means booting your Mac in recovery mode and reinstalling macOS from scratch. However, if nothing else works and you can’t update, it’s worth doing. Be sure to back up your Mac before you start because while you shouldn’t lose data during the reinstall, it’s always a possibility. It’s best to use Time Machine to run the backup because you can then restore your data very easily.

As with safe mode, the process for booting your Mac into recovery mode is different for Apple silicon and Intel Macs. Follow the steps below for your Mac.

Apple silicon

  1. Shut down your Mac and then press and hold the power button until you see startup options.
  2. Select the gear icon labeled Options.
  3. Click Continue.


  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press the power button and hold down Command-R until you see an Apple logo or other image.

When your Mac finishes booting, you will see the macOS Utilities screen. From there, choose Reinstall macOS. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Once macOS has been reinstalled, you can check for updates again from System Settings.

Keeping your Mac up to date is important for security reasons as well as to take advantage of new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. So it’s frustrating when it gets stuck on checking for updates. Thankfully, it’s usually easily fixed. Most of the time, all you have to do is wait a little while and try again. But if that doesn’t work, follow the steps above in order, and you should be able to update your Mac.

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