How do I update my Mac when it says no updates are available?

Keeping macOS up to date is essential for maintaining your computer to keep it running smoothly and free from bugs and malware. Most of the time, it’s very easy. You just set Software Update to update automatically, and your Mac takes care of itself. But what do you do if you try to update and your Mac returns the message ‘no updates available’? We’ll tell you in this article.

System Preferences - Software Update

Why are there ‘no updates available’?

There are several reasons why your system doesn’t show an update:

  • Compatibility issues. Sometimes, your system won’t see an update because your Mac is no longer compatible with the latest macOS version released. 
  • Internet connection. If your internet connection is not stable, you won’t see any updates. 
  • Issues with Apple servers. If there are any problems with Apple’s update servers, you won’t see any updates.

What does ‘no updates available’ on your Mac mean?

If you check for an update by going to System Settings > General > Software Update and it says there is no update available, it might be that there is no update available for the version of macOS installed on your Mac, even though there is one for the most recent macOS.

However, it could also mean there is an update, but your Mac can’t find it for some reason. That could be because Apple’s servers are having problems or there’s an issue with your internet connection. It can also indicate a problem with macOS on your machine. We’ll show you how to fix each of those problems.

What to do if you see ‘no updates available’

Like most problems you’ll run into while using your Mac, the best way to solve this one is by eliminating the most obvious possible causes first. Here’s how to do that.

1. Restart your Mac

Often, restarting can flush out any problems, including temporary files, preventing you from connecting to Apple’s servers. It’s also good practice to restart your Mac every now and again.

2. Check your Wi-Fi and broadband

If your Wi-Fi network or internet connection aren’t working correctly, you won’t be able to connect to the software update server to check for updates. Open a web page in Safari to check. If that doesn’t load, try moving your Mac closer to your router, switching Wi-Fi on your Mac off and then on again, and restarting your router. If none of those work, check with your broadband provider whether there is a problem with their network. If you can load a web page in Safari, move on to the next step.

3. Check Apple’s System Status page

Apple has a status page on its website that lists all of its online services and shows you, using green or red lights, whether they are online. You can find it here.

Look for the ‘macOS Software Update’ status and check that the light is green. If not, the problem is on Apple’s side, and you will need to wait until it’s fixed.

4. Make sure there is an update available

If you think there should be an update available because you saw it posted online or you saw an update in the App Store, check the official source to make sure that there is an update for the version of macOS you are running.

5. Download the update manually

If nothing we’ve described so far works, and you’re running macOS Catalina or an older version, you may be able to find the most recent update on Apple’s website. Apple maintains links to some OS updates here. Use the search box on that page to search for the version of macOS you’re running and find out if there is an update available.

Alternatively, if you know the name of the macOS version you are trying to update to, you can go to the App Store and look for it there. Type the name of the macOS into the search bar and click Get. You will now download the installer. Double-click it to install the update. Note, though, that it will work for major updates only — for example, when you try to update from Ventura to Sonoma.

6. Fix issues on your Mac

If restarting your Mac doesn’t fix the problem, there could be a software conflict or other problem preventing it from identifying the update on Apple’s servers or from being able to install it.

One way to deal with this is to clear out junk files on your Mac that could be causing the problem. Another is to carry out maintenance on your Mac, such as freeing up RAM, running maintenance scripts, and repairing disk permissions — these are all things that will help your Mac run more smoothly in any case.

The easiest way to clear out junk files and run maintenance on your Mac is to use a handy tool called CleanMyMac X. It has the System Junk module that is designed specifically to clear out the files that are taking up space and possibly causing conflicts on your Mac. Its Maintenance module runs maintenance routines and helps optimize your Mac. You can download it for free here.

Free up Mac RAM with CleanMyMacX

7. Update the macOS in safe mode

The final tip is to try to update macOS in safe mode. It is a special mode that loads only the most important processes and system extensions. The process for booting into safe mode is different for Intel-based and Apple silicon Macs. 


  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Restart your Mac and press the Shift key.
  3. Release the Shift key after the login window shows up.

Apple silicon

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Press and hold the power button until the startup options window shows up.
  3. Select a startup disk.
  4. Press the Shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
  5. Release the Shift key.

Now, go to System Settings > General > Software update and check if there are updates available.

Most of the time, we don’t have to think about Software Update. It either runs in the background if it’s set to install updates automatically or sends a notification when a new update is available. But what do you do when that doesn’t happen, and it says there is no update available? Follow the steps above, and you should be able to fix the problem and download the latest macOS update.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.