Fixing macOS Update Problems

Fixing macOS Update Problems

Understanding macOS Update Errors

As a seasoned tech enthusiast, I’ve encountered my fair share of macOS update problems over the years. Whether it’s a failed installation, a system freeze, or a mysterious error message, these issues can be incredibly frustrating for even the most experienced Apple users. However, with a bit of troubleshooting and some insider knowledge, I’ve learned that many of these problems can be resolved with relative ease.

One of the most common macOS update errors I’ve encountered is the dreaded “Update Failed” message. This can occur for a variety of reasons, from insufficient storage space to incompatible third-party software. In my experience, the first step in addressing this issue is to ensure that your Mac has enough available storage to accommodate the update. Typically, macOS updates require several gigabytes of free space, and if your hard drive or SSD is nearly full, the update process may fail. To free up space, I recommend deleting unnecessary files, emptying your trash, and potentially even offloading large media files to an external storage device.

Another potential cause of update failures is incompatible third-party software. Over the years, I’ve encountered numerous instances where a specific app or system extension has prevented a macOS update from installing successfully. To troubleshoot this, I suggest disabling any third-party software or system extensions that may be conflicting with the update process. You can do this by booting your Mac into Safe Mode and then attempting the update again. Alternatively, you can try uninstalling any suspicious third-party apps or utilities and then retrying the update.

Dealing with macOS Update Freezes

In addition to update failures, I’ve also encountered the frustrating problem of macOS updates getting stuck during the installation process. This can manifest as a frozen progress bar, a spinning beach ball, or even a complete system freeze. In these cases, the first thing I try is to simply let the update process run its course. Sometimes, a macOS update can take significantly longer than expected, and a little patience can go a long way. However, if the system remains unresponsive for an extended period, I’ll typically force a restart by holding down the power button.

If a forced restart doesn’t resolve the issue, I’ll often try booting into Recovery Mode and attempting to reinstall the macOS update from there. This can help bypass any potential conflicts or issues that may be preventing the update from completing successfully. In Recovery Mode, I can also run diagnostics, check the integrity of my startup disk, and potentially even restore the system from a previous backup.

One particularly frustrating macOS update problem I’ve encountered is the “Could not be verified” error message. This can occur when the update is unable to be authenticated or signed by Apple, often due to a corrupted or incomplete download. To address this, I typically start by checking my internet connection and ensuring that I’m downloading the update from an official Apple source. If the issue persists, I may try resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) or the NVRAM/PRAM on my Mac, as these steps can sometimes resolve issues with authentication and verification.

Preventing Future macOS Update Problems

Of course, the best way to deal with macOS update problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies to help ensure a smooth and successful update process. First and foremost, I always make sure to regularly back up my data, either to an external hard drive or to a cloud-based storage service like iCloud or Google Drive. This way, if the worst should happen and my system becomes unusable after an update, I can easily restore my files and settings.

I also make a habit of keeping my Mac’s software up-to-date, including both macOS and any third-party apps or utilities I have installed. By ensuring that my system is running the latest, most stable versions of all my software, I can minimize the risk of compatibility issues or conflicts that could derail a macOS update.

Additionally, I try to be proactive about monitoring my Mac’s storage space and overall system health. I use tools like Disk Utility and Activity Monitor to regularly check for any issues or potential bottlenecks that could impact the update process. If I notice that my storage is filling up or that my system is running particularly slowly, I’ll take steps to address those problems before attempting a macOS update.

Finally, I always make sure to follow Apple’s recommended update procedures to the letter. This includes things like closing any open apps or browser windows, disabling any third-party security or utility software, and ensuring that my Mac is plugged in and has a stable internet connection. By taking these precautions, I can greatly reduce the likelihood of encountering any update-related issues.

Real-World macOS Update Troubleshooting

Of course, despite all of these preventative measures, sometimes macOS update problems can still arise. When that happens, I’ve found that it’s important to remain calm and methodical in my approach to troubleshooting.

One case in point was when I recently helped a friend with a particularly stubborn macOS update issue. They had been attempting to install the latest version of macOS for several days, but the update kept failing with an error message indicating a problem with their startup disk. After some investigation, we determined that the issue was likely due to a corrupted system file or a malfunctioning hard drive.

To address the problem, we first tried booting into Recovery Mode and running a full disk check and repair using the Disk Utility tool. This helped us identify and resolve several minor issues with the file system, but the update still wouldn’t install successfully. Next, we turned to the Terminal application and ran a series of commands to verify the integrity of the core system files.

After a bit of trial and error, we discovered that one of the system files had become corrupted, likely due to a previous failed update attempt. To fix this, we used the “sudo /usr/local/bin/osascript -e ‘do shell script “sudo /usr/sbin/softwareupdate –installall –agree-to-license” with administrator privileges’ ” command to force a complete system reinstallation. This process took some time, but ultimately, it resolved the issue and allowed my friend to successfully update their MacBook to the latest version of macOS.

In another case, I assisted a colleague who was experiencing persistent freezes and crashes during the macOS update process. After ruling out any obvious hardware or software conflicts, we dug deeper and discovered that the issue was likely related to a corrupted system cache. To address this, we booted into Safe Mode and used the Terminal to run the “sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder” command, which effectively cleared the system’s DNS cache and related services.

This simple step resolved the issue, and my colleague was able to complete the macOS update without any further problems. In both of these cases, the key was to approach the troubleshooting process with a methodical, step-by-step approach, leveraging the various tools and resources available within the macOS ecosystem.


In conclusion, dealing with macOS update problems can be a frustrating experience, but with the right troubleshooting skills and a bit of patience, I’ve found that most issues can be resolved relatively easily. By understanding the common causes of update failures and freezes, following best practices for update preparation, and being willing to dive deep into the system’s inner workings when necessary, I’ve been able to help countless users overcome their macOS update woes.

Ultimately, the key is to remain calm, methodical, and persistent in your troubleshooting efforts. With a bit of trial and error, and a willingness to explore the various tools and resources available within the macOS ecosystem, I’m confident that even the most stubborn update problems can be resolved. So the next time you encounter a macOS update issue, don’t despair – just roll up your sleeves and get to work!