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Check and Install Mac OS X Software Updates from the Terminal

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You can check for available updates, ignore packages, and install any or all Mac OS X Software Updates directly from the command line.

To see what updates are available, or to install a software update from the Terminal of OS X, you’ll use the ‘softwareupdate’ command as we’ll instruct in this post.

Check and Install Mac OS X Software Updates from the Terminal

To get a list of available software updates, type the following command:

softwareupdate -l

You will see a list of available updates.


Installing All Available Updates from Terminal

You can then install all available software updates with the following command:

sudo softwareupdate -iva

The use of sudo is required to get superuser privileges to actually install the updates.

Install Recommended Updates Only from Terminal in OS X

You can also install only the recommended updates with:

sudo softwareupdate -irv

Installing & Ignoring Specific Software Updates to Mac from Terminal of OS X

Or you can just install specific software updates by specifying the shorthand package name from the previous list, like so:

sudo softwareupdate -i iPhoneConfigurationUtility-3.2

If there are any updates you want to ignore, you can do so with the –ignore flag, for example:

sudo softwareupdate --ignore iWeb3.0.2-3.0.2

If you want to see all the available command line shortcuts for Software Update, just type:

softwareupdate -h

This is really useful for remotely updating Macs, setting up automated updates via a bash script, or if you just want to geek out.

This tool is available in all versions of OS X and therefore it can be used to update just about any Mac with necessary software updates.

This is one way to avoid using the Mac App Store to update a Mac if that is necessary for whatever reason.

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