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How to enable automatic app updates on MacOS

If you find yourself forgetting to manually approve the application update on your MacOS device, there's a simple way to automate the process.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer

With MacOS you can easily enable automatic updates for apps. You can also automate the process of OS updates but I shy away from enabling that because I'd rather not get Windows'd.

NurPhoto/Getty Images

I regularly check for and apply updates. It's one of the first things I do, each morning, on my Linux desktop. But with my MacBook Pro and iMac, I often forget to check. The next thing I know there are 5 or 6 pending updates that I have to apply.

I'm not a fan of that process. Why? Because every update might bring with it a crucial bug fix or patch for a security vulnerability. As well, it might add new and exciting features to the app. For those reasons, I try to be diligent about updates.

But for some reason, I have a mental block with those MacOS machines. 

Also: The best and newest Macs compared

Fortunately, there's an easy solution for that in the form of automatic updates. With MacOS you can easily enable automatic updates for apps. You can also automate the process of OS updates but I shy away from enabling that because I'd rather not get Windows'd and have the operating system randomly reboot on me when I'm in the middle of something. To that end, I also regularly check for OS updates.

But for the app updates, I don't mind if they happen automatically. The only caveat is that you might, every so often, be warned (out of the blue) that you must close an app before the update can continue.

It's worth the hassle.

Let me show you how it's done.

Enabling automatic app updates

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need for this is an Apple device running an updated version of MacOS. I'll demonstrate the process on a MacBook Pro running MacOS Ventura 13.4.1.

1. Open System Settings

Click the Apple button in the top left of your desktop. From that menu, click System Settings. 

The MacOS Ventura Apple Menu.

Accessing System Settings from the Apple button in the Menu Bar.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Go to Software Updates

Within System Settings, click General and then click Software Update.

The MacOS System Settings window.

The MacOS System Settings tool gives you access to quite a lot of options.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: How to get true window snapping in MacOS

3. Open Automatic Updates popup

In the Software Update section, locate and click the ⓘ (circled i) near the top right corner.

The MacOS Software Updates section of System Settings.

Access to the software updates option is hidden in plain sight.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Enable automatic app updates

In the resulting popup, click the On/Off slider for Install application update from the App Store. Once you've enabled that, click Done and then close System Settings.

The MacOS Automatic update configuration popup.

You can enable/disable any of these options.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: 4 ways Windows people get MacOS wrong

You're all set. Now, application updates will happen automatically, so you don't have to worry about manually going through the process. Just remember, if you see a warning that an app must be closed before the update can continue, save your work, close the app, and allow the update to complete before re-opening the app.

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