When you update your macOS, you may find the process is not smooth. If your Mac won’t update, you will ask: why can’t I update my Mac? Now, MiniTool Software will show you different symptoms, reasons, solutions. Besides, it also introduces a Mac file recovery tool to rescue your Mac files when needed.

Mac Won’t Update: Symptoms and Reasons

When you want to update your Mac to the latest version, you may find that you can’t update it successfully. Then, you will ask: why can’t I update my Mac or why won’t my Mac update?

This is not a rare issue. Many Mac users are facing the same problem as you. But the specific situations are various. Here we will show you some common symptoms and reasons.

Situation 1: A Critical Software Update Is Required for Your Mac


In most cases, you just find you can’t update your macOS when it’s time to boot your Mac. Your Mac doesn’t boot up normally, with an error message saying A critical software update is required for your Mac, but an error was encountered while installing this update. Your Mac can’t be used until this update is installed.

a critical software update is required for your mac


The macOS process is not finished. You still need to wait patiently until the whole process ends. However, if you still can’t update macOS after Max reboot, you need to think about other possibilities like disk errors, macOS update interruptions, etc.

Situation 2: You Need to Restart Your Computer


During the macOS update process, your Mac can also boot into an interface with error messages of four or five languages: You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button for several seconds, or press the Restart button.

You need to restart your computer


There are likely some temporary errors on your Mac. You need to restart your Mac to remove these errors.

Situation 3: macOS could not be installed on your computer


Another phenomenon is that you can’t install the new macOS on your computer and only receive an error message saying macOS could not be installed on your computer.

macOS could not be installed on your computer


The following message just shows you the reason: a certain path is missing or damaged. You need to quit the installer and then restart your Mac to try to update your Mac again.

Situation 4: The macOS Installation Couldn’t Be Completed


The macOS installation couldn’t be completed is another common situation that happens during the macOS update process. It just stops you from installing the macOS successfully. The following screenshot is a real example from Reddit.

The OS X installation couldn’t be completed


When the macOS installation is interrupted unexpectedly, this situation can easily happen. Such situations include power failure, battery dead, and computer force shutdown. Of course, there are also some other causes like the installer is corrupted, the system disk crashed, and more.

Situation 5: There Is Not Enough Free Disk Space


When you select a disk to install macOS, a prompt shows that There is not enough free space on the selected volume to upgrade the OS. An additional **** GB is required.

there is not enough free disk space for macOS update


When you want to upgrade macOS, you need to make sure that there is enough free space on the disk. Otherwise, Mac will not update successfully.

First, you can go to check how much available disk space on your Mac: click the Apple menu and then go to About This Mac > Storage to have a look. If the available space is not enough, you need to take some measures to free up disk space. This post shows you some methods: How to Clear Disk Space on Mac and Recover Mac Data?

Next, you should update your Mac successfully.

Situation 6: Your Mac Is Unbootable or Crashed


In some cases, after the macOS update, your Mac computer just crashes or you can’t boot it as usual. For example, your Mac boot into a black screen, or a white screen, or a gray screen. Even sometimes, it won’t turn on.


Such a situation usually means that your boot disk encounter issues. You need to repair it. However, if the disk is physically damaged, you will need to replace it with a new one.

Of course, there are also some other situations like Update Not Found, Installation failed An error occurred while installing the selected updates, macOS update stuck for a long time, etc. We will not list all of them here.

Why can’t I update my Mac? This post shows some common causes. You can look here to check whether you can find your situation.Click to Tweet

You can see that most of the error messages remind you to restart your Mac to get rid of the issue. However, this method may not work for you. If so, you can also try the solutions we will introduce in the following part.

Why Rebooting a Computer Fixes Problems? Answers Are Here

What Can I Do If My Mac Won’t Update

Solution 1: Use Safe Mode

Booting your Mac into Safe Mode can check whether your Mac issue is caused by software that loads as your Mac starts up. It can also solve some errors on your Mac. You can even update your Mac in Safe Mode.

If you are using an Intel-based Mac, you can follow this guide to enter Safe Mode:

  1. Shut down or force shut down your Mac.
  2. About 10 seconds later, you can press the Power button and immediately press & hold the Shift key.
  3. When you see the login window, you can release the Shift key.

If you are using a Mac with Apple silicon, you can follow this guide to enter Safe Mode:

  1. Shut down or force shut down your Mac.
  2. About 10 seconds later, you can press & hold the Power button until you see the startup disks and Options.
  3. Press and hold the Shift key, and then click Continue in Safe Mode.

After entering Safe Mode, you can update macOS again.

Solution 2: Reinstall macOS in Recovery Mode

You can also reinstall macOS in Recovery Mode. During the whole process, you need to make sure the network connection is enabled and works smoothly.

  1. Shut down your computer completely.
  2. Press the Power button, and immediately press & hold the Command and R keys.
  3. Release the keys when you see the Apple logo.
  4. Type your password if prompt.
  5. You will enter the macOS Utilities. Next, click Reinstall macOS and follow the guide to reinstall macOS.

Solution 3: Update Your macOS Properly

Why can’t I update my Mac? Another possibility is that you don’t update macOS properly. Some of you may ask: well, how to update my macOS?

Here, you need to know that during the macOS update process, the network connection must be enabled and works normally. Then, you can follow this guide to update your macOS:

  1. Click the Apple menu and then select System Preferences.
  2. Click Software Update to check for updates on your Mac.
  3. If your computer finds available updates, you can click the Update Now button to install them. If the Software Update interface shows that your Mac is up to date, the installed macOS version on your Max is the latest.

Solution 4: Repair/Replace the Damaged Mac Disk

If all of the above solutions can’t help you solve the issue of Mac won’t update, there should be something wrong with your Mac disk.

In a situation like this, you can first use Disk Utility to repair your Mac disk. You can refer to this post to do the job: How to Use Disk Utility on Mac | Partition/Repair/Restore Drive? If your Mac can’t boot normally, you can enter the Recovery Mode and then select Disk Utility to repair your Mac disk.

However, if the Mac disk can’t be repaired, you need to replace it with a new one. Since there are many important files on the disk, you may need to rescue these files if the disk is inaccessible and there are no available backup files.

You can use professional Mac data recovery software to recover your Mac files. You can use Stellar Data Recovery for Mac.

Step 1: Recover Your Mac Files

Stellar Data Recovery for Mac is specially designed to recover files on a Mac computer. It has a trial edition. You can use it to scan the drive you want to recover data from. Then, you can check the scan results and find your needed files. If you want to use this software to recover all your needed files, you can use a full edition.

You can get this software from MiniTool’s official download center.

How to use this software to restore your Mac files? Here is a guide:

1. Download and install this software on your Mac, and then open it.

2. Select the data type(s) you want to recover and click Next to continue.

select data types to continue

3. When you see the following interface, you need to select the drive you want to scan and click Scan to start the scanning process. Besides, if you want to perform a deep scan, you need to turn on the button for Deep Scan (on the left bottom side) on this interface before scanning.

select the target drive to scan

4. After scanning, you can see the scan results. If this software can find your needed files, you can upgrade it to an advanced edition and recover all files without limits. Here, you should save files to a drive that can work normally.

scan results

Moreover, there is another possibility: your Mac is unbootable. In a situation like this, if you want to recover your Mac files, you can use Stellar Data Recovery Bootable Edition.

You need to use the professional edition or more advanced edition of this software to create such an edition. Then, you can set your Mac to boot from this software and use it to recover your Mac files to a suitable location.

Step 2: Reinstall macOS

Now, you can feel free to reinstall macOS on the new drive. Apple has an official post that shows you how to reinstall macOS: How to reinstall macOS?

These are the solutions to solve the Mac won’t update issue. We hope they can help you solve your issue.

Bottom Line

Why can’t I update my Mac? After reading this post, you should know the answer. Besides, you also know how to fix this issue using different methods.

Should you have any related issues, you can let us know in the comment. You can also contact us via [email protected].

Why Can’t I Update My Mac FAQ

Why can’t I find Software Update on my Mac?
If you are using macOS 10.13 or an even earlier version, you will not see the Software Update option in System Preference. You need to go to the Mac App Store to download and install the latest macOS.
How to force shut down a Mac computer?
You can press and hold the Power button on your Mac to force shut it down.
Is my Mac obsolete?
If your Mac runs slow and it has been discontinued 7 years or more years ago, your Mac should be obsolete.
How to check for software updates on Mac automatically?
You can click the Apple menu and go to System Preferences > Software Update. To enable automatic macOS updates, you need to check the Automatically keep my Mac up to date option.
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