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Terminal Tips: Install software updates from the command line

Cory Bohon

Sure, you could update your Apple software by opening Software Update from the Apple menu. But what if you're inclined to use a command line interface, or maybe you need to update a remote machine via SSH? There's a way to complete a software update in Here's how.

If you want to do an automatic install of all the updates for your particular Mac, first log in as an administrative user. Then open (located in /Applications/Utilities), and type (or copy/paste) the following command:
sudo softwareupdate -i -a

and hit Return. Next, you'll be prompted to enter your password; do so, and then hit Return. The application will then look for available updates, download them, and then install them. You will see the progress in Terminal. If no updates are available, Terminal will let you know.

This command replicates the functionality of the normal Software Update utility. However, you can use it on other machines in the background via SSH remote login, or you could apply a specific update rather than the full list of available patches. To see all the command options, type man softwareupdate at the Terminal prompt.

Want more tips and tricks like this? Visit TUAW's Terminal Tips section!

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