Some of my coworkers receive updates to Xcode through the regular software update mechanism in OSX. I however have always had to manually download it from Apple and install it myself.

What's the difference between us? Neither I nor they know why. How can I get Software Update to recognize Xcode?

Also, I understand that Xcode 4 is available from the App Store and that will (or at least should) be updated. That's not the point. I want Xcode <4 to be updated via Software Update.

  • 1
    What version of OS X are they and you using? As well as what version of Xcode are they and you running, how did they get Xcode initially and you?
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 21:51

4 Answers 4


Edited to add

Based on the comments on this answer, it appears that Xcode updates via the system Software Update were delayed, appearing quite a bit after they became available for manual download from the developer portal.

It may even be that Apple fits them into times when their network usage was low, which could delay an update even if you clear out your old copy and reinstall the not-quite-up-to-date version. Perhaps the update would appear if you waited several days.

Previous answer

Xcode has never, ever updated for me through Software Update, and it's never updated for the dozen or so developers I work with. The Apple employees that I follow on Twitter -- guys like Jake Behrens, Michael Jurewitz (the dev tools evangelist), Chris Hanson, and Bill Bumgarner -- along with former Apple employees who are devs and other high-profile devs I follow, all tweet something along the lines of, "hey devs, time to visit the developer portal to download the new version of Xcode" when an update comes out.

Are you absolutely certain Xcode updates are arriving automatically for your coworkers? Have you seen it happen? Are you sure they're not pulling your leg? I've certainly never heard of it and consistently hear the opposite, so it sure seems unlikely to me.

The only automatic Xcode updating I'm aware of for Xcode 4, and only then if it was purchased through the Mac App Store and not downloaded from the portal, and only then if you launch the App Store and click on the update, which really isn't very automatic.

  • I personally have a dev account, so I have to download each time. I have heard that some people (with 3.x Xcode) did have it update before...but I have never had it happen. Also, with 4.x, even through the App Store you download the whole thing again versus just an update I have heard.
    – jmlumpkin
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 12:09
  • when I had Xcode 3, I can confirm that I could sometimes update through Apple's update. But I don't think the update is available right away through there. There might be a few weeks delay. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 12:35
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    @Loic Interesting. Perhaps I and those I know have always updated manually before Software Update got around to it. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 12:55
  • That's probably it. I wasn't an heavy Xcode user, so I didn't take that much interest in Xcode releases. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 13:04

If Software Updater is not picking up your Xcode installation, that would suggest your Xcode installation plist is possibly corrupted. Did you do the proper

sudo <Xcode>/Library/uninstall-devtools --mode=...

command to properly uninstall Xcode before installing the newer Xcode4 GM?

I've seen the problem you're reporting when my students "stacked" the install, i.e. install Xcode3 on top of a previous Xcode3 without uninstalling the older Xcode first.

Hope this helps.

  • Xcode 4 detects Xcode 3 and renames Development folder to Development-old I don't think it's possible to "stack" them, as you can have both at the same time. Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 5:44
  • Martin, you're correct. I should have made clear that it was "stacking" of Xcode 3 installs. I've amended my answer for clarity. Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 6:15
  • I do have stacked installs. I'll try doing the full uninstall and see what I get. If this works I'll accept this answer.
    – bahamat
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 18:22
  • Bahamat, please ensure that you use the sudo uninstall for the last Xcode version you installed. Best way I can explain is imagine your Xcode installs are in a stack, you have to pop the stack in the reverse order you pushed (aka installed). Stacked installs are a pain to deal with. Good luck. There is an alternative (which involves "surgical" removal using rm -r of a few folders, but having been there, I'd rather not go there again. 8) Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 6:04
  • @global nomad: well this didn't work for me. I ran the uninstaller with sudo and mode all, rebooted and reinstalled xcode 3.2.3, but Software Update still doesn't recognize it.
    – bahamat
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 19:40

I just tried to update to Xcode 4.2 and was told no updates were available.

I then noticed I had 'Install xcode' as an /Application and after deleting this, I could then install the update by clicking Install in the AppStore in Lion.

What a pain!


I've been told that this was because the co-workers installed with all the default options. I had changed some options during the install.

Either way, ever since Lion Xcode has been distributed via the App Store so it's moot.

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