I am trying to update my mac OS software to the latest version (10.12.6) from my current version (10.12.4) and unfortunately the app store 'updates' section freezes for me and I can't update it from there. I found another solution, which was to use the terminal to install the update. The problem is that when I type "softwareupdate -l" it returns nothing (I'm aware that this specific command won't actually install it). Not that it doesn't find updates, it's as if it won't stop searching.

Last login: Thu Nov 2 18:48:50 on ttys000
User ~ $ softwareupdate -list
Software Update Tool
Copyright 2002-2015 Apple Inc.
Finding available software

Any help would be appreciated!

3 Answers 3


I guess updating OS X via command line requires sudo

sudo softwareupdate -i -r
  • 2
    I don't think so, I had already tried that with the exact same result Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 0:14
  • Try booting in Rescue mode and try repairing volume and system permission. Also check you logs (Applications > Utilities > Konsole). Do you see any errors while opening the AppStore update section?
    – user136834
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 0:22

Do you have a custom software update server set? See Reset OS X Software Update server for info on how to check & if necessary reset it.

Another option is to bypass the update server system by downloading and installing the update manually. You can find updates at support.apple.com/downloads; the specific one you need is the macOS Sierra 10.12.6 Combo Update

(Note: the 12.12.6 Combo update should not be confused with the "macOS Sierra 10.12.6 Update" -- the non-combo or "delta" version requires that you already be up to 10.12.5. You're running 10.12.4, so you need the combo update.)


This is an old question, but since I burned-up half a morning and most of an afternoon sussing-out a workaround (& a follow-up path to resolve my configuration issue(s)), I figured I'd post what worked for me...

I found that booting into Safe Mode did the trick:

  1. Restart the Mac and hold down the Shift key until prompted for User ID and Password to login

  2. Open a Terminal and run the Software Update Tool

    $ softwareupdate -list

  3. If this returns with some updates, they can be installed in this Terminal session.

  4. Once any updates have been applied, restart the Mac to resume working as before (i.e., if the updates didn't require a restart).

The next thing to consider would be curating your list of Login & Startup items so that the Software Update Tool works without having to boot-up in Safe Mode.


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