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I have a mac mini running Big Sur. My password is fine for logging in at start up and authorising everything, except the system software update. I haven't found an answer online as to why. Anybody got any suggestions and hopefully, a solution.

  • How about changing passwords, with passwd command or from System Preferences? – Hein Thanth Feb 13 at 14:34
  • I’m having some odd update issues on my M1 Big Sur Mac, I wonder if there are temporary catalog issues with Apple and even people with working processes and systems are caught in an issue where the software isn’t surfacing a server side issue... – bmike Feb 13 at 16:38

This will be a little tricky to pick apart remotely. Your edits are super helpful to come up with next steps.

I would use the command line and try this in the terminal app.

sudo softwareupdate --all --install

You will be prompted to enter your password and if that accepts your password and starts to download and install the updates, you know it’s just a GUI account issue.

If you don’t like the command line, another path is to make a second admin user and log out of the problem user (Apple menu - log out) and then try the update from the second account. Either way, you can reduce the potential causes and maybe get your update done, too.

I get the same prompt, but it works for me today when yesterday I got password errors and I changed nothing. I have Apple Silicon on my Big Sur mini so ymmv.


This has been documented by Apple here.

Do an SMC reset.

  • Woah! That’s an odd article. I would expect an entirely different prompt from system prefs than shown, but it’s a great call and if it works, super catch and article link. The OP says their password works for everything else, but maybe they didn’t try an unlock first? – bmike Feb 14 at 0:19
  • It's a T2-ism. A non-T2 Mac doesn't exhibit the problem. – Marc Wilson Feb 14 at 0:26
  • It’s possible the mini in question is Intel + T2 – bmike Feb 14 at 0:53

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