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Yesterday morning I have turned on my 2016 year MacBook Pro (MacBookPro14,3) with touchbar, just to discover that it now shows the message that "A critical update must be installed to your Mac, yet the update cannot be installed, yet the Mac cannot be used till it will be installed", so what's now?

  • I have retried multiple times as the dialog suggests.
  • I booted into minimal mode by holding the left shift. It boots in this mode. In the App store I have, indeed, found a big update pending that "requires restart". I have updated all other apps but this was not helpful.
  • I tried to reset the operating system by booting with CMD+R, this way of booting worked but no attempts to reset were successful.
  • The Mac was running High Sierra. I have updated it to Big Sur from minimal mode, and even looks like I have succeeded. The error message now shows up in the differently looking dialog but it is still the same:

enter image description here

The message in App store about the important update that was visible under High Sierra is now gone. Under Big Sur, the updates tab is empty now.

Finder still shows over 500 Gb of free space remaining so this is not due simply running out of disk space. The diskutil list that remained accessible in safe mode shows the following output:

enter image description here

The Mac was bought in a normal store and worked flawlessly up to now. I have never opened it, never tried any major intrusions like disk partitioning and during the recent months in general was not doing anything serious with it. Apart from trashing the laptop, what are my other options now? Is the complete factory reset possible? Or would it run Linux maybe?

Apart from the advice how to fix the laptop, it would be very interesting to know what is the update here so critical that the computer cannot be used at all if it cannot be installed.

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  • I'd suspect the disk is too full. 1) How up to date is your backup? 2) Please post the results of diskutil list from Terminal, which you should be able to access from Recovery mode.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 1, 2021 at 7:07
  • I make regular backups of my work so there is no need to preserve the contents of the hard drive. I will check with diskutil when I am back from my work.
    – h22
    Sep 1, 2021 at 7:12
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    Also, a screenshot/picture of the message, and of the big update waiting in the Store, would help.
    – nohillside
    Sep 1, 2021 at 8:56
  • I have made photos of the error message and diskutil output, as requested.
    – h22
    Sep 1, 2021 at 20:06
  • I would take it to an Apple Store. They should be able to fix it. Smile sweetly and suggest that it was nothing you did that caused the problem, so Apple should fix it for free...!
    – benwiggy
    Sep 3, 2021 at 10:57

2 Answers 2

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A quick Google search of the error message makes it seem common to Macs with a T1 chip (like yours), particularly its firmware. There isn't really a clear solution though. You could try:

  • Internet recovery (Cmd+Opt+R at boot)
  • A bootable installer.
  • Disabling any firewalls through safe mode (Shift at boot), as they are said to cause issues by blocking an update from Apple
  • Getting the logic board replaced

As for running Linux, depending on what point in the boot process the error occurs, it might be possible.

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    I have made complete fresh re-install after wiping the whole hard drive. Still as soon as it gets the network, the system insists that a critical update exists and must be installed regardless that. It is probably the hardware issue with the T1 chip for that some security flaw has been discovered. As about Linux, it boots but wireless does not work.
    – h22
    Sep 3, 2021 at 6:36
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After finally bringing the laptop to the authorized Apple reseller, it was found this is the hardware issue. The logic board needs to be replaced. This part and work costs about the price of a new rather low end laptop; not yet the price of a new Macbook Pro.

I think it is really something about security chip of something the like, because the laptop still boots into safe mode with the most of functionality available but of course very inconvenient to use this way.

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  • Can you go back to High Sierra?
    – lhf
    Sep 17, 2021 at 12:58
  • No, clean install of Sierra was not helpful.
    – h22
    Sep 17, 2021 at 20:23

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