So I've discovered there are a number of things to be kept up to date in OS X:

  • built-in Software Update, obviously
  • Individual programs, which typically check for updates automatically and the 'update' option can usually be found under the program's menu (to the right of the Apple menu in the menu bar).
  • Gem, which comes preinstalled in OS X (correct me if I'm wrong), should be periodically updated with sudo gem update --system and then the gems updated with sudo gem update - see Greg's answer for why you should not update Ruby.
  • MacPorts, if installed, should be periodically updated with sudo port selfupdate and then sudo port upgrade outdated

Are there any other update processes I'm missing? I've only been using OS X for a few weeks so I want to make sure to keep everything up to date in my system and already I feel like most Mac users don't even know about all of the above (especially the Gem update command).

Am I somehow wrong in thinking I need to do all of the above?

  • Soon (Jan 6th at least in the US), the new Mac App store also opens, which would help with a lot of app updates that are bought through the store. – jmlumpkin Dec 22 '10 at 13:21
  • This seems like an odd question to ask. I could post the contents of ls -d /Applications/*.app" to answer it. Though I admit, the note about ruby is good food for thought. – Jason Salaz Dec 22 '10 at 23:55

It might be good to not upgrade the system Ruby installed by Apple. Apple installs /usr/lib/podcastproducer, which uses that Ruby, and changing the files could cause it to break if there are version sensitive gems being referenced. In addition, other developers can write code knowing the Ruby is there.

Use locate *.rb | grep ^/usr | xargs grep require for a file list and the requires.

I prefer to install a new Ruby, either in /usr/local/bin, or by using RVM to install into a sandbox in ~/.rvm and leave my system version alone.

Similarly, Apple's Python and Perl installations are also used by some apps. There's a reason the languages are on there and it's not entirely for our convenience.

  • Hmm interesting. And, might I add, too late in my case... I guess I'll just hope for the best. I edited my question to cross out the gem update step. – Ricket Dec 22 '10 at 7:14
  • This is a very interesting point to think about. Can I upvote you like, 10 times? – Jason Salaz Dec 22 '10 at 23:57
  • 1
    It's one of those things that a lot of people don't think about. You'll see a lot of people say to go ahead and update the system languages, but I've seen what it can do. Flakey, weird stuff happens that are really hard to explain or diagnose. So, now I just leave it alone and go mess around in my own RVM created sandbox. At a minimum I'd recommend installing from source into /usr/local/ or via one of the *port package managers. It just feels safer. – Greg Dec 23 '10 at 1:04

fink if you use that instead of macports.

fink selfupdate && fink update-all

Like I said in another answer, you can update all your applications at once using AppFresh. It can even check your updates from Appl for you.


Wait until January 6th, the new Mac App Store that will be opened for Mac OS X will also support the same auto upgrade feature for all product installed like the App Store for iPhone and iPad, so everything will be updated at the same time.

Meanwhile AppFresh works like a charm.

  • No auto update in the App Store – user151019 Jan 24 '11 at 22:33

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