I'd like my Mac OS X machine to automatically install updates for any software where it can, with no interaction from me.

System updates, updates to applications, security patches -- I want them all. I'd prefer to not have to do anything. I'd like the machine to simply download and install them in the background, automatically, without requiring me to click anything, approve anything, or take any further action.

Is there a way to do it, on Mountain Lion?

2 Answers 2


OS X has some support for automatically installing updates, but it's limited to "system data files and security updates" - what exactly constitute system data files, I'm not sure, but presumably any drivers that are typically distributed through Software Update, but possibly OS X point updates as well. Apple's documentation isn't clear on this.

You can enable this in the Software Update pane of System Preferences:

Software Update Preferences

However this won't update any apps, and possibly not all OS X updates either (again, Apple's documentation isn't very clear on what counts as a "system data file").

The other solution you may be interested in is AppFresh, which claims to be a one-stop shop for all software updates, OS X or 3rd party. I haven't used it, but it seems to be able to integrate with and automatically install from Software Update (and they list Mountain Lion compatibility, so I'm assuming that includes updates through the App Store now), apps that use the fairly popular Sparkle updater, as well as Microsoft and Adobe updaters.

AppFresh screenshot

  • Software Update does update apps, but only those from the App Store.
    – duci9y
    Aug 5, 2012 at 6:05
  • Yes, but the automatic updates only apply to OS security updates and the nebulous system data files.
    – robmathers
    Aug 5, 2012 at 15:42
  • No. I just clicked on a notification which said that updates were available for my Mac. It opened App Store, which then started installing updates to 3 of my apps. It had already downloaded them.
    – duci9y
    Aug 5, 2012 at 15:51
  • Yes, the notifications are different than that Install system data files and security updates checkbox. With that enabled you won't get any notifications, it will just update in the background, without having to click anything.
    – robmathers
    Aug 5, 2012 at 15:54
  • Okay. I get it. No one can confirm it though, as we haven’t had any system update yet.
    – duci9y
    Aug 5, 2012 at 16:01

All system updates and updates to apps from the Mac App Store are downloaded automatically. When they have finished downloading, a notification alert pops up, saying so. You just have to click on “Update” on that alert, and the update starts in the background.

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