What do I do if my Mac is stuck updating?

If your Mac gets stuck while trying to install a software update, don’t panic. This problem is actually quite common and can often be easily fixed. Here are some quick troubleshooting steps to try if your Mac is stuck on the update progress bar:

Force Quit the Installer

The first thing to try is force quitting the installer app that is stuck. To do this:

  1. Press Command + Option + Esc to open the Force Quit menu
  2. Select the installer app from the list (it will likely be called “Installer” or have the name of the update)
  3. Click Force Quit to force the app to close

This will terminate the update process that has gotten stuck. Then you can try checking for updates again or restarting your Mac.

Restart Your Mac

If force quitting the installer didn’t help, the next step is to restart your Mac. A simple restart can often resolve update issues and allow the update to continue installing correctly after the restart.

To restart your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu
  2. Select Restart

After your Mac reboots, check for the update again. In many cases, the stuck update will resume installing where it left off.


Resetting the NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) can help clear out any glitches that may be causing update problems. To reset the NVRAM on your Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac
  2. Turn it back on and immediately press and hold Command + Option + P + R
  3. Keep holding down those keys until you hear the startup chime repeat a second time
  4. Release the keys and let your Mac finish booting up

Now restart your Mac normally again and test if the stuck update will install. Resetting NVRAM resets various settings that could be causing issues.

Uninstall Problematic Updates

If you find that a particular update always seems to get stuck when installing, you can try uninstalling that update. To uninstall an update:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Software Update
  2. Click the Update Details button
  3. Select the update causing problems
  4. Click Delete Update
  5. Enter your admin password to confirm
  6. Restart your Mac

After uninstalling the problematic update, check for updates again. Your Mac will then download and install a fresh copy of that update, which may avoid getting stuck.

Use Safe Mode

Booting into Safe Mode can help isolate issues that may be interfering with installation of an update. To use Safe Mode:

  1. Fully shut down your Mac
  2. Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key
  3. Keep holding Shift until you see the login screen (Safe Mode will appear in red text at the top)
  4. Let go of Shift and enter your admin password to log in

Now install the stuck update while in Safe Mode. If it installs successfully, the problem may be related to login items or other software on your Mac. Restart normally again and test if the update now installs without getting stuck.

Create a New Admin User

If you still can’t install the update, try creating a brand new admin user account on your Mac. This will test whether the update issue is limited to your user account or is system-wide. To add a new admin user:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups
  2. Click the lock and enter your admin password
  3. Click the + button below the user list
  4. Select Administrator and click Create User

Log out and log in to this new account. Then check for updates. If the update can install successfully for the new user, the issue is isolated to your original user account’s settings or files.

Check for Conflicting Apps

In some cases, third party apps or services may be interfering with the update process. Check for any antivirus software, virtualization software, VPN clients or other apps that may conflict with the installer. Try disabling or uninstalling those and then attempt the update again.

Contact Apple Support

If you still can’t get the update to install after trying all these steps, it’s time to contact Apple. There may be a deeper issue at play. You can contact Apple support by:

  • Booking a Genius Bar appointment at an Apple Store
  • Calling 1-800-275-2273
  • Starting a support chat at getsupport.apple.com

Apple’s support team can help troubleshoot further and hopefully resolve the stuck update issue.

Back Up and Try macOS Recovery

As a last resort, you may need to reinstall macOS to get past the stuck update. Be sure to fully back up your Mac first using Time Machine.

Then you can boot into macOS Recovery to reinstall the OS:

  1. Restart your Mac and hold down Command + R until you see the recovery screen
  2. Select Reinstall macOS from the utilities window
  3. Follow the onscreen prompts to reinstall the latest macOS

After it finishes, you can restore your data from the backup. This should hopefully resolve any underlying issues that were preventing updates from installing correctly.


Stuck Mac updates are common but often fixable. Try force quitting the installer, resetting NVRAM, creating a new user or reinstalling macOS as needed. Contact Apple if issues persist. With some diligent troubleshooting, you can get your Mac updates back on track.

Summary of Troubleshooting Steps

Step Instructions
Force Quit Installer Use Command + Option + Esc to force quit the stuck installer app
Restart Mac Reboot your Mac to restart the update process
Reset NVRAM Reset NVRAM by holding Command + Option + P + R while rebooting
Uninstall Problematic Updates Delete problematic updates in System Preferences > Software Update
Safe Mode Restart into Safe Mode and test update installation
New Admin User Create a new admin user account to test the update
Check for App Conflicts Disable or remove antivirus, VPNs, virtualization or other conflicting apps
Contact Apple Support Get help directly from Apple via phone, chat or Genius Bar
macOS Recovery Backup and reinstall macOS as a last resort