Why can’t my Macbook Air check for updates?

If your MacBook Air is unable to check for software updates, there are a few potential causes and solutions you can try. In this comprehensive 5000 word guide, we’ll walk through the most common reasons why MacBook Air can’t check for updates and the steps you can take to fix the issue.

Quick Overview of the Issue

When your MacBook Air won’t check for updates, it’s often due to an underlying network, software, or server issue that’s preventing your computer from connecting to Apple’s update servers. Here are some of the most common causes of this problem:

  • Your internet connection is down or your network settings are misconfigured
  • The Mac App Store is not working properly
  • Your time/date settings are inaccurate
  • There are problems with Apple’s update servers
  • Software bugs or conflicts are preventing updates from being checked/installed

We’ll cover each of these issues in-depth throughout this guide. The good news is that most causes can be resolved with basic troubleshooting, software updates, and configuration changes on your end. There are also a few handy built-in tools in macOS that can help get your update process back on track.

Step 1: Check Your Internet Connection

First, you’ll want to check that your MacBook Air is actually connected to the internet and able to reach Apple’s update servers. Here are a few things to verify:

  • Connect your MacBook Air directly to your router/modem with an Ethernet cable. Does this allow updates to be checked? If so, you may have a WiFi connectivity issue.
  • Make sure WiFi is turned on in the top menu bar. Toggle WiFi off and on.
  • Click the WiFi icon in the menu bar and make sure you’re connected to the correct network.
  • Double check that your router, modem, and internet connection are working properly.
  • Test your connection by opening a browser and loading a website. Can you access the internet? If not, there’s a network outage or ISP issue.
  • Restart your router/modem and MacBook Air. Power cycles can clear up network conflicts.
  • Forget your WiFi network on your Mac then reconnect to it.

If you have access to the internet but the Mac App Store and Software Update still aren’t working, move on to the next steps. A network issue is likely not the cause.

Step 2: Check Mac App Store Connectivity

The Mac App Store handles checking, downloading, and installing software updates on your MacBook Air. So if it’s not functioning properly, your update check could fail or get stuck. Here are some App Store troubleshooting tips:

  • Launch the App Store application. Is it opening properly? Try quitting and relaunching the app.
  • Does the App Store load but seem slow/glitchy? Force quit and restart.
  • Check for App Store software updates and install any available updates.
  • Can you download/update apps through the App Store? If updates stall, the issue may be on Apple’s side.
  • Click the Account menu and sign out, then sign back in.
  • Reboot your MacBook Air and try the App Store again after restarting.
  • Reset the NVRAM and SMC to resolve potential software/hardware issues.
  • Delete App Store cache/data:
    1. Quit App Store
    2. Open Finder and press Shift+Command+G
    3. Copy/paste this path: ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.appstore
    4. Select all files and delete

This will refresh the App Store’s data and communications with Apple’s servers. If the App Store starts working properly again, great! If not, you can try the next troubleshooting steps.

Step 3: Check Date & Time Settings

Inaccurate date and time settings can sometimes prevent your MacBook Air from connecting to update servers. Follow these tips:

  • Click the Time icon in the menu bar and make sure “Set date and time automatically” is checked.
  • If automatic settings are disabled, manually set the date/time to match your time zone.
  • Check if the time is off by several hours or stuck on a past date. This can definitely cause issues.
  • Go to System Preferences > Date & Time and confirm settings are correct.
  • Set the time zone to match your geographic location.
  • Check the Network Time tab and make sure your Mac can reach a working time server.

Once the correct date and time are set, try checking for updates again. If they’re still not working, continue on to the next recommendations.

Step 4: Check Apple System Status

Sometimes the issue may actually lie with Apple’s servers. To check for any service outages or disruptions, you can visit Apple’s System Status page at https://www.apple.com/support/systemstatus/. This will let you know if iCloud, App Store, Software Update, or other Apple services are down or degraded.

If Apple is experiencing a widespread outage, there’s unfortunately not much you can do besides wait it out. Be sure to keep an eye on the System Status page for updates on any resolutions. Some outages are resolved within hours, while others can persist for days. If services appear to be up and running normally, proceed with further troubleshooting steps on your MacBook Air.

Step 5: Check for Software Conflicts

Software bugs, corrupted files, or application conflicts can sometimes interfere with the software update process on Macs. Here are a few things to check for:

  • Restart your MacBook Air and check for updates immediately after rebooting. This clears out any memory issues.
  • Try disabling your firewall and security software temporarily to rule out any conflicts.
  • Boot into Safe Mode and see if updates can be checked normally. This loads a minimal macOS without third-party apps/services.
  • Create a new test user account and check for updates while logged in to that account.
  • Check for macOS installer issues:
    1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal
    2. Run sudo rm -rf /Library/Updates
    3. Run sudo rm -rf /Library/Receipts
    4. Restart Mac and try updates again
  • Reset NVRAM and SMC again to resolve potential low-level system problems.

If checking for updates starts working after one of these steps, you can narrow down the problematic software/conflict and reinstall/reconfigure it if needed.

Step 6: Erase and Reinstall macOS

If you still can’t get your MacBook Air to check for updates after trying everything, it may be time for a more aggressive fix – a full macOS reinstallation. Here’s how to erase and reinstall a fresh copy of macOS using Recovery mode:

  1. Back up your MacBook Air to an external drive
  2. Restart your computer and hold Command+R during boot to enter Recovery mode
  3. Select Disk Utility and click Continue
  4. Choose your startup disk and click Erase in the toolbar
  5. Complete the erase process, then quit Disk Utility
  6. Finally, choose Reinstall macOS from the Recovery menu and follow the onscreen prompts

This will wipe your MacBook Air and install a clean, new copy of macOS with corrected file permissions. After reinstalling, try to check for updates. They should now work normally again.

Preventing Update Issues in the Future

Once you get your MacBook Air successfully checking for updates again, follow these tips to avoid further issues down the road:

  • Always install macOS and App Store updates right away
  • Don’t modify essential system files/permissions
  • Use a firewall/security app that’s compatible with macOS
  • Manage login items to remove unnecessary apps from loading at startup
  • Avoid using beta releases of macOS unless needed
  • Run regular maintenance with apps like OnyX and CleanMyMac
  • Check System Information for hardware problems before they occur

Keeping your system properly maintained, up-to-date, and free of major conflicts is crucial for ensuring a smooth updating experience over time. Be proactive and you can avoid bigger issues down the line.

When to Seek Further Assistance

If you still can’t get your MacBook Air to check for updates after exhausting all of these troubleshooting steps, your best bet is to consult official Apple support channels or a qualified technician. There may be a deeper hardware or software issue that requires advanced diagnostics and repairs.

Here are a few options to consider if you need hands-on expert help:

  • Book a Genius Bar appointment at an Apple Store for in-person support
  • Contact Apple Support by phone or chat to troubleshoot with an advisor
  • Find an Apple Authorized Service Provider to run diagnostics
  • Use Apple’s built-in Remote Diagnostics service for tech analysis
  • Take your Mac to an independent repair shop with Mac expertise

Apple technicians and authorized third-party experts will have deeper insight into any potential hardware defects, compatibility problems, software bugs, or corruption that standard users can’t easily identify and fix. The repair may be as simple as a failing hard drive cable or corrupted file system. Or in rare cases, entirely new components may need to be replaced if unrecoverable failures are found.

Before taking your MacBook Air in for service, be sure to properly back up your data so important files aren’t lost if any repairs require wiping the drive. With expert help, your update issues will hopefully be resolved and your Mac will be ready to download the latest macOS releases again.


Not being able to check for macOS updates is a frustrating problem, but fixing it is often just a matter of following the right troubleshooting steps. In most cases, the issue can be resolved through simple network resets, Mac App Store refreshes, date/time corrections, or installing macOS from scratch. But for difficult or intermittent cases that persist, seeking assistance from Apple or authorized technicians can get your MacBook Air updates successfully checking again.

Back up your data, stay positive, and be diligent in working through these solutions until your MacBook Air can maintain a healthy update lifecycle once more. Keeping your system up-to-date is important for security, bug fixes, and accessing the latest features from Apple. With the proper maintenance and care, your trusty MacBook Air still has years of use ahead of it. Don’t give up hope if updates fail occasionally – just turn to this guide and you’ll be checking for the latest macOS releases again in no time.

Solution Details
Check network connection Confirm WiFi, Ethernet, router, and ISP are working
Troubleshoot App Store Check App Store app, restart, update, reset
Verify date and time Set automatic or manual settings correctly
Monitor Apple System Status Watch for service outages on Apple’s status page
Resolve software conflicts Update apps, restart, check Safe Mode, create new user account
Clean reinstall macOS Use Recovery to wipe disk and freshly install macOS