There are a few common reasons why your MacBook Air may be unable to check for updates:
Internet Connection Issues
In order to check for software updates, your MacBook Air needs to be connected to the internet. Here are some things to check if you’re having trouble connecting:
- Make sure Wi-Fi is turned on. Go to System Preferences > Network and ensure Wi-Fi is enabled.
- Restart your router and modem. Turn them off, wait 30 seconds, then turn back on.
- Check for internet service outages in your area.
- Move closer to your Wi-Fi router, or connect via Ethernet if possible.
- Forget the Wi-Fi network on your Mac and re-join it.
- Reset network settings on your Mac. Go to System Preferences > Network > Advanced > TCP/IP and click “Renew DHCP Lease.”
- Check your firewall and security software. Temporarily disable any firewalls or internet security software and try again.
If you’ve tried all of these steps and are still unable to connect, contact your internet service provider for assistance.
Software Update Issues
If your internet connection seems fine, the issue may be with the software update service itself. Here are some things to try:
- Restart your MacBook Air. A simple restart can often resolve temporary software glitches.
- Check for App Store issues. Try opening the App Store app and checking for updates to other apps. If the App Store seems unresponsive, there may be a temporary issue on Apple’s side.
- Disable VPNs and firewalls temporarily. Anti-virus software and VPN connections can sometimes interfere with software updates.
- Reset NVRAM/PRAM. Hold down Command, Option, P, and R while restarting your Mac until you hear the startup chime a second time. This resets various settings.
- Delete /Library/Updates and try again. The Mac caches update data in this folder, so clearing it out may help.
- Reapply the latest Combo Updater from Apple. This can reinstall system files that may have become corrupted.
If the issues persist even after trying these steps, get in touch with Apple Support for further troubleshooting.
System Software Issues
In some cases, the underlying Mac system software may be having issues that prevent updates from being recognized or installed. Some possible issues include:
- Corrupted system files. Use Disk Utility First Aid to check for and repair disk errors.
- Not enough free storage space. Make sure you have at least 10GB of available storage.
- Incompatible software. Very outdated or incompatible apps can sometimes interfere with system updates.
- Beta software. Running beta software (like macOS betas) can cause issues with normal software updates.
- Permissions problems. Go to Disk Utility > Select Main Drive > First Aid > Repair Disk Permissions.
If you suspect underlying system file corruption or incompatibilities, try reinstalling macOS using Recovery Mode or an external bootable installer drive.
Checking for and Installing Updates
Once you’ve addressed any connection, software or system issues, here is the process for manually checking and installing Mac updates:
- Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of the screen.
- Select “About This Mac.”
- Look at the version number listed. Make note of it.
- Now click on System Preferences > Software Update. Let it check for updates.
- If any updates are found, click the “Update Now” button to install them.
- Once installed, check the Mac’s version number again in About This Mac. It should now be higher than before.
Major updates like going from macOS 10.14 to 10.15 may require restarting your computer multiple times as different components are updated. Be patient and let the full update process complete. The Mac will prompt you to restart if necessary.
If Software Update says your system is up to date, but you know a newer version of macOS exists, try the steps below to force a manual update:
- Back up your Mac before updating.
- Go to App Store > Search for macOS.
- Download and install the macOS installer (it will be several GB in size).
- When done, it will launch the installer app. Follow prompts to update.
To summarize, here are some troubleshooting steps to take when your MacBook Air can’t check for updates:
- Check your internet connection and routers.
- Restart your MacBook Air and try again.
- Temporarily disable security software.
- Clear cached update data.
- Check for system file corruption or disk issues.
- Make sure you have enough free disk space.
If you still can’t get Software Update to work, contact Apple support to investigate further. With some persistence and trial and error, you should be able to get your MacBook Air updating properly again.