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Mac OS X Hacks by Rael Dornfest, Kevin Hemenway

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Software Update on the Command Line

Just like it’s pretty GUI counterpart, the command-line softwareupdate checks for updates to OS X itself and other associated applications, installing them upon approval.

As Apple moves onward and upward in its efforts to synchronize what happens above and below the shiny Aqua desktop, some previously GUI-only bits have made their way to the Terminal command line. One such function is Software Update; just like its pretty GUI counterpart, softwareupdate (man softwareupdate) checks for updates to OS X itself and other associated applications, installing them upon approval.

Aside from simply appealing to Unix jocks, Software Update on the command line affords administrators (especially those with multiple Macs to keep in sync) the ability to log in remotely and perform updates without having to wander physically from machine to machine. A good admin can actually go so far as to automate the process.

Software Update CLI Walk-Through

Let’s take a stroll through softwareupdate.

Tip

It’s always advisable to close out of all applications except the Finder and Software Update or the Terminal in which you’re doing a software update. This is the best preemptive medicine for avoiding complications and conflicts that might arise from updating the system beneath the feet of running applications.

The first step is to see if any updates are available. Launch the Terminal [Hack #48] application and type softwareupdate at the command-line prompt. Software Update ...

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