"download new updates when available" ... Not

A question I’ve been wanting some clarification on for a while:
An advanced feature in Mac OS Software Update checked download new updates when available has never proceeded as far as I can tell.
Is there a way to prompt the feature, other than bypassing it… and simply downloading and installing
“new updates”?

“Automatically keep my Mac up-to-date” should download and install as required - basically turning on all the Advanced options.

The “download new updates when available” option is (I think) what happens when an OS update is available but you’ve not ticked the automatically install option. It’s what’s happens when you open your applications folder and there’s an 'Install Mac OS Whatever" installer already there. It downloads so it’s ready when you decide to update.

I’m typically an early installer, so I often initiate an installation when first notified of it’s existence, so don’t give the download new updates when available time to happen. But I do have it checked and have had it happen upon occasion when I waited long enough.

I don’t now for certain, but I suspect that downloads only happen at one random time a day, so perhaps you just haven’t waited long enough to see it.

hmm, as for time of day, perhaps this is one of those background operations that is supposed to happen at 3 am, or something… I seem to recall Mac OS has some background maintenance routines that happen at … 3 AM

I have been assuming that the download new updates when available option was supposed to be similar to iOS, wherein an update can be configured to “download only”

One has to look at the big picture here. The infrastructure for updating all ba-zillion Apple devices in one big bang would be totally impractical. The distribution would happen all at once and then sit idle for some months for the next release.

Nope. This stuff is slowly metered out around the world in stages. The first is a message citing that an update is ready. You can ask for it as Al has done. Next, you have to be ready - is PowerNap on, is there enough memory, is WiFi on, is hibernation on, is there enough battery available if you are not connected to power, is the WiFi slow (maybe it’s streaming and Apple could be supporting more receptive users), etc. Today my iWatch notified me that it will try to update tonight. My MBP now shows the updates are ready (ambiguous - is it ready to install? or ready to download and install?). I’ve seen ready-to-install with the option to install later or now, but seldom have I seen “it’s installed”. A forced install is not going to happen, Too many unhappy clients as Windows has found out.
Those are the steps. One can be laid back or more aggressive. It’s mine to choose. MIke

My iPod updated itself a couple of times.