How do TidBITS readers update their apps?

I’d be interested in knowing how other TidBITS Readers keep all Apps on their Macs updated. I am responsible for maintaining my family’s Macs and have resorted to using a mixture of brew commands, the Mac App Store, Microsoft AutoUpdate, CleanMyMac X, and MacUpdater (none can identify all the updates available). There must be a better way.

For me, it’s very ad-hoc. Most of my apps are configured to check for (but not auto-install) updates. When I see the notifications, I generally perform the upgrade, unless there’s a particular reason why I don’t want to do it at that time.

But I don’t configure them to check in the background, so they check when the app is running. Which is pretty much equivalent for the apps I use all the time, but may involve a significant delay for apps I don’t use that often.

This is sufficient for everything I regularly use, including macOS itself, anything from the App Store, Microsoft’s apps, Adobe’s apps, Filemaker, Mozilla’s apps and many others.

But it definitely doesn’t hit everything. Some require me to explicitly look for and install updates. And stuff I compiled myself (typically open source apps) requires me to jump through a few hoops to upgrade (pull the latest sources, compile, test, install alongside the old version, and delete the old version a few weeks later). These apps tend to not get upgraded very often - usually only if I experience a problem.

MacUpdater for me. In addition to direct app updates for nearly every app I use, it also tracks apps from the App Store and Microsoft and can launch the appropriate updaters. MacUpdater’s developer is very responsive to suggestions, and I find it well worth paying for.

My only criticism is that they only sell new licenses for the version (v3) of MacUpdater that requires Ventura or newer. You still can download v2 to run on Mojave or later, but if you don’t already have a paid v2 license, it will run only in free mode, i.e. mostly as a notification tool rather than an updater. Even as a mere notifier, v2 still is useful, especially for free.

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My updating is somewhat ad-hoc. I update several that notify me of no-charge updates as soon as I can without interrupting work flow. That includes Firefox, Quicken, Nisus Writer Pro, and Graphic Converter. Zoom does not notify me, but I wish it did because it sometimes has launched an update when I was trying to get into a meeting and I had to wait until it was finished. I am avoiding updating Microsoft Office because I don’t want to get stuck with the subscription version and because I don’t see anything new that I need. The main reason I use Word is for change tracking; it’s not very good, but it’s a must have writing for some publications and I’ve never found anything as good.

Another vote for MacUpdater here. Excellent app. But I use it mainly to alert me to what updates are available, then I open the app and update from within the app, or go to maker’s website. I have very occasionally used it to update the app.

One thing I like about MacUpdater is its information window. It contains a lot of useful information, including release notes (if available) and clickable links to the download source and developer website. Even if you prefer to download and install software manually, it makes the process significantly more efficient.

Screenshot 2024-03-13 at 8.01.17 AM

I just let apps or the Mac App Store notify me. In nearly all cases, I update immediately, with the main exception being if I’m in the middle of using the app and don’t want to stop.

Like @ace, I let apps from the App Store automatically update themselves. Similarly my Microsoft apps (e.g. Microsoft 365, OneDrive, Remote Desktop. Defender) auto-update themselves in the background.

Beyond that, there are very few apps that I use that don’t have automatic notifications of available updates. Most often I’ll immediately apply those updates except if I’m in the middle of something - then I’ll wait until the task I’m working on is done.

For the remaining handful of apps that don’t automatically update me, I’ll check to see if there are available updates.

I do have MacPorts and a couple of open-source utilities that I’ve compiled myself. I’ll manually check every so often for available updates.

I don’t, not because I’m afraid something might break (well, not very afraid), but because if I have to go click Update in the App Store, it lets me read the change log. I can think of a number of times an app has fixed a bug or added a feature I was waiting for (even if I didn’t know I was waiting for it :slightly_smiling_face:). If I’d let it update in the background, I wouldn’t have known about the change until I happened to stumble upon it.