How to Update Your MacBook Air Laptop

Is a macOS update available for MacBook Air and how do you install it?

The operating system on your MacBook Air gets updated from time to time to introduce new features and, perhaps more importantly, to fix bugs and improve security.

There are different ways to update your MacBook Air. We look at all the ways for you to get this done.

Before updating your MacBook Air, make sure to have a good backup in place. Most of the time, you won't run into any problems, but it's always a good idea to have a good backup.

How to Update MacBook Air: macOS Mojave and Later

macOS Mojave (10.14) introduced a new way to check for operating system updates. Here's how it's done now:

  1. Select System Preferences from the Apple menu in the Finder, or select its icon in the Dock.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. Select Software Update.

    Software Update in macOS System Preferences
  3. If your MacBook Air finds a new update, select Update Now.

    Searching for software update

    If your MacBook doesn't find a new update, a message will appear that says, "Your Mac is up to date." If it does find a new update, select Update Now to begin the update process.

    Depending on the size of the update, this can take a few minutes or up to an hour.

    How to Update MacBook Air: macOS High Sierra and Earlier

    If you have macOS High Sierra (10.13) or an earlier operating system, such as El Capitan (10.11) or Yosemite (10.10), you'll have to update your MacBook Air using a slightly different route. Here it is:

  4. Open the App Store on your MacBook Air.

  5. In the menu bar at the top of the App Store window, select the Updates tab.

    High Sierra update
  6. If a Software Update is available, select Update.

Once again, depending on the size of the update, this can take a few minutes to nearly an hour. Once the update has finished, your MacBook Air will restart.

Make a Backup Before Updating

While a backup is rarely ever needed when updating a MacBook Air, it's still a good idea to make one, just in case something goes wrong during the update process.

  1. Connect an external storage device to your MacBook, such as a Thunderbolt, USB, or FireWire hard drive.

  2. From the menu bar, select the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the Mac screen.

  3. Select System Preferences.

  4. Select Time Machine > Select Backup Disk.

    Time Machine backup
  5. Select the external drive you're using, then select Encrypt backups.

  6. Select Use Disk.

This begins the backup process, which is regularly and automatically repeated in the future if you keep the Time Machine linked to your storage device in the ON position.

Can Your Mac Run the Latest Operating System?

One other thing you may like to do before updating is to check the compatibility of your MacBook Air with the macOS version you want to download and install. This isn't entirely necessary, but it can give you an idea of whether your Mac will be able to upgrade to that version or not.

About My Mac

For instance, if you plan to download macOS Catalina, the Apple website states that you'll need a mid-2012 MacBook Air (or later). It also notes that you can update directly to Mojave from any macOS going back to 2012's OS X Mountain Lion.

Likewise, here's what you'll need if you plan to update to any of the following operating systems:

  • macOS Mojave or Catalina: MacBook Air from mid-2012 or newer, OS X Mavericks (10.9) or later.
  • macOS Sierra or High Sierra: MacBook Air from late 2010 (or later), OS X Lion or later (Mountain Lion in the case of High Sierra).
  • OS X El Capitan: MacBook Air from late 2008 (or later), OS X Snow Leopard or later.
  • OS X Yosemite: MacBook Air from late 2008 (or later), OS X Snow Leopard or later.

You can do the following to find out which operating system your MacBook Air has:

  1. Select About This Mac under the Apple menu.

    About This Mac
  2. The current version of macOS appears in the center of the next window.

    The macOS version in About This Mac
  3. Use this information to decide whether you can upgrade.

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