DoIT Departmental Tech Support - macOS Updates and Upgrades Overview

This document provides an overview of processes and expectations related to keeping the operating system on Apple computers, macOS, up to date. It also links to more detailed documentation regarding updating/upgrading, understanding Nudge, macOS approval status and compatibility, and provides information about obtaining assistance with any related issues.

Reasons to Keep macOS Up To Date

  • Enhance and add new features
  • Patch security flaws and add new security features
  • Fix bug issues
  • Improve performance
  • Older versions of macOS are not supportable by your IT on campus and will need to meet the minimum requirements in order to be used in the campus computer environment.

Update vs Upgrade and How-To

Apple uses the terms "update" and "upgrade" to refer to slightly different processes. An update is a newer version of the currently installed macOS, such as an update from macOS Monterey 12.5 to macOS Monterey 12.6. An upgrade is a major new version of macOS with a new name, such as an upgrade from macOS Monterey to macOS Ventura.

In order to update or upgrade your version of macOS, open Software Update located in System Preferences. More detailed instructions can be found here.

When running an update or upgrade you will be prompted to enter the credentials of the current user. ***Note*** admin credentials are generally NOT required even if the prompt may request an administrator account. Your NetID and password should work for this prompt, however versions of macOS earlier than 12.3 will require admin account credentials to perform an upgrade. If you are unable to successfully perform an update or upgrade to your computer, please see the Need Help section of this document.

Nudge Notifications 

If a computer is not on an acceptable version of macOS, an application called Nudge will begin to display notifications informing the current user that they need to take action to update their version of macOS. Users may defer the Nudge notification for up to 7 days, however you should update your system at your earliest convenience to avoid accessibility issues on your computer due to having reached the 7 day deadline. More detailed information regarding Nudge can be found can be found at the following links:

DoIT Departmental Tech Support - Nudge Overview (macOS)
DoIT Departmental Tech Support - Nudge Troubleshooting (macOS)

macOS Approval Status and Compatibility

Apple releases new major versions of macOS annually, and new releases sometimes introduce compatibility issues with commonly used campus software. Departmental Support thoroughly tests new releases of macOS and publishes the results for campus review. When no major issues remain with a new release of macOS, Departmental Support will communicate approval of the new version to customers so they can upgrade. More information on this process can be found at the following links:

DoIT Departmental Tech Support - Supported OS Policy
Current macOS testing and compatibility status documents


Need Help?

Departmental Support customers can contact the DoIT Help Desk for assistance updating or upgrading their Mac systems. Having the following information ready will expedite the diagnostic process, however a Help Desk agent will be happy to help collect these details if needed.

  • NetID of the user attempting to run the update/upgrade
  • Serial number of the affected computer
  • Current version macOS installed
  • Version of macOS attempting to be installed
  • Description of the issue encountered, including the text of any error messages


Keywordsmacos, update, hub, upgrade, nudge, approval status, compatibility document, mac management ds   Doc ID126967
OwnerJOSEPH W.GroupDoIT Departmental Support
Created2023-03-30 09:22:12Updated2023-05-05 10:56:49
SitesDoIT Departmental Support, DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Staff
CleanURLhttps://kb.wisc.edu/ds-macos-updates-and-upgrades-overview
Feedback  3   0