9.21. Software Update
Few operating-system ideas are simpler or better than this one: Whenever Apple
improves or fixes some piece Mac OS X or some Apple-branded program, the Software
Update program can notify you, download the update, and install it into your system
automatically. These updates may include new versions of programs like iPhoto and
iMovie; drivers for newly released printers, scanners, cameras, and such; bug fixes and
security patches; and so on.
Software Update doesn't run rampant through your system software, however. It's quietly
respectful. For example, Software Update doesn't download the new software without
asking your permission first and explicitly telling you what it plans to install, as shown in
Figure 9-15. When Software Update finds an appropriate software morsel, it
presents this dialog box that offers to install it automatically. (If you see a smaller
version of this dialog box, with no visible list of the new components, click the
Apple has always created updated and bug-fixing versions of its software
components, but they don't do you any good if you don't know about them. You no
longer have to scour Mac news Web sites to discover that one of these components
has been released and then hunt down the software itself.
9.21.1. Scheduled Check Tab
For maximum effortlessness, turn on the "Check for updates" checkbox and then select a
frequency from the pop-up menu—daily, weekly, or monthly. If you also turn on
"Download important updates in the background," you'll still be notified before anything
gets installed, but you won't have to wait for the downloading—the deed will already be
(If you've had "Check for updates" turned off, you can always click the Check Now
button to force Mac OS X to report in to see if new patches are available.)
9.21.2. Installed Updates Tab
Software Update also keeps a meticulous log of everything it drops into your system. On
this tab, you see them listed, for your reference pleasure.
Tip: In your hard drive Library Receipts folder, you'll find a liberal handful of
.pkg files that have been downloaded by Software Update.Most of these are nothing more
than receipts that help Mac OS X understand which updaters you've already downloaded
and installed. They make intriguing reading, but their primary practical use is finding
whether or not you've installed, for example, the 10.5.2 update.