Step-by-Step Guide: How to Update Your Old Mac Easily

To update your old Mac easily, check compatible, available storage space and back up your data to proceed.

Are you struggling with your old Mac, wondering how to update it to the latest macOS? Our devices often require updates for optimal performance and access to new features. This comprehensive guide provides a simple step-by-step process to Update Your Old Mac Easily, regardless of its model or version. Let’s get that slow, buggy machine up-to-date and running like a brand-new device again!

Quick Summary

  • Check compatibility: Before updating your old Mac, check if it is compatible with the latest macOS update by navigating to the Apple menu and selecting “About This Mac.”
  • Prepare your Mac: Ensure you have enough storage space for the update by checking available storage in the “Storage” tab of “About This Mac.” Back up your data using external hard drives or cloud storage services like iCloud or Dropbox.
  • Update macOS: Access System Preferences and click on “Software Update.” Follow the prompts to download and install the latest macOS version. Ensure you have a stable internet connection and enough battery life, or connect to a power source before initiating the update.
  • Troubleshoot common issues: If you encounter issues during the update, try restarting your Mac or resetting NVRAM/PRAM. Check your internet connection for stability, and use Safe Mode for troubleshooting potential software conflicts.

Checking Compatibility and Preparing Your Mac for the Update

To update your old Mac easily, check if it is compatible with the latest macOS update. Check the available storage space and back up your data before proceeding.

Determine if your Mac is compatible with the latest macOS update

Ensuring your Mac’s compatibility with the latest macOS update is crucial before you begin. Start by navigating the Apple menu and selecting “About This Mac”. Please note your Mac model on this screen, as it will be a key determinant for compatibility with new updates. To understand if your old Mac can handle the latest OS, consult Apple’s official list of compatible devices or check out the system requirements on each macOS download page. You may also need to consider downloading an unsupported macOS version if your device falls within the ‘too old’ category. Doing so allows one to breathe new life into older machines while keeping abreast of current software developments.

Check available storage space

Before updating your old Mac, it’s crucial to check the available storage space on your device. Insufficient storage can lead to update failures or cause your Mac to run slowly after the update. To do this, simply click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select “About This Mac.” Then, go to the “Storage” tab, and you’ll see a breakdown of how much space is used by different categories like apps, documents, photos, etc. If there isn’t enough free space for the update, deleting unnecessary files or moving them to an external storage device is recommended. You can also use built-in tools such as macOS’ Optimized Storage feature or third-party software to help clear up space automatically.

Back up your data

To ensure the safety of your important files and documents, it is crucial to back up your data before updating your old Mac. Here’s how to do it:
  1. Connect an external hard drive or use a cloud storage service like iCloud or Dropbox for backup.
  2. Open the Finder on your Mac.
  3. Locate and select the files and folders you want to back up.
  4. Right-click on the selected items and choose “Copy” from the drop-down menu.
  5. Navigate to the external hard drive or cloud storage folder where you want to save the backup.
  6. Right-click in that location and select “Paste” to copy the files and folders into the backup location.

Update Your Old Mac Easily

To update macOS on your Mac, access System Preferences and navigate to the Software Update option.

Access System Preferences

You must access the System Preferences menu to update your old Mac. Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu. Access System Preferences Once there, look for the option that says “Software Update,” represented by an icon with a gear inside it. Clicking on this will open up a new window where you can check for available updates for your macOS. The system will automatically search for updates and display them if available. If updates are ready to be installed, click “Update Now” to start the process. Remember, it’s important to have a stable internet connection while doing this step so that your Mac can successfully download and install any necessary software updates. Also, ensure you have enough battery life or connect your Mac to a power source before initiating the update.

Go to Software Update

You must access the Software Update feature to update your old Mac. Go to Software Update Here’s how:
  1. First, click on the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select “System Preferences.”.
  3. In the System Preferences window, look for and click on “Software Update.” This will open a new window dedicated to updating your Mac’s software.
  4. Once in the Software Update window, your Mac automatically checks for available updates.
  5. If updates are available, click “Update Now” to start downloading and installing them.
That’s it! Your Mac will take care of the rest and seamlessly guide you through the update process. Remember to watch for any prompts or additional actions required during installation.

Follow the prompts to download and install the latest macOS update

To download and install the latest macOS update on your old Mac, follow these steps:
  1. Go to the Apple menu and select “System Preferences.”
  2. Click on “Software Update” to check for any available updates.
  3. Click “Update Now” to start downloading if an update is found.
  4. Wait for the update to finish downloading, which may take some time, depending on your internet connection.
  5. Once the download is complete, click “Continue” to install the update.
  6. Follow the prompts on the screen to proceed with the installation.
  7. You may be asked to enter your administrator password during the installation process.
  8. After entering your password, click “Install Software” to install the update.
  9. Your Mac will restart during installation, so ensure you’ve saved any important work before proceeding.
  10. Once the installation is complete, your Mac will reboot with the updated macOS version.

Troubleshooting Common Update Issues

If you encounter any issues during the update process, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Our step-by-step guide will walk you through troubleshooting common problems and getting your Mac up to date quickly. Keep reading to find out how to overcome any obstacles that may arise along the way.

Restart your Mac

To troubleshoot common update issues on your Mac, one of the first steps you can take is to restart your computer. Restarting your Mac helps refresh its system and clear any temporary glitches hindering the update process. Simply click on the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen and select “Restart.” Allow your Mac to shut down completely before turning it back on. This simple action can often resolve minor software conflicts and make it easier for your Mac to install updates smoothly. Restarting is quick and easy to save you from unnecessary troubleshooting efforts.


To troubleshoot common update issues on your old Mac, resetting the NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) or PRAM (parameter random-access memory) can be helpful. This process involves clearing certain settings stored in your computer’s memory that may be causing conflicts during the update. To reset the NVRAM or PRAM, start by shutting down your Mac. Then, turn it back on and immediately hold down the Option + Command + P + R keys simultaneously before the grey startup screen appears. Hold these keys until your Mac automatically restarts, and you hear the startup sound again. By resetting NVRAM or PRAM, you’re essentially refreshing critical system settings related to display resolution, sound volume, startup disk selection, and more. This can help resolve any glitches that might have been hindering successful macOS updates on your old Mac.

Check your internet connection

To ensure a smooth and successful update of your old Mac, it is crucial to check your internet connection. A stable and reliable internet connection is necessary for downloading the latest macOS update. Slow or intermittent connectivity can lead to interrupted downloads or errors during the installation process. Before proceeding with the update, ensure you are connected to a strong Wi-Fi network or have an Ethernet connection. You can easily check your internet connection by opening a web browser on your Mac and visiting websites to confirm that they load quickly and without any issues. By ensuring a dependable connection, you can prevent potential problems that may arise during the updating process of your beloved Mac computer.

Use Safe Mode to troubleshoot

If you encounter issues while updating your old Mac, you can try troubleshooting using Safe Mode. In Safe Mode, your Mac will boot with only essential software and drivers, which can help identify and resolve any compatibility or software conflicts that may be causing problems. Here’s how to use Safe Mode for troubleshooting:
  1. Shut down your Mac completely.
  2. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
  3. Immediately press and hold the Shift key until the Apple logo appears.
  4. Release the Shift key when you see the login screen or desktop.
  5. In Safe Mode, you may notice that your screen looks slightly different, as certain features and extensions are disabled.
  6. Test if the issue persists in Safe Mode. If it doesn’t, a third-party application or extension may be causing the problem.
  7. To exit Safe Mode, restart your Mac without pressing any keys.

Seek further assistance from Apple Support

If you encounter any issues during the update process or your Mac won’t update despite following the steps outlined above, it’s best to seek further assistance from Apple Support. They have a dedicated team of experts who can provide guidance and troubleshooting solutions for updating your old Mac. Whether it’s a technical glitch, compatibility problem, or any other issue, reaching out to Apple Support will ensure you receive the help you need to update your Mac successfully. Remember, their expertise and resources are there to assist you throughout this process and ensure a smooth transition to the latest macOS version.

Final Steps and Best Practices

After updating your old Mac, don’t forget to check for future updates and install them promptly and regularly. Optimizing storage by deleting unnecessary files will help keep your Mac running smoothly. Test all your apps and software to ensure they are compatible with the new macOS version. By following these final steps and best practices, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of an updated Mac fully.

Ensure all apps and software are up to date

To optimize the performance of your updated Mac, it’s crucial to ensure that all your apps and software are up to date. Outdated applications can cause compatibility issues and malfunction with the latest macOS update. To check for updates, open the App Store on your Mac and click “Updates” in the sidebar. You’ll see a list of available updates for your installed apps from there. Click “Update” next to each app to install the latest version. In addition to updating your apps, it’s also important to keep your Mac’s system software up to date. Regularly checking for system updates will ensure you have Apple’s latest security patches, bug fixes, and performance enhancements. To check for macOS updates, go to System Preferences from the Apple menu and select “Software Update.” If there are any available updates, click “Update Now” and follow the prompts to download and install them.

Test your Mac after the update

After successfully updating your old Mac, it’s essential to test its performance and functionality. Check if all the installed applications are running smoothly without any issues. Ensure that you can access the internet and browse websites without any interruptions. Test the speed of your Mac by performing tasks like opening multiple programs simultaneously or watching videos online. If you encounter any problems or notice a decrease in performance, restart your Mac and try again. Remember to be patient during this process, as everything may take some time after the update. After thoroughly testing your Mac after the update, you can ensure it works optimally with the latest macOS version installed.

Delete unnecessary files and optimize storage

Deleting unnecessary files and optimising storage is important to ensure optimal performance after updating your old Mac. Here are the steps to follow:
  1. Clean up your desktop: Remove any unnecessary files or folders from your desktop and organize them into specific folders.
  2. Clear out the Downloads folder: Go through your folder and delete any files you no longer need. Transfer important files to appropriate locations on your Mac or an external storage device.
  3. Empty Trash: Right-click on the Trash icon in your Dock and select “Empty Trash” to permanently delete all the items in the Trash.
  4. Uninstall unused applications: Open Finder, go to the Applications folder and review all the installed applications. If there are any apps you no longer use or need, right-click on them and select “Move to Trash.” Then, empty the Trash as mentioned in step 3.
  5. Delete large files: Use a tool like Disk Inventory X or DaisyDisk to identify large files taking up unnecessary space on your Mac. Once identified, delete these files or move them to external storage if needed.
  6. Enable iCloud Drive: If you haven’t already, enable iCloud Drive on your Mac. This allows you to store files in the cloud instead of locally on your machine, freeing up valuable storage space.
  7. Optimize Storage: In System Preferences, click on “Apple ID,” then select “iCloud” and navigate to “Manage.” From here, click “Optimize…” next to “Storage” to automatically remove downloaded TV shows and movies you’ve already watched from your Mac.
  8. Use cloud storage services: Consider utilizing cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox for storing documents, photos, and other files that don’t require constant offline access.

Regularly check for future updates and perform them promptly

To keep your old Mac running smoothly and securely, it’s important to check for future updates and perform them promptly and regularly. Apple releases updates to improve performance, fix bugs, and add new features to its operating system. You can ensure your Mac runs at its best by staying up-to-date with the latest updates. To check for updates on your Mac, go to the Apple menu and select “System Preferences.” Click “Software Update” from there to see if any new updates are available. Click “Update Now” to start the installation process if updates are available.

Enjoy your updated Mac!

Once the update process is complete and your old Mac is running on the latest macOS, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the benefits of your updated system. You can now experience improved performance, enhanced security features, and access to the latest software updates and applications. Take some time to explore the new features and functionalities of the updated operating system. Ensuring all your apps and software are current is also good. This will help optimize your Mac’s performance and ensure compatibility with the latest updates. Regularly checking for future updates is important, too, so you can stay ahead of any potential issues or vulnerabilities. In addition, take this opportunity to declutter your Mac by deleting unnecessary files and optimizing storage space. This will free up valuable disk space and contribute to smoother operation. Remember, keeping your Mac updated is essential in maintaining its overall health and longevity. So, make it a habit to check for updates regularly and perform them promptly when available.


Updating your old Mac doesn’t have to be a daunting task. This step-by-step guide lets you easily upgrade your Mac and enjoy the latest features and improvements. From checking compatibility to troubleshooting common issues, we’ve covered everything you need to know. Don’t let your outdated hardware hold you back – follow these simple steps and keep your Mac up-to-date effortlessly. Happy updating!


1. Can I update my old Mac to the latest operating system?

Yes, in most cases, you can update your old Mac to the latest operating system as long as it meets the minimum system requirements set by Apple.

2. How do I check if my old Mac is compatible with the latest operating system?

To check if your old Mac is compatible with the latest operating system, go to the Apple menu and select “About This Mac.” From there, click “Overview” and check for information about your model and its compatibility with the latest updates.

3. What are the benefits of updating my old Mac?

Updating your old Mac can provide access to new features, improved security measures, bug fixes, better performance and compatibility with newer software applications.

4. Is it necessary to back up my files before updating my old Mac?

Although not required, it is highly recommended that you back up your files before updating your old Mac. This ensures that any important data or settings are safe if something goes wrong during the update process.