Please keep your computer up to date | #macos | #macsecurity


I received an email from a reader this week about a recent malware column.

“I read your article from two weeks ago about installing Malware Bytes on my four-year-old iMac, but when I tried to install it, I got a message stating I needed MacOS version 10.15 or higher. My version is 10.11.6 and there were no updates available. Am I doing something wrong?”

The reader isn’t doing anything wrong, but there is a misunderstanding about system updates, especially on the Macintosh.

If you notice, the reader’s iMac is running Mac operating system version 10.11.6.

Mac OS 10 came out originally in 2001.

The second number in the OS version scheme is the major upgrades, which are usually released yearly in late summer or early fall.

The third number is the minor updates, and they are released fairly often.

Pay attention to the difference in wording — upgrades are major and happen once per year, while updates are released as needed during the year.

Apple may release six or more minor updates before the next major upgrade.

The old iMac likely shipped with OS 10.11, and the software update control panel informs the user when there is a minor update to install. You can even set these minor updates to install automatically.

This is how the computer was kept up to date (for a while) and got to version 10.11.6.

What the reader didn’t realize is major upgrades are NOT done automatically.

Your Mac will not prompt you to update from 10.11 to 10.12 or from 10.12 to 10.13. Those major upgrades are up to the user to initiate through the Software Update control panel or Mac App store.

If your Mac is not using the most current version, you’ll see the option to upgrade the next time you open Software Update. If you don’t see a reminder to upgrade, you can always find the newest MacOS upgrade in the Mac App store.

Around the time Apple released 10.12, it stopped issuing minor updates to 10.11.

The iMac ran fine with 10.11.6, so there was no cause for alarm or real reason to update further until the reader wanted to load software (Malware Bytes, in this case) that was not compatible with older versions of the MacOS.

Also, if you are running older versions of the OS, your Mac is more vulnerable to security issues.

The reader needs to go to the Mac App store and download the latest operating system, called Big Sur, which is MacOS version 11. According to Apple, iMacs from 2014 and newer can run Big Sur.

The upgrade should take 30 to 60 minutes to complete, and it’s free.

Here are some instructions from Apple on installing Big Sur.

Note that the next version of the operating system, Monterey, will be released this fall.

Windows users should also keep their computer’s operating system up to date.

It is been my experience that updates are a little easier to keep up with on Windows.

Microsoft is releasing Windows 11 soon, and users will want to keep an eye on how that works out for the early adopters. I won’t be updating my systems for a few months to give Microsoft enough time to squash any bugs.

I’ll be writing more about Windows 11 soon.

Here is a good page from Microsoft on keeping your Windows version current.



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