Critical Software Update on Mac: 5 Ways to Fix It

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Once in your life as a Mac user, have you ever encountered this message: “A critical software update is required for your Mac, but an error was encountered while installing this update”? A further note then states, “Your Mac can’t be used until this update is installed.”

The problem, however, doesn’t end there. Your computer seems to be trapped in an endless loop as the “critical software update” doesn’t seem to work, locking down your Mac and preventing you from using your machine smoothly and problem-free.

Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate this Mac critical software update issue – why it occurs and a few solid steps you can take to solve it.

How to Fix the ‘Critical Software Update’ Problem on Macs

Imagine this: your computer boots up, and you immediately get a plain white screen with a spinning gear for what seems like an eternity. Then you get the dreaded error message, and there’s hardly any indication of what’s happening and you can’t see the log to see what’s going on. Your Mac is good as useless because you have to shut it down or click Try again, which seems to never work.

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There are a number of likely reasons why this glitch is taking place. At the same time, here are some quick fixes you can try on your own:

  • Tackle Malfunctioning Touch Bar – MacBooks that have the Touch Bar often fall victim to the critical software update problem on Mac. Serving as a built-in accessory, the Touch Bar has particular firmware to help it operate, and this can lead to issues when it’s time to get macOS updated.

A separate update, after all, is required for the Touch Bar, and this update is prone to problems with internet connection as well as in reaction to other factors present during the update process.

Here’s a quick way to address this problem:

  1. Turn off your MacBook. If necessary, hold down Power for a forced shutdown in case it doesn’t respond.
  2. Connect your machine to a wired network; avoid using WiFi. The idea is to link to a directly connected network connection, sans any restriction to access.
  3. Boot up your MacBook and tell it to restart. Try updating the software again. The reboot may take a while, but that’s all right and you can wait to load macOS properly.
  • Address or Uninstall Misbehaving Apps – A recently downloaded app may not be working right with macOS. Try to delete recently installed apps if you can access macOS even for a few moments, and then see if that effectively fixes the issue.

An app can negatively interact with Apple updates, so the simple solution is simply uninstall it if it’s incompatible with the current update process.

  • Uninstall Hands Off! – This app monitors and controls the access of other apps to your network and disks. Using Hands Off!, you can track as well as gain control of internet connections from all apps so as to detect hidden connections and hinder them from sending data or phoning home without your consent.

Hands Off! has been associated with critical software update issues as it installs a kernel-level network extension to control network access. Uninstall it in Safe Mode and reboot your Mac.

  • Reinstall macOS – There are times when an issue like “critical software update” signals a more serious problem, so the best move to make is to entirely reinstall macOS. Don’t worry, though, as you should be able to keep your saved data safe from deletion.

Since this process will take a while, initiate the process only when your Mac is connected to a power supply and you don’t need to use your computer right away. Here are steps to follow:

  1. Turn on your Mac by holding down the Command + R keys, which will launch the macOS Utilities window.
  2. Select Reinstall macOS.
  3. Once prompted, choose Continue and then follow the instructions for reinstallation.
  • Take Your Mac to the Experts – If nothing seems to work, perhaps it’s time to take the issue to the experts and contact your local Apple Store. This way, a professional can check your Mac and see if it’s an internal issue that’s taking place. These people can make a proper diagnosis and you can simply wait to retrieve your Mac after a few days at the shop.

Final Notes

The critical software problem issue on Mac is a total nuisance, and we know you don’t have the time, energy, and sometimes complete know-how to solve it. We then hope one of the fixes we presented above gets the job done before you do a full wipe of your computer.

Of course, don’t forget to clean your Mac, get rid of junk files, and optimize it for top performance using a reliable third-party Mac repair tool. Proper diagnosis, after all, is half the cure.

Have you ever come across this problem? How did you get your Mac back in tiptop shape? Let us know in the comments!

1 thought on “Critical Software Update on Mac: 5 Ways to Fix It
  1. Paul Campbell
    Paul Campbell
    October 9, 2021, 9:47 PM

    Just had that problem. Tried most of what other folks have. What finally worked was reinstalling Catalina from installer on memory stick.

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