There are many ways to get updates of Mac applications. Apple’s Software Update is one. Two others are MacUpdate and VersionTracker. Here’s my view of both and January’s bonus offer. It’s free.
Trust me. I have a lot of Mac applications on my Mac and it’s a challenge to keep track of them all. Checking out new applications is fun. Keeping valued applications updated is not.
Both are good at listing the latest updates of Mac applications each day. Both have a running list and a good search function. Both allow for reader reviews and comments so you can read what others thing of different Mac apps.
Both have Mac applications which compare the software on your Mac with the latest versions from the developers. That can save lots of time and keep your software up to date without you having to check each and every application.
There are a few substantial differences between MacUpdate and VersionTracker. I use both, though I prefer MacUpdate. Why? Focus.
MacUpdate is Mac only. VersionTracker covers Windows, too (and Palm). Both MacUpdate and VersionTracker’s applications track what’s on your Mac, though I prefer MacUpdate.
MacUpdate is a manual operation which updates 24 hours a day. When I was on the East Coast, new updates were there when I woke up. When I lived in Hawaii, new updates were there late at night.
Both sites give you links to download applications. Both sites have search functions. MacUpdate’s search resuls are usually more accurate and much faster. In fact, page loads are almost always faster with MacUpdate.
MacUpdate is easier to navigate than VersionTracker (though neither is particularly difficult. Ads are crucial to a Mac site’s ability to stay in business and operate.
MacUpdate allows a one-click download of the application you want. VersionTracker sends you to a “download page” which means one extra click. And a bunch more ads. Ads are OK, but another page just for the sake of ads is too much.
Detail. MacUpdate seems to come up with more information about the Mac application; screenshots, developer’s home page link, product details, price, more often than VersionTracker.
Both sites have gone through redesigns in the past few months. MacUpdate’s is very good and more user friendly. The information you really need is easier to get to and easier to read.
For example, I usually like to check out the developer’s web page. Try finding that link on VersionTracker.
Both site’s have a membership service; extra support to track Mac applications to keep your Mac up to date. MacUpdate is $20. VersionTracker is $49.95 to $79.95, but covers multiple Macs.
For January, MacUpdate is giving away a free one year membership. Since it’s free, and the service is good, I recommend that you give it a try. VersionTracker has a free 14-day trial. Try that one, too, and compare.
Both services let you make “watch lists” of the applications on your Mac. There’s also email alerts from each. Again, this is part of the “paid” service, though I find both to be very helpful, though it’s possible my Mac has a few more appllications than yours.
Both MacUpdate and VersionTracker Pro have a Dashboard Widget which makes it easier to keep track of what’s new and what Mac applications on your Mac need to be upgraded. There’s also a pull down menu for the Mac menu bar in MacUpdate. I’ve not tried that as I have twenty gazillion menu bar items already.
The efforts of both VersionTracker and MacUpdate are to be commended. It’s not easy keeping track of all the new and updated Mac applications.
When you hear Windows users say, “There’s no software for the Mac.” Take them to either site. I’ve been doing PCs and Macs (Unix and Linux, too) for over 25 years and I can’t keep track of all the Mac applications.
There’s plenty of applications for the Mac. The trouble is finding them, trying them, keeping track of them. MacUpdate and VersionTracker do that very well.
My preference is MacUpdate. For now.
Faster page loads, better navigation and layout (gets info I want, quickly), fewer clicks for downloads and developer site information, and a better Mac tracking application.
That said, both the applications that reside on your Mac and let you compare what’s on your Mac with the latest need improvement. Only about 80-percent of the many applications on my Mac show up on either, and sometimes with clearly wrong information.
Tracking that kind of data is not trivial. But in a paid service you expect those details to not show up as obvious problems. For example, some of Apple’s applications show up, some don’t (hello? Logic Express should be there).
There’s also a problem with both applications trying to figure out the version on your Mac and comparing it with the latest version number in their databases. Again, it’s not a trivial exercise, but if I pay money, I should get something higher than 80-percent effective rate.
Basically, both check your Mac and list all your applications. Then they compare that list with their list and show you the differences. That’s very helpful and big time saver. Time is money.
What it boils down to is this: if you have more than just Apple’s applications on your Mac, then you need a way to keep track of what you have and get it compared to the latest (whether you upgrade to the latest right away, or do it in batches is up to you).
Both VersionTracker Pro and MacUpdate do that, and with a good degree of success. MacUpdate does it better for the applications on my Mac, though your mileage may vary. VersionTracker Pro is a bit more thorough.
I prefer VersionTracker, though I don’t like the extra clicks to get to the downloads or to find the developer’s web site link.
I use both. MacUpdate is faster. I need both because I have to scour around to find those ‘low end gems.’ I have a reputation to keep up.
Jack D. Miller
I use MacUpdate, but visit VersionTracker from time to time. VersionTracker seems to get the updates a bit faster than MacUpdate, though both are thorough.