I admit it. My Mac has too much software. Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and probably 100 other applications and utilities.
Mac software is supposed to make my life easier, better, more efficient, more productive, more fun. Managing all those software updates has become a pain. I suspect that I’m not alone in my grief.
Processing and maintenance time has increased substantially on my Mac in the past year. The time required to download and install and maintain Mac software updates has increased, as has the frequency of software updates from every publisher.
I have only myself to blame for my desire to blend efficiency, productivity, and enjoyment into my Mac lifestyle.
Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2 is the largest update ever for Apple, but, so far, it’s been the best ever. It fixed a number of nagging little issues on all my Macs and added some much needed little touches (Dock Stacks, Menu Bar, Time Machine, etc).
However, this upgrade also caused a flurry of updates from 3rd party Mac application and utility developers which continues today. One by one, each of the 100 plus applications on my Mac will get an update in the next few weeks. Managing and maintaining such updates takes time and effort.
Is there a better way?
Apple actually helps with Software Update. I set mine to download in the background, and notify me of the update, but I’m usually so much involved in all things Mac that I know about the updates when they happen, and look forward to seeing what’s new, what gets fixed, and so on. I’m like a junky looking for a new fix.
For the most part, Apple’s software updates are painless, though increasing in frequency.
Adobe has their own update system for the various Creative Suite packages. Sometimes I hate Adobe for their crass and arrogant desire to be different from Apple.
Adobe’s updater seems to launch half a dozen utilities to download and install a software update or patch, with a flurry of dialog boxes, and jumping icons in the Dock. At least Apple’s updates start when I want them to, and notify me when they’re done and nothing in between.
Microsoft’s updates fall somewhere in between. They’re not as frequent as Apple or Adobe, but come often enough to be annoying, though often necessary.
It’s the dozens of 3rd party Mac applications and software that’s getting me down. Did I say dozens? Yes. As in about eight of them. I used the update software from MacUpdate and VersionTracker for awhile. Both have utilities which track software updates and match them against the latest versions on your Mac.
There’s a problem, though, and it has to do with exception. Invariably, both utilities would inform be of an update that was the same as what was already on my Mac, or tell me of beta updates, which I don’t care to download and install, or, just get a version number wrong, thereby informing me that I needed an update when I didn’t, or that I didn’t need an update when I did.
So, the exception processing and maintenance time increased by using tools that were supposed to help me save time with updating Mac software.
Late last year Alexis turned us on to a free utility called AppFresh which sorta kinda mostly does the same thing as those from MacUpdate and VersionTracker.
AppFresh scans your Mac for applications and utilities, even Widgets and System Preferences utilities, and compares the version numbers to the latest updates from the software publisher. It works. Mostly. Again, there’s additional processing and maintenance time required to handle the exceptions, which always exist.
Many Mac software publishers have their own Check for Updates feature built in. When you open the application or utility it automatically checks home base to see if you’re running the latest version. If you’re not, you get a little dialog box to tell you to update. Those pop up dialog boxes increase regularly for a month following a major update from Apple on OS X, such as this week’s 10.5.2.
I don’t see an easy or acceptable solution to this dilemma. Yet. Apple’s Software Update works the best, but is also limited to their more frequent update schedule and limited software. I want a software maintenance solution that does NOT increase my processing and maintenance time to manage the updates. I don’t have one. Yet.