How do you keep the apps on your Mac up to date? Easy question. Easy answers. Most of us wait for an alert from a software update utility. Apple has one in System Preferences. Both Adobe and Microsoft use a software update tool.
What about all the rest of the apps, utilities, and games on your Mac? Here are the four top ways to keep your Mac’s apps up to date. It’s all point and click. Some just have more clicks than others.
#4 – Up To Date The Hard Way
Keeping your Mac’s apps up to date isn’t difficult. Mostly. Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft make it easy. So do most Mac applications.
Every now and then you’ll get a pop up reminder that such-and-such app has a new version.
The reminders usually come with a button to click and download the latest update. Some apps will even download, install the update, then restart the app.
The only real problem is that the whole process is hit or miss. And, it’s manual—on a per app basis. What if your Mac is loaded with 20 or 30 or 50 additional Mac apps, tools, and utilities (click on any image for a larger, pop up view)?
Yes, Apple’s (and Adobe and Microsoft) Software Update is good, but, is there an easier way?
#3 – VersionTracker Pro
This one isn’t my favorite, but it is worth a look. VersionTracker is a site which tracks software updates for Macs, Windows, Palm, and iPhone.
VersionTracker Pro is an app which automatically scans your Mac’s software, then checks the versions agains the VersionTracker database of updates, and lets you know what needs to be updated.
The app is easy to use. Install, double-click, wait a few minutes. The app is easy to use. The left column lists which apps have updates, a Watch folder, Alerts, and a search option. The right column lists all your apps, your current version, the latest version, and other details, including an option to download and install the latest versions.
Why isn’t VersionTracker my favorite Mac software update tool? First, you only get one free scan of your Mac. Then, the $50 price tag only lets you scan on three Macs.
My experience with VersionTracker is less than stellar, especially since they were bought out by CNET a few years ago. Some scans list the wrong version number, sometimes the latest app version is out of date.
Still, VersionTracker Pro is one way to avoid the manual process, though the price tag should give you an incentive to continue looking.
#2 – AppFresh
Keeping your Mac’s software updated would seem to be laborious or expensive. Enter AppFresh, a nifty Mac utility that does much of what VersionTracker does, but without a price tag (for now).
AppFresh scans your Mac’s software, checks the version numbers against an online database, and lets you know what needs to be updated. The interface is simple and straightforward, and comes with more options than VersionTracker Pro.
AppFresh will check your Mac’s 3rd party apps, as well as software from Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft. Also included in the check are System Preference Panes, Dashboard Widgets, and Plugins.
Versions are checked against the software tracking site I Use This, which also tracks Windows and iPhone software. My nits include a much slower scan than my favorite, and versions are not always updated. Otherwise, you get more than you pay for with AppFresh.
#1 – MacUpdate Desktop
My favorite Mac software update tool would have to be an app that’s fast, and makes it easy to download and install updates. That’s what MacUpdate Desktop does. It’s the fastest scan, and comes with just the right options to make software updates and easy process.
The left column lists your Macs apps, including Preference Panes, Dashboard Widgets, and Applications. The center column contains a simple toolbar which highlights All, Outdated, or Up-To-Date apps. Any apps that need to be updated are in red text.
What I really like about MacUpdate Desktop is the quick download and install option. Multiple downloads, multiple installations, and the downloads are saved to a folder in your Mac’s downloads folder. It also scans and checks Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft apps.
MacUpdate Desktop has a single negative, and that’s the price tag, though it’s far less than VersionTracker.
The app has improved much over the past year—such that all my Mac’s software stays up to date more frequently (I run it once or twice a week), and MacUpdate’s version tracking seems to be the fastest of the three major trackers. We run MacUpdate Desktop on all our Macs.
At this point, what you need is a clear cut idea of exactly how a software update utility should work. Fortunately, the developers at MacUpdate provide a number of videos to walk you through what is arguably a drop-dead simple step-by-step process already.