How to ... update my software

Keeping your software up to date can help protect your devices - and your data

Software updates for our devices may be tiresome, but they’re a necessary part of keeping our smartphones, tablets and laptops safe from intruders.

It may be tempting to skip the updates, or delay them as long as possible amid fears that the new software may affect how we use our devices, but there are good reasons to keep on top of things and install the updates as soon as possible. Top of that list? Security. These regular updates often patch potential security flaws in our smartphones and other mobile devices; skipping or delaying the updates could put your data at risk.

The latest warning has come from Apple, which issued an update for its iPhones, iPads and Macs among reports of serious security vulnerabilities that could potentially allow attackers to take complete control of the affected devices. Those devices include the iPhones 6S and later models, several versions of the iPad, including the fifth generation launched in 2017 and newer, all iPad Pro models and the iPad Air 2, and Mac computers running the MacOS Monterey software launched last year.

But how do you check if your device is up to date? The procedure varies depending on what device and operating system you are using.


iOS and iPadOS:

On Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPad Touches, go to Settings>General>Software Update. If there is an update available, you will have the option to download and install it here.

You can also turn on automatic updates, which will allow your device to install the newest version of the software as it becomes available. You will be notified of the update, and the system will install the new software overnight, while the device is connected to both wifi and a power source.


The Android system is a little different from Apple’s mobile software. Each manufacturer can customise the software with their own user interface, and because of that, the availability of operating system updates varies according to the manufacturer of the phone. For example, Google’s own Pixel phones are in the process of getting the update to Android 13, the latest version of the Android operating system. Samsung is testing its software, known as One UI 5, but there is no date yet for its release to consumers. Oppo has started pushing out its ColorOS 13 update to the Find X5 Pro and Find X5, with other phones to follow next year.

However, security updates are pushed out regularly, and you may miss the notification, so it is worth checking in regularly just to be sure.

To check if any updates are available, go to Settings>System>System Update. If there is a newer version of your software available, it will show up there.


MacOS Monterey is one of the affected operating systems Apple for which has issued security updates. Those on MacOS Mojave or later, will find software updates in the Apple Menu>System Preferences>Software Update.

To install updates automatically as they become available, go to the Apple Menu >System Preferences>Software Update, and select Automatically keep my Mac up to date. You can exert further control over this process by clicking into the advanced options. There, you can have your Mac check for updates automatically, download updates without asking, and install macOS updates automatically, or install system files and security updates automatically. At the very least, Apple recommends allowing automatic checking for updates, downloading new updates when available, and installing system data files and security updates.

As with the iPhone and iPad, MacBooks must have the power adapter plugged in to automatically download updates.


The blue update screen on Windows is a familiar sight. Windows 10 and 11 automatically installs updates for you by default. And it occasionally happens at times that are inconvenient, such as just before an important video call. There are steps you can take to prevent that from happening though.

First, to check if there are important updates for your system, click on the menu, Settings> Updates and Security. You can manually check for updates, pause them for a set period of time, or choose to install the optional updates that may be available for your system.

But what if you want to avoid the inconvenient update timing mentioned above, you simply need to set your active hours in the Updates menu. By doing so, you are telling the system that you use your device between those hours, and it will avoid installing updates and temporarily disabling your system.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist