Oh the dreaded Mac error message that singlehandedly made me despise Apple. It took me years to switch over from Windows to Apple, but that was all crushed when I got this error message on my 7 month old MacBook Pro when traveling abroad in Peru.
A Critical Software Update is Required for Your Mac
Here’s the situation: when you turn on your MacBook, even before it gets to your desktop, you’ll get the following message.
A critical software update is required for your Mac. To install this update you need to connect to a network. Select a Wi-Fi network below, or click Other Network Options to connect to the Internet using other network devices.
No big deal, you think. Let’s just hop onto a Wi-Fi network and install the update. But after doing so, you get another puzzling error message.
A critical software update is required for your Mac, but an error was encountered while installing this update.
At this point, there are only two options:
- Shut Down
- Try Again
Well, we don’t want to Shut Down, so I guess let’s Try Again. A minute or so later, the same error message pops up. Try Again again? Same thing. It’s official, your MacBook Pro is stuck in an infinite update loop.
Steps to Try and Fix It
My research tells me that sometimes this issue can be resolved by reinstalling macOS in recovery mode, but that was unfortunately not the case for me. Ultimately, I had to take my MacBook Pro to an Apple store and have the Logic Board replaced, but we’ll get into that later.
Here are some troubleshooting steps I took to try and fix the critical software update issue. Although none of these worked for me, they might work for you if your issue is slightly different than mine.
- Connect to another Wi-Fi network and try again
- Connect to the internet via ethernet in Other Network Options and try again
- Boot into Safe Mode and check for updates: reboot and hold Shift
- Reset NVRAM on your Mac
- Reinstall macOS via Recovery Mode: reboot and hold Command + R
- Reinstall macOS via Internet Recover Mode: reboot and hold Command + Option + R
- Last resort: wipe disk with Disk Utility and reinstall macOS
Like I said, none of these solutions worked for me, but your mileage may vary.
The Only Solution That Worked for Me
Unfortunately, I got the “critical software update is required for your mac” when I was traveling outside of the US in South America where there are no Apple Stores. I spent a good five hours on the phone with Apple in the US trying to find a solution, but was unsuccessful. I had to lug around my useless MacBook Pro for three more weeks before I could take it to an Apple store in the United States.
At the Apple Store in the US, they ran some basic diagnostic tests. After an hour, I was told they needed to keep my laptop for further extensive diagnostics that would take three days alone. My frustration must’ve been evident, because the guy helping me at the Genius Bar went back to the “lead genius” for advice. Ultimately, they decided to skip the extensive diagnostics, figuring it was a hardware issue, and sent my MacBook Pro directly to an Apple service center to be repaired. They estimated 11 days before I’d have my MacBook Pro fixed and shipped to my home address.
To my delight, my fixed MacBook Pro arrived to my house via FedEx just three days later. As you can see by the AppleCare Service Product Service Summary above, they had to replace the Logic Board. Thank goodness that my MacBook was still under warranty because otherwise I would have had to pay hundreds of dollars to have it fixed.
Misleading Error Message
Talk about a misleading error message. Was there really a critical software update? Perhaps there was. In any case, there was a major hardware issue. Major enough that the entire motherboard needed to be replaced.
Replacing a motherboard, which is essentially the brains, heart, and nervous system of the computer, is a major surgery. In my opinion, I got a brand new computer, just in the same shell as before. However, the AppleCare repair summary did say that the logic board might be refurbished.
In any case, I hope that you never run into the Critical Software Update issue on you MacBook Pro. The fact that you’re here tells me that you may be having this issue. Assuming you’re in the US, my recommendation is to make an appointment with your nearest Apple store to have it fixed.
If you do in fact have this issue, please share your experience in the comments below. I’d love to know if you were able to fix it without going to the Apple store.