You know the routine: You start up a favorite app, and it displays a notice saying that a new version is available. You can download it now, and tap your fingers on the desk waiting for the new version to install, or you can dismiss the notice and go through the same routine next time. What you need instead of this time-wasting routine is an app that updates your other apps for you—and also updates apps that don’t alert you when a new version is available. MacUpdate Desktop ($20 per year) is by far the best of the updating apps out there, and it’s the one I rely on. I especially rely on it when Apple is about to release a new OS X version, because the only way to have a smooth update is to have all your apps ready for the new OS.
How it Works
MacUpdate Desktop works with MacUpdate.com, a website that tracks updates of thousands of Mac apps. Anyone can visit MacUpdate.com and search, download, and install the latest version of an app, but the MacUpdate Desktop app does the whole job automatically, if you pay an annual $20 subscription. At regular intervals the app scans your disk for apps, widgets, preference panes, screen savers, and plug-ins, and alerts you to any available updates—and it optionally uses OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion’s notifications area in addition to its own interface. Click on its list of updated apps, and MacUpdate Desktop downloads and—for most but not all apps—installs the update for you.
Interface and Interaction
The app’s interface has a left-hand sidebar with separate icons that let you select applications, widgets, screen savers, preference panes, and plug-ins. The right-hand side has two panes, the top one listing applications, the bottom one with details from the MacUpdate Desktop web site about the app selected in the top pane. A “Download and Install” button in the lower pane does exactly what the button says it does.
Alternatively, you can Ctrl-click the app in the list in the top pane and select various options from a menu. These options let you fine-tune MacUpdate Desktop’s handling of any individual application, which you’ll need to do if, for example, you don’t want to buy the new version of a specific app and you want MacUpdate Desktop to stop reminding you that the new version exists. I also sometimes need to use this menu to tell MacUpdate Desktop that an application is up to date when—as sometimes happens—MacUpdate thinks you have an earlier version. This typically happens if the application’s version number is formatted in a different way from the version number in MacUpdate.com’s database, for example, if one number includes a build number and the other doesn’t. This is a minor annoyance that afflicts only a very few applications.
I use MacUpdate with its default settings, which makes it check for updates to every app on my disk. But you might prefer the option to create one or more “watch lists” of apps that you want the program to update for you. You can fine-tune this option so that the app sends you an e-mail when an app on your watch list gets updated, so you don’t have to wait for the update until MacUpdate Desktop runs one of its regular checks for updates—which it does by default once every week.
MacUpdate Desktop isn’t perfect. It can’t install updates from the App Store, which isn’t a major inconvenience because the App Store handles updates by itself. It sometimes downloads an update but then can’t install it, so you have to update it manually. Inevitably, it doesn’t find updates for some applications because the vendor doesn’t list it on the MacUpdate.com website. But it works well enough for me to spend twenty bucks a year on it, knowing that it keeps almost all the apps on my Mac up to date for me. There’s a free alternative, CNET Tech Tracker but it’s much less flexible and powerful and, on my system at least, produces too many “false positives”—reports that apps need updating when in fact I’ve got the current version. If, like me, you keep a lot of apps on your Mac, MacUpdate Desktop is an app you won’t regret buying.
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|OS Compatibility||Mac OS|
|Type||Business, Personal, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc