mac OS Big Sur - softwareupdate (Software Update) "frozen" or not working - no update(s) shown

Resolving the problem in which 'softwareupdate' (Software Update) doesn't show a(ny) known available update(s)

There is a known issue in which a Mac running mac OS Big Sur (aka "mac OS 11") softwareupdate will not show any updates, including ones that are known to be available and needed for a given computer.

When you look at the running processes, you'll note that there is an existing softwareupdate process listed, which may have been active for a day or longer.

Manually launching Software Update (in the GUI) or using the softwareupdate command, will simply sit and never return anything about available updates.

What I've found to help get past this, without requiring a reboot is to use the following commands via the Terminal (or remotely via ssh):

sudo /bin/launchctl disable system/

# wait several seconds

sudo /bin/launchctl enable system/

# wait several seconds

sudo /bin/launchctl kickstart -k system/

And - hopefully - you 'll find the problem resolved, as I did.

We look forward to helping you manage and maintain your Mac laptop & desktop fleet and services, and keeping all of your tech working for you.

Published Mar. 17th, 2022 by David Haines,
(413) 584-5115

Background header image for this post by Joy Real on Unsplash