A Critical Software Update Is Required for Your Mac, but an Error Was Encountered While Installing This Update

Oh the dreaded Mac error message that single handedly made me despise Apple: A Critical Software Update Is Required for Your Mac, but an Error Was Encountered While Installing This Update. 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:

  1. Shut Down
  2. 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.

  1. Connect to another Wi-Fi network and try again
  2. Connect to the internet via ethernet in Other Network Options and try again
  3. Boot into Safe Mode and check for updates: reboot and hold Shift
  4. Reset NVRAM on your Mac
  5. Reinstall macOS via Recovery Mode: reboot and hold Command + R
  6. Reinstall macOS via Internet Recover Mode: reboot and hold Command + Option + R
  7. 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.

MacBook Pro replace logic board AppleCare service summary

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.

20 thoughts on “A Critical Software Update Is Required for Your Mac, but an Error Was Encountered While Installing This Update”

  1. Just happened to me this morning…in Germany. 🙁 Apple support spent a good bit of time trying to figure out if it was a software or app update but it doesn’t appear to be so. I have to use in safe mode until Apple store appointment on Tuesday.

  2. Same here. I got into this problem this morning. After all the long calls and heartful advices with Apple Care (for 6+ hours), every solutions exactly same with your list failed. Totally frustrated.
    Well, at least now I feel little bit relieved from the fact there are other people like me. 😀
    I cannot believe how $2500+ machine can break like this and just shows me such unhelpful messages again and again.
    I should visit Apple Store tomorrow morning.
    Disappointed to Apple again. 🙁

  3. I’m going through this issue right now like I’m so pissed . Firstly a hot water was mistakenly spilled on my system last night then after few minutes my system shutdown and shows this issue .

  4. Having this issue now. We’re all of your files that we’re saved to your MacBook still there after repair? I have some very important files saved to my internal hard drive and I’m afraid they’ll be wiped out when I send it in to be fixed!

    • My files were lost when I reformatted my hard drive before taking it to Apple. Apple will let you know if they plan to wipe your drive and perhaps do a backup for you. Good luck!

  5. Got the same. Nothing helped. Motherboard should be changed, but it’s not under warranty anymore… So I’ll switch to something without Apple logo.

    For those who want to save files:

    1. Boot to the Safe Mode (reboot and hold Shift) and do the backup (helped to one of my colleagues, that had the same problem)


    2. Boot to the Command Line Mode (reboot and hold S), connect USB Drive, mount the drive (google knows the commands to do it), and copy your files manually (helped to me, and it was very long story)

  6. I am 99% sure that not an hardware. I got this message after update to latest 14.14.5 mac os. 2 days i spent to all the ways to fix it and google. It needs to reinstall some kind of touch bar os. Then I brought my laptop to apple tech service and they charged me 900$ motherboard replacement, i said no, then brought laptop to home, rebooted it couple times and got just working laptop. Unfortunately after restoring my backup the problem is came back. But i got the working laptop after motherboard replacement diagnostics. We need an official commentary from apple

  7. You have been had. Another Apple scam, bugged software, selling faulty hardware, and charging the clients twice. Apple bugged this with their last OS update, now forcing you to replace the faulty hardware they sold you at your expense. Enjoy the crooks.

  8. I had this issue yesterday. I was worried I would need to send in my MacBook Pro in for service but luckily I was able to resolve the issue by reinstalling macOS via Recovery Mode.

  9. Same issue here,

    Turns out when I unplug my external monitor that is connected with USB-C I don’t get the critical update msg and boots fine.

    Does anyone know how to fix this issue?

  10. Same issue, it only happens if I have an external monitor connected via USB-C. I have two connected, not sure if it happens with only one or two monitors.

    Did you every resolve the issue?

  11. 2016 MBP w/ Touch Bar, Catalina. Problem probably caused by shutting down machine while it was downloading a system update. Tried lots of what other folks recommend. What finally worked was to reinstall Catalina from a bootable installer on a memory stick.

  12. Same issue. I got it since December 2021. Cannot fix it. Now I am using ‘a safe mode’ for macbook pro 2017. No warranty. It is expensive. Do not khow what to do. It is frustrating. I hope Apple could address this issue.

  13. We had this problem right now, and unplugging the external monitor resolved the issue, the Mac rebooted fine. The problem was caused probably by the computer running out of battery and shutting down – possibly while downloading an update.


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