How to Fix macOS “Installation failed, An error occurred while installing the selected updates”

Recently, some Mac users have reported that they ran into an error when trying to download and install software updates. Specifically, an alert that says “Installation failed, an error occurred while installing the selected updates” will show up when they attempting to update the operating system and prevent any further actions. If you are one of these users that have been affected by this issue, it can be quite frustrating. Don’t worry, we got you covered. In this article, we will guide you on how to fix the installation failed error on macOS.


According to users, the “Installation failed, An error occurred while installing the selected updates”  will show up in the Software Update window of the system preference panel. Users have encountered this issue in most of the macOS versions, including macOS Big Sur, Catalina, and Mojave. 

Here is how this alert looks like in macOS Big Sur:

Fix macOS Installation failed error

And here is how it looks like in macOS Catalina and earlier version:

Fix macOS Installation failed error

How To Fix The Installation Failed Error on macOS

Currently, there’s no exact cause for this error. It might come from software conflicts, sever issues, internet issues, and more. Therefore, we will go through multiple troubleshooting methods to help you deal with this error.

We’ll also provide an alternate way to download macOS updates if the System Preference panel for Software Update is repeatedly showing failure errors.

Try Downloading The Update at Another Time

Sometimes Apple’s servers may be overloaded due to the number of users trying to get the new update. As a result, you might encounter failures to download and install a new version of macOS.  This often happens if the update you want is brand new. For instance, a lot of users ran into the installation failed error when BigSur launched.

In this case, you should wait for some hours or a few days to let the

Reboot Your Mac

Like any other tech product, rebooting your Mac can solve some software related issues. There may be a chance that it will resolve the failed installation error as well. So why don’t you give it a try?

Make Sure Your Mac Is Online

Some users reported that they got the installation failed error when there is an interruption in their internet service. Therefore, you should make sure your Mac is connecting to the internet and is online. To check this, simply open Safari and go to different websites and make sure they load and work as expected.

You can check out our guide on troubleshooting macOS network issues here for other methods to make sure your Mac is online

Make Sure Your macOS is Not Enrolled in Beta Updates

In the case that you are trying to download a final/official version of macOS but nothing works, there’s a chance that you may be enrolled in the beta program. Several users have experienced this before. Accordingly, they found out that unenrolling from the beta will fix the Installation Failed error.

To do so:

  • Go to System Preferences and select the Software Update icon
  • Click the “Details…” button below ‘This Mac is enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program.’
  • A confirmation alert will show up. Select “Restore Defaults” to unenroll from receiving Mac beta updates.

Try downloading the macOS installers directly

If the issue persists and you keep getting the installation failed alert in Software Update, you can try downloading the macOS installers directly. There are couple of ways to do so.

The simplest way to download a macOS installer directly is using the App Store or direct link from Apple. You can get the links for older macOS versions from this Apple’s post. Meanwhile, you can download macOS Big Sur directly from the App Store.

Alternatively, you can download a full macOS installer directly with a Terminal command line. Everything you need to do is:

  • Open Terminal
  • Insert the command line: softwareupdate –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version **.**.*
    You need to replace the **.**.* in this command line with the macOS version you want to download. For example, you can change it to 10.15 to get macOS Catalina
  • Hit return to download the installer
Fix macOS Installation failed error

In both methods, you will find the macOS installer in the /Applications directory. Now you will be able to install it directly without experiencing the ‘installation failed’ error as you see it only in System Preferences.

There you go, now you have our guide on how to fix the “Installation failed, an error occurred while installing the selected updates.” error on macOS. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments!

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