Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

This Week's Sponsor

Save 20% on the award-winning Audio Hijack with coupon code 6C20AH!

By Dan Moren

Solving the mystery of missing OS X El Capitan Beta updates

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Playing with betas is always a risky game, but earlier this week I noticed that while everybody online was talking about a new version of the OS X El Capitan beta, no such update was appearing in my version of the Mac App Store. I tried repeated quitting and relaunching of the Mac App Store app and even a few restarts to no avail, and eventually took to Twitter to see if anybody else had run into a similar issue.

Lo and behold, they had. And Twitter follower Pavan Rajam uncovered a suggestion for me on the Apple developer boards:

There may be a better solution to this problem (If it works for you then it’s certainly preferable to having to continually having to update from links):

sudo softwareupdate —set-catalog

The above command should set the update catalog correctly (something that doesn’t seem to be happening automatically for some).

I fired up Terminal, pasted in the command, entered my administrator password, and relaunched the Mac App Store. Sure enough, the subsequent beta was waiting for me.1

My understanding is that this simply manually points the software update mechanism to a specific “feed” of updates. If you’re concerned about what this might mean in the long run, the help page for softwareupdate says you can reset to defaults by using the command softwareupdate —clear-catalog.

As always, running beta software is purely an “at your own risk” endeavor, but hopefully this will help make sure you at least get all the updates you need.

  1. It actually turned out I was two releases behind, but I had to update to the third beta before the fourth would show up. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

If you appreciate articles like this one, support us by becoming a Six Colors subscriber. Subscribers get access to an exclusive podcast, members-only stories, and a special community.

Search Six Colors