10:51 am

MacMost Now 266: Keeping Third-Party Applications Updated

It is important to keep your third-party non-Apple applications updated so they are stable and you have the latest features. Often you have to manually check your version against the version at the Web site and carefully follow update instructions.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi. This is Gary with MacMost Now. In today’s episode, let’s talk about keeping your third party applications up-to-date.
So your system and all your app applications are kept up-to-date using software update which runs as a process in Mac OS 10. So you don’t have to worry about that. You’ll be updated when updates are available and you’ll be able to update them using that interface.
But third party applications are a different story. Third party applications are something that you’ve got to maintain yourself. Now, some of them provide some level of support for updates and others provide no support at all. Let’s go and take a look at all the different options so you can keep your third party applications up-to-date.
There are many different ways that third party software looks for updates. For instance, when you launch Cyberduck it immediately checks to see whether or not there’s an update at their site and will bring up this box here and lets you install it. Now, sometimes it doesn’t happen. You actually have to go to the menu and look for a “check for update” option. You can look in the main menu for that application. Sometimes it’s under “help” or some other menu as well.
Now in other cases, like for audacity, the audio editor, there isn’t a “check for update” option anywhere to be found. In these cases, we want to look at the “about” box for two things. First of all a website that you can go to and check for the latest version and also the version number for audacity.
Now, in this case it’s an extreme because there is no “about” box. So you neither now where to get an update nor what version that you’ve got. But you can usually solve that by actually going to the “finder”, looking at the file and under the “preview” here in column view, or by hitting “Command i” to get info, you can go ahead and find out the version that you’ve got. So it’s 1.2.5. Then you can go to the internet, do a search for audacity which then quickly brings up the home page for it. And you can see here that there’s a new current version, 1.2.6a so I should download that and install it to replace the older version I’ve got.
Now I find there’s usually three different types of updates. There’s the type of update that install inside the application, like Cyberduck was starting to do. And it would actually install a new version while the application is running and you’ll instantly be updated. Sometimes you have to restart the app. Another type of installation is when you actually have to download an installer. And you’re simply left with an installer file in your downloads folder on your desktop. In those cases, you have to go ahead and find that installer and run it to update the application.
A third type is when you download a completely new application. So it tells you that a new version’s available. You download it and it’s basically a completely new version that you have to replace the older version with.
So don’t assume just because you’ve downloaded a third party update that it’s actually installed. Make sure you look for and run the installer. And then when you’re done verify that it actually has a new version number by looking at the “about” box or looking at information for the file in your applications folder.
Now a great resource for keeping your third party apps up-to-date is Version Tracker. Go to Version Tracker.com and you can search for an application that you’re using. And go ahead and take a look there and it will tell you the most recent version of it and it takes you to a page of information about it. Now be careful, because in cases this like it’s telling you that 1.3.7 is the most recent version and indeed, it is except that the license is a beta license. So you want to be careful there because you may not want the beta, you may want the most stable release. But in those cases, you can just simply click on the link to the developers’ site and get all the information there.
Now, it’s worth talking about why it’s important to keep your third party applications up-to-date. After all, you may have an older version that works perfectly fine for what you need and is completely stable and you see no reason to update. But there sometimes are hidden reasons to update. You have to remember that just because you’ve kept your application standing still doesn’t mean the rest of the world has stood still. You’ve gotten new versions of Mac OS 10 with updates to things like QuickTime and components and networking. And the third party application may need to be updated to keep pace with those so it doesn’t suddenly become unstable.
Another thing you have to consider is the rest of the world updates as well. So for instance, if an application is actually contacting third party websites to get updates for news, say like rss readers, things like that, then sometimes those updates are necessary in order for it to continue to function as it always has. So it’s important to keep your applications up-to-date.
Sometimes you have to pay for updates. The standard is major revision updates usually have a cost to it. So for instance, from version 2.0 to 2.2 of some software it’s usually free. But then go from 2.2 to 3.0, you have to pay an upgrade fee. Usually it’s just about half or some fraction of the full price.
Now it’s important to do this because you have to realize that small third party developers cannot keep updating older versions of their products. So for instance when you go from Tiger to Leopard or Leopard to Snow Leopard and they update their products they’re not going to update version 1, version 2 and version 3 all for Snow Leopard. They’re only going to update the most recent version otherwise, it’s going to drive up the cost of software. So it’s worth it to you for stability and also to get the latest cool features from your third party software to keep up with the updates. And it’s also great to support these third party developers as well.
So I hope you found this useful. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 2 Responses to “MacMost Now 266: Keeping Third-Party Applications Updated”

    Rabeeh Zakaria
    7/15/09 @ 11:42 am

    Hi Gary, Great tutorial as usual

    To update my 3rd party software, I use a widget call App Update. It checks versiontracker.com / apple.com and macupdate.com for the latest versions of the software and when it finds an updated version, it notifies me and gives me the option to download them.


    Quite useful :)

    7/16/09 @ 1:42 pm

    Since I disabled the Dashboard, I use AppFresh http://metaquark.de/appfresh/ It works great.

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