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
Hi. This is Gary with MacMost Now. In todayís episode, letís 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 donít have to worry about that. Youíll be updated when updates are available and youíll be able to update them using that interface.
But third party applications are a different story. Third party applications are something that youíve got to maintain yourself. Now, some of them provide some level of support for updates and others provide no support at all. Letís 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 thereís an update at their site and will bring up this box here and lets you install it. Now, sometimes it doesnít happen. You actually have to go to the menu and look for a ďcheck for updateĒ option. You can look in the main menu for that application. Sometimes itís under ďhelpĒ or some other menu as well.
Now in other cases, like for audacity, the audio editor, there isnít a ďcheck for updateĒ option anywhere to be found. In these cases, we want to look at the ďaboutĒ 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 itís an extreme because there is no ďaboutĒ box. So you neither now where to get an update nor what version that youíve got. But you can usually solve that by actually going to the ďfinderĒ, looking at the file and under the ďpreviewĒ here in column view, or by hitting ďCommand iĒ to get info, you can go ahead and find out the version that youíve got. So itís 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 thereís a new current version, 1.2.6a so I should download that and install it to replace the older version Iíve got.
Now I find thereís usually three different types of updates. Thereís 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 youíll instantly be updated. Sometimes you have to restart the app. Another type of installation is when you actually have to download an installer. And youíre 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 versionís available. You download it and itís basically a completely new version that you have to replace the older version with.
So donít assume just because youíve downloaded a third party update that itís actually installed. Make sure you look for and run the installer. And then when youíre done verify that it actually has a new version number by looking at the ďaboutĒ 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 and you can search for an application that youíre 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 itís 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 developersí site and get all the information there.
Now, itís worth talking about why itís 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 youíve kept your application standing still doesnít mean the rest of the world has stood still. Youíve 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 doesnít 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 itís 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 itís usually free. But then go from 2.2 to 3.0, you have to pay an upgrade fee. Usually itís just about half or some fraction of the full price.
Now itís 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 theyíre not going to update version 1, version 2 and version 3 all for Snow Leopard. Theyíre only going to update the most recent version otherwise, itís going to drive up the cost of software. So itís 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 itís 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 / and 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 It works great.

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