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MacOS Upgrade Instructions

NUQ-IT allows users to update their NU-Q provided laptops to the latest available configuration directly through Self-Service. This walkthrough will run through the steps necessary to update your operating system and NU-Q software suite to the latest version. NUQ-IT aims to release new macOS releases prior to the Fall semester, yearly.

Current release: macOS Catalina 10.15.6

DISCLAIMER: Please note that while we have checks in place to ensure a smooth upgrade process, there is always a possibility that upgrading your computer could potentially lead to data loss. We strongly recommend that users ensure that their backup is both current and includes all important documents before proceeding. Students can keep a backup of their data on an external hard-disk or use a cloud-based service such as Northwestern Box.  

This process could take between 45 minutes to 2 hours. You will be unable to use your computer during this time.

On the computer to be upgraded follow these steps

  1. Ensure your computer backups are current. Upgrading major OS versions increases the risk of data loss. It is important to ensure you have all sensitive information backed up before proceeding. To find out more about backing up your data visit this page.
  2. Log into your computer.
  3. Quit any open applications as these could interfere with the update.
  4. Open the Self Service application.
  5. Navigate to the OS section on left menu.
  1. Click Install on Upgrade macOS to Catalina 
    • NOTE: This process could take between 45 minutes to 2 hours. We require users to plug their laptops into power and leave all applications closed while the update runs.  You will be unable to use your computer during this time.Upgrade-macOS-to-Catalina.png
  2. After the upgrade is successful and your computer restarts, log back into the computer. 
  3. Click OK or Allow on relevant prompts asking to allow access if any.Step-82.jpg
  4. If you see the prompt below, click on Open Security Preferences.Picture3.png
  5. From the System Preferences>Security & Privacy window, Allow any pending extensions on the General tab.Picture4.png
  6. Install any applicable pending macOS security updates from Self Service>OS>Run pending macOS software updates.
    • NOTE: Your computer will restart after the updates are installed. Please ensure you have any work saved before installing.Run-pending-updates.png


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