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How to Update Safari without upgrading MacOS?

Apple releases software updates frequently with the latest feature upgrades and security bug fixes. However, it also releases an annual System update and a new Safari version, but many users do not prefer to update macOS immediately. Hence, we can defer the operating system upgrade and proceed with only the Apple Safari software upgrade.

Safari is the default browser on all Apple devices and has its own set of perks and caveats.

Since it is deeply integrated into the OS, it is perhaps the most efficiently optimized browser for your Mac and iPhone/iPad. All the features and customizations you could try on your device would be totally in sync with the Apple ecosystem.

But that is just one side of the coin. A few drawbacks exist to the Safari browser being treated as a system app.

The inability to update the Safari browser without updating the OS is pecking. Upgrading the OS to update a browser doesn’t translate to the best-case scenarios for various users.

Many users do not wish to immediately install the latest OS upgrade on Mac because of compatibility or performance issues with some apps and software.

Likewise, setups used for development or testing purposes don’t require frequent updates as they would then have to restructure their code designs at regular intervals.

And yes, the fact that you would have to exhaust your GBs of data (for macOS) at a time when you could have done away with a few MBs downloading just Safari browser might also be a cause of concern for some users.

So all this begs an important question- how could you update the Safari browser without upgrading the OS?

Upgrade Safari without an OS update

From time to time, Apple does release a standalone update to its browser that isn’t linked with the OS upgrade. For example, last year, around this time, Safari 14 was slated to arrive with macOS Big Sur. The feature list was stacked with 4K HDR video support, a built-in translator, and better tracking protection.

Even though the macOS Big Sur wasn’t released then, Apple went out of the way and released this new iteration of the browser build for macOS Catalina and Mojave users. As a result, users could get hold of most of these new features without updating their OS.

So how could you verify whether the Cupertino giants have released a standalone update to their browser? And if there’s such an update, then how to install it onto your PC?

Here are the steps to update the Safari browser without upgrading OS:

  1. Open System Preferences… under the Apple apple logo menu.
    Apple MacOS System Preferences menuIt will open the System Preferences window.
  2. Select the Software Update program from the list.
    Apple System Preferences Software Update menuIt will open the Software Update window and start checking for updates.
  3. Click on the More info… link.
    Software Update More Info link
  4. Select the checkbox for the Safari browser.
    Safari Update checkbox enable under Software Update windowMake sure to disable other OS upgrade checkboxes.
  5. Hit the Install Now command button.

The Safari download will begin and automatically finish the update installation.

Software Update Installing on MacOS

That’s it. Mac will now install the latest update for your Safari browser without upgrading OS, and you can enjoy all its new goodies.

Note: Deferring the Operating System upgrades is not recommended as it involves security and bug fixes. Especially the sub-version of the currently running OS.

Bottom Line: Update Safari without MacOS

We round off the guide on how to update Safari without upgrading the OS on the computer.

As you might have noticed, it is still solely in the hands of Apple as and when (and more importantly if) they plan on releasing a standalone browser update rather than a part of the system update. Something available in the App Store app for ease of download.

Since so many complexities are involved in updating this browser, many users prefer to take an alternate route and install a Safari alternative browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Doing so gives them complete control over the browser without even the need to interact with the OS. What are your views on the same?

Are you willing to make a switch to a different web browser? Or would Safari still be your go-to choice for its decent performance and handy cross-device support in the Apple ecosystem?

Lastly, here are the recommended web browsers for computer and mobile phone that you should give a try.

Chrome WindowsChrome MacChrome iOSChrome AndroidFirefox Linux
Firefox WindowsSafari MacSafari iOSEdge AndroidChrome Linux
Edge WindowsFirefox MacEdge iOSSamsung InternetEdge Linux

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7 thoughts on “How to Update Safari without upgrading MacOS?”

  1. My Safari recently started “can’t open the page” on numerous websites, or tells me “This connection is not private” to sites that I was able to access directly just last week. I tried several of your fixes with no luck and thought that maybe I just need a new Safari. I’ve gone to “System Preferences” numerous times and “Software Update” is not shown as an option. The App Store shows no updates. My Safari is version 11.1.2 on version 10.11.6 of Mac OS X El Capitan.

    1. Hi Melodie, you seem to be using 4 years old OS and Safari version which is missing great features and powerful security updates. Maybe you need to upgrade your Mac machine.

  2. I have a 2009 MacBook which is updated to the last possible OS X El Capitan. Apple will not support any further OS updates. My daughter has been using it for school but today ran into the problem of Google Drive and a few other necessities needing an updated version of Safari. Are we out of luck?

      1. Apologies Lara for the late response and Hi Fabian!

        The Safari browser updates are released as a part of operating system iteration and Apple typically supports a version of the operating system until 4-5 years from its initial release date. X El Capitan was released in 2015 which is beyond the support timeline, hence there is a limited scope of receiving any upgrades for Safari.

        Perhaps you can try using other Safari alternatives for web browsing which might work in your case.

  3. If I change my browser to Firefox what are the implications – will I need to change passwords for example ? If I do download Firefox can I keep Safari for some websites as well? Thanks Judith

    1. I have a 2015 MacBook Air running High Sierra and don’t want to upgrade. I Prefer Safari, but also have Firefox for those sites that no longer support my Safari 13.1.2. I go back and forth as needed, but Safari is designated as the default browser. I also have Chrome, but I don’t like the interface, so I rarely use it. Hope that helps.

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