The quick guide to updating all your current Apple devices

Apple has just released software patches for every device it currently sells

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Credit: Apple

Apple has shipped important software updates for every single one of its products in the last 24-hours: Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch and Apple TV (and also updated its iOS and macOS Sierra betas). Available now, the updates bring stability and maintenance improvements.

Please backup before you update

The cold, hard truth is that software upgrades do sometimes go wrong, so before installing this or any other upgrade it’s important to backup your device.

How to backup

  • On a Mac, back up to Time Machine, a cloud backup service such as Carbonite or Crashplan or an external drive.
  • On an iOS device backup using your Mac and iTunes or to iCloud.
  • Your iPhone automatically creates Apple Watch backups as explained here.
  • Apple TV is the one product that doesn’t yet have a backup facility – this makes some sense as the device is essentially a cloud access point for your television, but there is some demand for a backup routine, particularly for families who may want more or less the same content on each box they have in their home.

How to upgrade

I’ll assume most AppleHolic readers are already aware of how to upgrade their devices. Most already know to use a stable internet connection in order to avoid a failed upgrade (which can brick your device) and are also savvy enough to ensure the device is fully charged or plugged into power before beginning the upgrade process.

Some upgrade notes for less advanced users:

  • Mac OS X 10.11.6: This is likely to be the last El Capitan software upgrade pending introduction of macOS Sierra in fall (most likely in September). To upgrade your Mac open the App Store application and choose ‘Updates’.
  • iOS 9.3.3 is around 56MB. Upgrade by choosing Settings>General>Software Update, tap Download and Install.
  • tvOS 9.2.2: Your Apple TV should automatically download and install this update, but you can manually initiated the upgrade process by opening Settings>System>Software Updates.
  • watchOS 2.2.2: To upgrade your Apple Watch to the latest software first you must upgrade your iPhone. Once your iPhone is running the latest software you will be able to upgrade your watch using the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, in General>Software Update, choose Download and Install.

iTunes: Apple has also introduced an extremely important upgrade for iTunes. The upgrade means you should get much more accurate song recognition and should also prevent Apple replacing your unprotected music with DRM-infected versions. More on the upgrade here.

What to do if device performance slows after an upgrade

In a small number of cases some Apple users complain device performance slows after installing software upgrades, particularly major system revisions. This is annoying, but not unusual, and you can usually get your Apple device back on track using these tips:

On a Mac

Restart your Mac while holding down the Command and R key. Your Mac will launch in Recovery Mode. While in this mode, run Disk Utility>First Aid to address any issues. Restart your Mac. (NB: Disk Utility changed dramatically in El Capitan, read about those changes here). As a general rule, running Disk Utility and/or third party maintenance applications such as the excellent Onyx will repair the majority of problems Mac users face following system upgrades.

On iOS devices

The first thing to do when iOS device performance becomes erratic or slow? A Force Restart. Do it like this: Press and hold both the sleep/wake button and the Home button for at least 10 seconds, or until you see the Apple logo. Force Restart is generally enough to get your iOS device back in shape after an upgrade, but if this doesn't cut it you'll find more suggestions here.

On Apple TV/Apple Watch

If your Apple TV is performing erratically you should hold down the Home and Play/Pause buttons simultaneously until the system reboots.

To hard reset your Apple Watch you should firmly press both the Digital Crown and Side button at once. Hold these buttons for about 10-seconds, until the Watch reboots.

In most cases a forced reboot is all it takes to clean out your system and get it working more effectively again.

These instructions should help you maintain device performance following any upgrade, rangingfrom maintenance releases to major system enhancements. Don't forget that with Apple promising to upgrade all its systems this fall you'll be upgrading your devices all over again in a few weeks time.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Want Apple TV tips? If you want to learn how to get the very best out of your Apple TV, please visit my Apple TV website.

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

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