A software update is required to use this startup disk

By John Adebimitan

Most of us enjoy downloading and installing updates on our computers as soon as they are out. For one thing, this is the best way to improve your computer performance. Additionally, it makes your computer compatible with the most recent software. However, getting this error message can be frustrating when all you need is for your macOS computer to boot up.

Are you stuck with the “a software update is required to use this startup disk” error message? Read on to find the best fixes for your macOS startup disk problem. 

What is the “a software update is required to use this startup disk” problem?

This problem is peculiar to Mac computers that have the T2 security chip. This chip is like a separate computer inside your Mac. Why is it necessary? The chip lightens the load on your processor by offloading and taking on some processing.

The chip also minimizes the risk of malicious attacks. How? By ensuring a secure boot process where every computer component involved must be cryptographically verified by Apple as legit.

If secure boot is your default boot setting, you may not be able to boot your computer from any external drive. This is super cool for improving cybersecurity. But you can experience glitches when troubleshooting or booting your computer’s startup disk.

Don’t get it wrong, Mac computers with the T2 secure chips are great,  with lots of exciting features like encrypted storage, Touch ID, and other impressive hardware. However, it is also prone to the “a software update is required to use this startup disk” error message when trying to install system updates or when you attempt booting from an external device like a USB stick.

A software update is required to use this startup disk

Best fixes for the “a software update is required to use this startup disk” problem

Fix 1: When installing normal system updates

  1. On the error message screen, there are usually two tabs at the bottom of the dialog box. Don’t select either of them; instead, restart your computer.
  2. When your computer comes on, keep tapping the option button on the keyboard until the startup disk selection box appears.
  3. Next, click the WIFI icon for a dropdown list of all available networks. Connect to your network.
  4. Next, you should get another pop-up that says, “it is necessary to make an update.” Click yes to allow your computer to re-download the updates in this state.
  5. After downloading the updates, the computer should reboot automatically to install the update(s). Your Mac computer should be fine now.

Fix 2: When trying to boot from a bootable USB drive

  1. Try using another USB port: This simple trick can solve the problem right away. Some users confirmed that they may have been having some issues with the USB port even before trying to boot the startup disk from it. So, if your computer has more than one USB port (which it normally would), try them all.
  2. Use another USB flash drive: Another likely reason why you’re getting the “a software update is required to use this startup disk” error message could be traced to USB incompatibility. There are many USB drives out there, and there’s no sin in replacing them. Doing this has solved the problem for some Mac computer users.

After trying both recommendations for option 2, restart your computer, and when the Apple logo appears, keep tapping the Option button until you can see your bootable USB device.

A software update is required to use this startup disk

How do you update your startup disk on a Mac?

To update your startup disk on your Mac computer, first, choose the startup disk in question, then click Update your Computer.

To choose your startup disk:

  • Click the Apple menu
  • Click System Preferences
  • Click Startup Disk Preferences
  • Unlock the Disk Preferences if it is locked. Just click the unlock icon
  • Once the startup disk is selected, click on Software update
  • Restart your computer.

How do I update my Mac when there is no software update?

It is kind of rare, but there are times when your Mac can’t find any software updates. Here’s another way around it:

  • Click the App Store on the bottom of your screen
  • In the search box, type Mac OS
  • The latest Mac updates will be among the first options you’ll find there
  • Click download
  • Install the update
  • Restart your computer

What do I do when my Mac says there is no startup disk?

If your Mac computer cannot automatically find your startup disk, you just have to find it manually.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • Click the Apple menu
  • Click System Preferences
  • Click on Startup Disk
  • From the list of disks, click on the disk’s icon to choose it
  • To finalize this change, restart your computer

Read also: Differences Between Windows laptops and MacBooks

How do I get to the startup security utility M1?

The startup security utility is a way to enable booting from an external drive like the USB. To access this utility M1, follow these steps:

  • Power OFF your computer
  • Press and hold down the power button till you see “Loading Startup Options
  • Next, click options
  • Click Continue
  • Click Select Utilities from the menu
  • Next, Click Startup Security Utility
  • Click Security Policy and choose Reduced Security from the options
  • You should check the “allow user management of kernel extensions from developers” box
  • Click “OK” and if applicable, enter your system password.
  • Restart your computer.

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