Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X come with large complements of application programs. Nonetheless, most people will install other applications besides those that came with the operating system: web browsers, word processors, spreadsheets, music managers, media players, games, etc.
Although the makers of these applications try to produce quality products, it's a fact of life that, from time to time, defects, or "bugs," will be discovered. Although some application software includes functionality that checks for bug fixes (usually called security patches) and installs them automatically, most do not.
Instead, the application creators release new versions of the software, which you have to download and install to obtain the fixes. Keeping your applications up-to-date is just as important as updating your operating system; if you don't, it's much more likely that your computer could be infected with malicious software (viruses, worms, etc.) or accessed by a hacker. This is especially true of web browsers and streaming media players such as Flash and Quicktime.
Note: This page describes how to keep third party application software up-to-date. For information on keeping operating system software up-to-date, see How to Enable Operating System Updates.
Follow the steps below to keep your application software up-to-date.
Configure your web browser for automatic updates
If you have more than one web browser installed, make sure to configure all of them.
Internet Explorer (Windows), Edge (Windows), and Safari (Mac OS X) are updated as part of the operating system.
Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera check for updates and apply them automatically every time they are started.
Enable automatic updates for other applications that offer them
Some applications will both check for updates and install them automatically; other applications will check for updates or new versions and let you know when they're available, but you have to install the updates manually.
- Microsoft Office updates are installed automatically as part of the operating system update process. Make sure that operating system updates have been enabled.
Consider installing updater apps
For Windows: consider installing the Flexera Personal Software Inspector, a free tool that identifies the applications on your computer that need updates, and can also automatically download and install them. See https://www.flexerasoftware.com/enterprise/products/software-vulnerability-management/personal-software-inspector/ for more information.
Or, for Windows: consider using the FileHippo.com Update Checker, a free tool that identifies applications on your computer that have new versions available, and helps you download and install them. See http://filehippo.com/updatechecker/ for more information.
For Mac OS X: consider cofiguring the App Store application to automatically check for and download updates (you'll be notified when updates are ready to be installed, and you'll have to authorize their installation). This will only help with apps obtained and installed through the App Store, however.
The Office of Information Technology is responsible for ensuring that IT-installed applications on university-owned computers are kept up-to-date. The New School Information Resource Acceptable Use Policy (PDF) prohibits interfering with this process.
Individual faculty and staff are responsible for ensuring that personally-installed applications on university-owned computers are kept up-to-date.