How To Fix macOS Big Sur Download Failed An Error Occurred

macOS download failed

macOS Download failed error

Are you trying to update your Mac to the latest macOS Big Sur release but are getting the Download failed popup? Is your computer informing you that “an error occurred while downloading the selected updates?” This is a common macOS 11 issue that’s triggered while a new macOS Big Sur version is downloading!

How To Fix macOS Big Sur Download Failed Error

1. Check Internet Connectivity

The download failed popup comes with some troubleshooting advice. macOS asks you to “check your Internet connection” and try updating again.

That’s the first troubleshooting step that you should apply. Check the status bar for an active Wi-Fi connectivity. You can also open Safari and perform a Google search or play an YouTube video.

Fact: The Internet connection has to be stable. If it’s intermittent it will trigger the download failed error and the macOS Big Sur download will stop.

2. Exclude Any Apple Server-side Issue

macOS Software Update system status
Although rare, Apple’s servers might be overloaded when you’re trying to update. This could trigger the macOS download failed issue. The servers will abort downloads once a critical server load is reached.

Apple is transparent about this and informs about any internal issues on its System Status page. If macOS Software Update service is listed as ‘Available’ (green) move on to the next step!

3. Correct Date & Time on your Mac?

The Date & Time settings could interfere with a macOS Big Sur software update. Make sure that your Mac is configured with the correct date & time:

  • Press cmd + Spacebar to bright up the Spotlight Search.
  • Search for Date & Time.
  • Make sure that the ‘Set date and time automatically‘ option is checked. Else, click the lock in the bottom-left corner to make the required adjustments.

4. Download macOS Big Sur From Mac App Store

Try to download the latest macOS Big Sur, using the Mac App Store and see if this can help you bypass the Download failed error:
download macOS Big Sur from Mac App Store

  • Open the App Store on your Mac.
  • Type macOS Big Sur in the search field.
  • Click View next to the macOS Big Sur result.
  • Use GET to force your computer to search for the latest macOS Big Sur version.
  • The Software Update app opens up and prompts you with the latest macOS 11 version available. Click Download to start the update. Fingers crossed!

5. Update In Safe Mode

If the macOS Big Sur download failed error continues to pop up, your next option is to try to update after you reboot your Mac in Safe Mode:

  • Click the Apple logo, available in the top-left corner of the screen.
  • Go for Shut Down… and wait between 15-30 seconds.
  • Turn your Mac back On and immediately press & hold the Shift key.
  • Release Shift after the log-in interface is loaded. Provide your Password.
  • Browse for System Preferences -> Software Update and try to download the latest macOS Big Sur version one more time. Does it work? Use the comments section and let us know.

Important: Booting M1 Macs in Safe Mode is a bit different. After you shut down the computer and wait for 15-30 seconds. Power the MacBook back ON and hold the Power Button until the startup disks and Options on the screen are displayed. Next, press & hold the Shift key and Continue in Safe Mode!

6. Run Disk First Aid

Perform a Disk First Aid could fix the macOS Big Sur download failed issue:
how to perform macOS disk first aid

  • Bring up the Spotlight Search again and search for Disk Utility.
  • Select Macintosh HD in the left sidebar, or the first drive that’s displayed under the Internal category.
  • Click First Aid and go for Run. Continue to confirm your command.
  • Restart Mac after the First Aid procedure completes and attempt to update to the latest macOS Big Sur release once again.

7. Free Up Storage Space

Last but not least, you should check if there is enough free space available on your Mac. macOS Big Sur requires up to 30GB of free storage for deploying.
Even minor updates like the macOS Big Sur 11.5.2 require at least 3GB of free storage. Anything less than that will cause the download to fail.

Tip: Check our detailed guide about how to free up storage on Mac!

Have you managed to fix the macOS Big Sur download failed error? Which fix worked for you? Are we missing something? Do you have a better one? Use the comments section to share your feedback.

Related: How to fix macOS Big Sur download stuck!