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When you're home visiting the family, often times you'll find yourself updating a few computers that have fallen behind. While updating software isn't hard to do, you've probably run into a family member or two who have yet to learn how. This guide is for them. To help you out in your tech support role, we're offering easy-to-email guides to teach beginners the basics of using a computer. You can find all of the guides here. Today we're going to take a look at keeping system software and third-party applications up-to-date. You'll find the instructions below, but the same instructions are also available in video form above.

System Software Updates


First, let's look at updating system software. You always want to keep your system updated as much as possible as updates most often focus on bug fixes, so your system will run better, and additional security, so your computer doesn't end up with a virus or something like that. To update system software on a Mac, just follow these steps:

Click the Apple menu (up in the top left corner of your screen) and choose "Software Update." Software Update will load and check for updates. When it finishes, it'll let you know if there are any updates to install. Click "Show Details" to see any updates Software Update wants to install, or just click the "Install" button to install them. The process is similar on Windows computers. To update your system software on Windows, just follow these steps: Click the Windows icon in your task bar to open up the Start menu. (If you don't already know, this icon is in the bottom left corner of your screen.) Click "All Programs." Click, "Windows Update." After Windows Update opens, click "Check for Updates" on the top left side of the window. Once Windows finishes checking for updates, click the "Install" button. When the updates have finished installing, restart your computer (if prompted). Software Update (Mac) and Windows Update (Windows) will periodically run all by themselves and ask you to update. Nonetheless, you may not notice this or ignore it from time to time, so it's good to check yourself once in a while. Note: If you're worried about messing up your computer, don't. It's very hard to make a mistake when updating your software nowadays, and Windows Update even creates a restore point for you in case an update goes south. If you're on a Mac and already backing up with Time Machine, you'll be able to restore as well. The chances of something going wrong are pretty slim, however, so as long as you don't turn off your machine during an update you have nothing to worry about.

Third-Party Software Updates


Third-party software describes any software created by a third party and did not come with your computer's operating system. This primarily includes any software you, yourself, have installed on your machine. Because third-party software is created by different people, the way you update it varies. Web browsers, such as Firefox and Google Chrome, update themselves. You don't have to do anything at all. Other software may also update itself, or notify you of an update so you can choose whether to install it or not. Most software will allow you to check for updates manually. The location varies, but you'll almost always find a "Check for Updates" option in one of the program's menus. Some software will not notify you of updates and you'll have to visit the software's web site in order to find out if a new version is available. If it is, just download the available update or the most recent version and install it like it's a new program. If it asks you to replace the previous version, it's okay to allow that. Finally, if you downloaded an application from the Mac App Store, simply open the Mac App Store, click the "Updates" tab, and install any available updates. Those are the basics of updating software. It's a good idea to set a day and time each week to check for new updates to make sure you don't forget. It only takes a few minutes and your computer will be better off for it. Emailable Tech Support is a tri-weekly series of easy-to-share guides for the less tech savvy people in your life. Got a beginner tech support question you constantly answer? Let us know at tips@lifehacker.com. Remember, when you're just starting out computing, there's very little that's too basic to learn.

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2014 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
01 03 23 21 26 91 18 29 89 95 88 09 43
02 52 84 07 11 96 00 64 18 19 37 20 82
03 44 44 47 21 13 22 08 19 06 34 99 82
04 81 84 15 27 97 97 50 93 32 74 14 81
05 35 19 24 01 57 22 68 95 43 96 60 52
06 98 40 81 80 91 58 02 21 19 45 30 71
07 50 84 87 26 99 45 05 80 33 95 84 31
08 18 22 84 28 05 87 09 92 14 28 06 66
09 28 51 69 48 71 75 37 78 10 91 66 15
10 86 45 98 19 61 51 73 27 08 72 89 89
11 23 08 61 79 32 07 20 68 24 76 26 15
12 93 74 92 86 61 81 34 88 08 15 33 77
13 79 64 51 31 56 06 00 70 26 70 62 15
14 92 98 76 58 31 99 41 29 98 91 40 50
15 64 79 71 38 49 12 72 87 82 43 95 50
16 92 78 53 09 95 50 35 76 73 24 47 83
17 66 83 02 68 74 13 31 64 42 26 30 23
18 41 14 07 66 06 53 84 71 02 96 55 36
19 94 80 56 49 60 54 46 11 72 88 71 97
20 09 06 78 42 92 06 03 47 89 03 99 93
21 79 83 60 19 00 52 18 80 42 94 80 79
22 04 35 60 34 27 46 58 39 49 62 84 90
23 41 02 47 91 96 33 34 85 98 94 77 87
24 90 10 86 41 94 49 22 11 68 71 57 33
25 03 35 90 85 17 40 64 87 43 12 52 81
26 63 32 28 22 54 88 01 04 93 14 45 64
27 43 45 07 59 37 56 71 52 13 92 45 21
28 77 XX 93 53 13 19 65 90 72 23 29 42
29 60 XX 63 58 32 84 59 77 10 26 15 65
30 70 XX 50 XX 02 XX 61 04 XX 64 XX 82