Fix OS X 10.10.3 failing to install

YosemiteInstallerIconXA few people who have attempted to install the latest OS X 10.10.3 update have found an issue where the update will take a while to install, and then restart only to stall at boot, followed by loading back to OS X 10.10.2. In some cases this may happen repeatedly, suggesting a fault with your Mac’s current setup that is preventing the installation. If you are stuck in this situation, you can overcome the issue through a couple of quick troubleshooting steps.

1. General Troubleshooting

First try some general troubleshooting steps such as booting your Mac into Safe Mode, and using Disk Utility to repair your Mac’s hard drive and permissions. If there are any drive configuration errors, then these may prevent the update from being applied, and these approaches can reveal or even fix them.

2. Download the Combo updater

The updater that is pushed to your system via the App Store is tailored for your Mac, and only includes the files necessary to update it. On the other hand the Combo updater includes all files to update any version of OS X Yosemite, and as such may replace more system files to ensure the update is complete. Download the 10.10.3 Combo updater from here, and then mount the disk image and run the installer package on it.

3. Reinstall OS X

While reinstalling OS X may sound extreme, it in fact performs a similar routine as simply using the Combo updater, where it will just replace system files while keeping your personal data and third-party software intact. It will simply replace all Apple-provided system files and thereby overwrite any problematic ones that may be contributing to this error:

  1. Reboot your Mac and hold Command-R at the boot chimes to load Recovery Mode
  2. Choose the option to install OS X
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to install OS X to your boot drive.

This process will install a prior version of Yosemite to your Mac, but immediately after doing this, be sure you access Software Update and apply the OS X 10.10.3 update.

4. Format and restore from backup

A final issue may be if severe formatting and drive setup problems are preventing the update from proceeding. If this is the case, then you may also be experiencing slowdowns and other faults when using your Mac (though not always). If you still cannot install the latest version of OS X after having tried the above approaches for fixing the issue, then first ensure you have a full and restorable backup of your entire system, and then use the steps above to reboot into Recovery Mode. In here, use Disk Utility to format your hard drive, and preferably re-partition it, and then restore your backup or reinstall OS X and then migrate your data from your backup. When done, again attempt installing the latest update.

16 thoughts on “Fix OS X 10.10.3 failing to install

  1. Etk

    Mine is different; after installation, OS X crashed. It can’t boot anymore. (MacBook Pro late 2013, Mavericks 10.10.2)

  2. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    Etk: I ran into a similar problem just a few weeks ago and getting my system up and running again was a real pain. For me the problem appeared to be spontaneous and was not related to any system updates. At first I thought my hard drive had failed because I was able to boot from an external drive. But after getting some advice from my local Apple service center, I concluded it was a software problem. How much of a problem you have will determine how far you have to go to fix it.

    The first steps to take are as Topher describes. First try Safe Boot – hold down the Shift key when you hear the startup chime and continue holding it down until you see a progress bar. Release the Shift key and wait for your system to load the login screen. Finish startup and restart normally.

    If this doesn’t fix the problem, boot from your Recovery HD partition by holding down Command-R at startup. Then run Disk Utility on the boot drive – repair the drive and repair permissions. If Disk Utility reports errors while repairing the disk, run it again; sometimes this will clear things up. If not, you may need a more robust repair utility like DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro. If Disk Utility reports no errors, or fixes the errors it finds, restart again normally.

    If you still cannot boot successfully, you will need to reinstall OS X as Topher describes. The Fusion Drive in my iMac was so badly damaged Disk Utility couldn’t even erase the drive in preparation for a clean install. I had to go to extraordinary means to restore the drive to a usable state. Once I was able to reinstall OS X, I used Time Machine to restore my system from a time a month prior to when the problem arose in an effort to not restore whatever files had been damaged before the drive failed to boot.

    If you don’t have a Time Machine backup you may want to boot from an external system, if you have one or can get your hands on one. You can boot from that and, hopefully your internal drive will mount on the Desktop. Then copy any important files to an external drive or partition in case you have to erase the internal drive to get it to work again.

    Good luck.

  3. Kiwiiano

    Exactly what happened to me. Booting off the Recovery Drive and running Repair Permissions/Hard Drive didn’t work. Still crashing with a Kernel Panic part-way thru the restart.
    Cured it by replacing the drive contents with the SuperDuper clone copied the day before.

    WARNING: don’t attempt this update without a fresh, tested clone on hand. I use SuperDuper, some prefer CarbonCopyCloner. I can’t recommend TimeMachine because every time I have depended on it, it let me down.

  4. Steve L'Heureux, AKA The Mac Doctor, Inc.

    You might rather suggest trying to get into the built in recovery partition with a restart and holding down the option key. This will be MUCH faster if you live in a rural area and have crappy bandwidth since restart>Command R invokes an Internet based OS X reinstall OF THE ORIGINAL OS THAT SHIPPED WITH THEIR MACHINE, that could end up being a real fail in several ways

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      Command-R by itself will load the local Recovery partition, and is the fastest way to do so. To load Internet Recovery, hold Option-Command-R. The only time Command-R will load Internet Recovery is if your local Recovery partition is damaged and cannot be used.

      1. Steve L'Heureux, AKA The Mac Doctor, Inc.

        Not my experience, just tested yesterday, C-R took fricking forever (5 Mbps), seemed to download the installer, Restart + Option, immediate. YMMV

        1. Topher Kessler Post author

          Did the system display a spinning globe icon when it was stalling? If so, then this was it downloading from the internet; however, if not then it suggests some problem was at hand.

  5. Nicola

    Thank you so much! #2 worked for me after literally two days of trying to download and install this. It kept stopping part way through the download, but then also said it was installed under recent updates. With this tip, it downloaded in 20 mins and installed right away. 🙂

  6. Gil

    I had the same problem as Nicola. The Combo Updater download fixed the problem. This should be posted on the apple support website

  7. BrianForbesColgate

    My download takes about 9 hours on what is supposed to be a 5 MB download speed. It has gone through this 7 times now, and within a few MB of the entire download a box pops up indicating there has been a change in the download file, and everything wants to start over from the beginning. Is it possible someone in Apple is continually adding fixes to the download? :-0
    I’ll try the Combo Updater option after a Safe Boot and Disk Utility checks. Thanks for the information!

  8. BrianForbesColgate

    OSXUpdCombo10.10.3.dmg even though larger by ½ a GB than the App Store update, in contrast downloaded smoothly and steadily from the start. I’ll do the install later … taking advantage of this sunny warm day to get some garden clean-up done.

  9. BrianForbesColgate

    Thank you again, the Combo Updater worked like a charm … not a single hitch!
    Now, why couldn’t the Apple App Store update work as well?

  10. Benny

    The App Store program in my dock is soooooo slow (9 hours remaining)! Downloaded the update 25 times – always interrupted, not completed, and, like others, the update history says it’s installed. I am now downloading the Combo Update from Apple, and it will be done in 40 minutes.
    Fingers crossed!

  11. Filip Van Bourgognie

    This update prevents the Mac from not starting up when rebooting when apps are capturing video: well, for us, this update comes too late because that’s exactly what happened with our macbook yesterday when it was connected to a camera from which video was being captured right before we rebooted after installing 10.10.3 itself. Now we’re stuck with a lock-sign when trying to boot and nothing of the tips and tricks help at all. Anyone else experienced this?

  12. Rob

    I solved the same problem by using a Mavericks 10.9 memory stick to enter Disk Utility. I then repaired the disk (there were a couple of “invalid extent” errors), and installed 10.9. Once that was installed, I went to the App Store and downloaded the prescribed Yosemite upgrade – about 5.6 GB – and it went straight to Yosemite 10.10.3 and installed it normally. The download took many hours, but was error free. Nevertheless, the solutions suggested by others on this thread do sound like they address some of the problems I had before hitting a upon this solution.

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