AppFresh: Keep Your Mac Software Up-To-Date

Keeping applications up-to-date on my Macbook is definitely one of my weaker areas. I tend to delay installing the Apple updates for as long as possible, especially if it requires a restart of the computer, and will then do a bulk install every couple of weeks.

Updating my applications, plugins and widgets often doesn’t even figure in my mind, unless prompted on launching said piece of software. But the problem with that is that a lot of OS X software doesn’t include an update checker.

From a security point of view this could possibly leave my Mac open to being infected or hacked through a loophole in one of the programs, which would have been fixed had I installed the update that I didn’t even know about.

AppFresh from MetaQuark aims to help solve that problem by providing a one-stop-shop for updating applications, widgets, preference panes and application plugins without having to even go looking for the updates yourself.

If the software is listed on osx.iusethis.com, then AppFresh will be able to look for an update, download and install it to your Mac and remove any old version if necessary….all with just the click of a couple of buttons. It can even grab official Apple updates. Keeping your software up-to-date needn’t be a hassle anymore!

Getting Started

Upon launching AppFresh, you are presented with a lovely Mac OS X style interface split into three columns. The left column holds the categories which you can filter your software by, for example you can show only the plugins installed on your computer, or software from Microsoft.

The centre column is empty, but will list all apps installed on your computer, along with whether an update is available, after a quick system scan.

The right-hand column is also empty, but after clicking on a piece of software it gives you some really useful information, including a description of what it is and the release notes for the update.

I found this particularly informative as there were a number of Apps installed that I had completely forgotten about and needed reminding of what they were!

Main Window

Main Window

Scanning Your System

A quick system scan finds all of the software installed on your computer and lets you know whether there is an update available. I was expecting there to be a few updates required, however AppFresh found 74 in the space of a couple of minutes, surprisingly including some updates that were released before I even owned the software.

Somewhat stunned, I set about the simple process of updating the apps I care about the most and also realised that there were a number of applications that I really had no need for any longer!

Thankfully, AppFresh makes it easy to delete apps, you simply click on those you no longer want and click the Trash button on the toolbar.

Available Updates

Available Updates

Installing Updates

When it comes to actually choosing the apps you want to update, you can ‘Cmd+Click’ to select multiple applications, ‘Cmd+A’ to select them all, or just pick individual ones that you feel are the most important.

AppFresh can download up to five concurrent applications and instantly attempts to install them as soon as they have downloaded, negating the need to enter an administrator password.

In a way, this could be seen as a drawback, as the administrator password is seen as frontline security against changes being made to installations on your Mac. However, it does make the process quicker and sometimes you need to sacrifice security for performance. If in doubt, you can always disable the automatic installation anyway, to ensure that only the updates you specifically want to update are installed.

Downloading Updates

Downloading Updates

Once downloaded and installed, AppFresh deletes the old application files and the installer, ensuring you do not take up more space than you need. Your updated software is then ready to use as normal.

IUseThis

One of my favourite things about AppFresh is the ability to tie into IUseThis, the website that holds all the data for current releases on Mac OS X. Registering a profile on the website is quick and easy and it allows you to upload a profile of all the apps you use on a regular basis.

IUseThis Integration

IUseThis Integration

You can then rate and review applications and get recommendations based upon those apps that you use. You can even share your profile with friends, allowing them to see exactly what you use and give them advice on what they should purchase in order to meet a certain requirement.

But what’s brilliant about IUseThis, is that if you need to format your computer, your entire software profile is saved on the website, allowing you to automatically reinstall all the applications you own with just the click of a button! This really does save the hassle of stressful reinstalls and gets you back up and running in next to no time.

Drawbacks

It’s hard to find any drawbacks to a free piece of software that saves so much time in installing updates, however if I were to list one, it would be that AppFresh is not a finished product.

The current release, 0.8.5, is still a Development Preview and, as with any Preview/Beta, there are going to be a few bugs. That’s not to say you shouldn’t download it, just be wary that there may be a problem installing a particular update.

AppFresh states that there is no warranty on their software, and that you should keep a backup of your applications. For those of you with Time Machine, this shouldn’t be a problem. Those of you who don’t regularly backup, I would recommend that you proceed with some caution, however I am yet to encounter any problems myself.

The Occasional Installation Failure

The Occasional Installation Failure

AppFresh also doesn’t always manage to find or install applications that it says there are updates available for. Sometimes you are required to find the download link on the developer’s website, other times the installation fails and must be processed manually (and there are also times when the download fails completely).

Out of the ten apps I tried to update, half were successful, four downloaded successfully but failed to install and the final one returned an error. I guess this is not too bad, as manual installation is not too difficult and a 10% total fail rate on a beta release is pretty impressive! Hopefully we shall see these problems fixed before the full release.

Conclusion

Searching manually for updates to all of my applications would have taken days rather than minutes, and would have certainly not been a pleasant process! Thankfully with AppFresh, this process is simplified and condensed into a few button clicks.

From a security point of view, there is nothing better than keeping applications up to date and ensuring you have all the latest security releases installed, and with AppFresh you can do just that.

Sure, there are a few drawbacks, but you must remember it is still in beta. This is definitely an application to keep an eye on!


Summary

AppFresh helps you to keep all applications, widgets, preference panes and application plugins installed on your Mac up to date. All from one place, easy to use and fully integrated into Mac OS X.

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  • http://www.nouveller.com/ Benjamin Reid

    I was thinking if there was an app’ for this the other day, so thanks for bringing into my attention. This looks and seems to perform really well, I think I’ll wait until it’s out of beta though. Thanks for the write up.

  • http://www.sayzlim.net Sayz

    I’ve used this for ages, while there are alternative from AppFresh including the premium apps. AppFresh can do what most of them can do. If you’re just a user who only want to check what apps you have and to know the latest version of apps, AppFresh is recommended. But if you prefer a better interface, you can use another one (forgot the name).

  • Maxime R.

    I know Bodega ( http://appbodega.com/ ) added the functionality to update apps that aren’t even featured in their store. In my opinion, it’s definitely better for me. The interface is a lot more pleasing and AppFresh sometimes has the bad habit of not updating an app to the most recent version, sometimes going to the extent of downgrading an app.

    • Mashi

      Oh, man, did they?

      I’ve been using AppFresh for a while, and had Bodega as well, but got rid of it because I wasn’t using the store.

      But this news makes Bodega shine in my eyes now. Goodbye AppFresh!! Thanks for alerting us.

      • K

        The updating function of Bodega is very limited and it can’t find half of my not up to date apps, AppFresh does see them, and I can ignore a paid upgrade if I wish to, one of the many things Bodega is not capable of.

  • Esben Meincke

    Been using both Bodega and Appfresh for a while and find myself using AppFresh everytime. That’s simply because it recognizes a lot more of my apps. I’m not sure how the development of AppFresh is coming along. I can’t recall a recent update. It might be my memory, but I feel like it’s been in beta for ages. I’d like to switch to Bodega because it simply cooler, but more development is needed.

    • forevermac

      The last update was 9/9/09. It’s probably just my computer, but I’ve had issues with it ever since I upgraded to 10.6.4.

      • MacKeeperFanMod

        I’ve ben using AppFresh for more than a year and it has never given me any issues. What makes you think the developers aren’t proud of their app?

        Do you have a relationship with MacUpdate?

      • MacKeeper-fan-Blase

        Why are you worried by last update date? In its current state, ApFresh is totally functional and good enough. Are you missing some features? Doesn’t it work on your computer? Tell the developers about that, they’ll surely do something!

        But if you just want all the software you use be released recently — just imagine that it was released yesterday ;)

  • Tim Sondrup

    I prefer Bodega.

  • dave

    macupdate desktop is way better. I used to use appfresh for years but it misses way too much way too often and it’s been in beta for like 5-6 years now.

  • MattT

    Are the good reasons to want to use something like this since apps these days generally check for newer versions themselves when they launch?

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