How to find your software version

How to find your software version
Quick Mac Tip, 23 October 2011

It’s always helpful to know exactly which version of an app you’re running, especially if things go wrong and you need to find help. Here’s how to figure out which version of an app you’re using.

Quick version: look under the Apple menu: About This Mac and under the application menu: About [application name].

These instructions work for every Mac I can remember from the last 2 decades or more.

Versions matter

I’m helping a friend move her photos from an old Mac to a brand new one. Unfortunately this has met with a few problems and we needed to search for some help. In order to find the solution I needed to ask my friend for 2 bits of information:

  1. exactly which version of the Mac OS are the 2 machines running?
  2. exactly which versions of iPhoto are we dealing with?

Any help we find may have specific instructions for different versions of the app involved.

Find which version of the Mac OS you’re using

  1. Go to the Apple menu
  2. Choose the first item: About This Mac. A window appears, similar to the screenshot, clearly stating which version of Mac OS X the machine is running. My Mac is running Mac OS X Version 10.7.2 as I write this Tip.
Version of the Mac OS.

My Mac is running Mac OS X Version 10.7.2.

Find the version of any app you’re using

Whenever you open an application, whatever it is, the name of that app should show up in the Menu Bar right next to the Apple menu.

Click on the name of the app and the first item should read About [application name].

For example, as I write this Tip I’m using an app called MarsEdit. I click on that name in the Menu Bar and the first item reads: About MarsEdit.

About MarsEdit.

About MarsEdit.

Choose that About [application name] item and usually a window will appear that shows information about the app, including its version number.

If you use WordPress do yourself a favour and buy MarsEdit — it’s enormously easier than struggling to write Posts and Pages via the web interface. I’ve been using it for years now and am an extremely happy customer.

Some apps behave a bit differently

While most apps show their name in a Menu and offer an About item, there are some that are a bit different or special.

For example, I find an app called Hazel very helpful for keeping my Mac clean and tidy.

The Version number for Hazel is in System Preferences.

The Version number for Hazel is in System Preferences.

It works in the background though and can only be accessed through the System Preferences. To find out which version of Hazel I’m running I need to open its item under System Preferences and click on the Info tab. On that screen I’m able to find a version number.

Solve problems your Mac’s having

If you’re having problems with your Mac what do you do? Knowing which versions of software you’re using is an extremely helpful piece of information to have at hand, but then what?

Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac.

Even though I’ve been using Macs for more than 20 years now I still learned a few new tricks from Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac, such as 3 additional methods for Force Quitting a problem application beyond the 2 or 3 I already knew. I highly recommend you buy and read this book before you really need it.

Tell us in the comments how this Tip helped you.

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One Comment;

  1. Dilin said:

    I’ve made a similar helpful article on some easy and simple maintenance tasks that can be done to ensure a high performing mac despite heavy use. Share some link juice if you find it helpful.

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