All graphics driver updates come from Apple in macOS software updates so you really shouldn’t need to update them manually (the one exception is the Mac Pro which is the only Mac model to have user upgradeable graphics cards). I absolutely wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you know what you’re doing and confident in your ability to do so (that’s my disclaimer – if everything goes catastrophically wrong I cannot be held responsible). Even if you’re confident about updating manually think before you do it, is it really necessary? Apple optimise macOS and update the drivers themselves to deliver the most stable, safe operating environment for your Mac.
Warning – Ever since updating to macOS Sierra 10.12 and the current 10.12.1, NVIDIA’s drivers are causing my Mac to kernel panic. If you choose to update PLEASE understand what you are doing and how to reverse it. This isn’t happening to everyone who updates but I’ve had others tell me it’s also happening to them. I suspect it has to do with the automatic graphics switching in 15″ MacBook Pros so you could try disabling this in System Preferences.
If you’re inquisitive like me, and want to know which driver version your Mac is currently on from Apple, follow these instructions.
If you are unable to boot your Mac to the desktop after installing this update you can roll back to Apple’s driver by doing a NVRAM reset. To do this make sure your Mac is off. Turn it back on and immediately hold down the following keys – CMD, Option (the Alt key), P, R. Keep them held down until you hear the startup chime for the second time then let go. Apple have a support page about NVRAM here – https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204063
Manual update Instructions:
- Go to NVIDIA’s website and select Quadro as the Product Type. Under the Product dropdown select one of the specific Mac ones, doesn’t matter which. Under the Operating System dropdown select which version of macOS you are using. Under Recommended/Beta select All:
- Click on the most recent driver that appears below the search field. You’ll be taken to the download page. Note that only a few specific Mac Pros are officially supported. At the bottom of the Release Highlights tab you’ll see a list of the Macs supported in beta. If your Mac is not listed there, there will be no point in you performing this update:
- Download and install the update.
- You’ll be prompted to restart your Mac. Once restarted you should see a new little NVIDIA Driver Manager icon in the menu bar:
- And in System Preferences you will see a new icon at the bottom:
If you have a MacBook Pro and it has started suffering from kernel panics since using the NVIDIA driver then disable automatic graphics switching in System Preferences. This will prevent your Mac switching back to the Intel graphics when it needs less graphics power. I’ve found that this stops the kernel panics. It will mean that your battery will drain faster as more power is required for the NVIDIA GPU though.
If after reading this you are only getting the option for Windows drivers on NVIDIA’s site then you are not following the instructions properly. Please click on the links I have provided and choose exactly what I have listed in the drop down fields.
Any and all feedback is welcome.