utils (version 3.5.1)

update.packages: Compare Installed Packages with CRAN-like Repositories


old.packages indicates packages which have a (suitable) later version on the repositories whereas update.packages offers to download and install such packages.

new.packages looks for (suitable) packages on the repositories that are not already installed, and optionally offers them for installation.


update.packages(lib.loc = NULL, repos = getOption("repos"),
                contriburl = contrib.url(repos, type),
                method, instlib = NULL,
                ask = TRUE, available = NULL,
                oldPkgs = NULL, …, checkBuilt = FALSE,
                type = getOption("pkgType"))

old.packages(lib.loc = NULL, repos = getOption("repos"), contriburl = contrib.url(repos, type), instPkgs = installed.packages(lib.loc = lib.loc, …), method, available = NULL, checkBuilt = FALSE, …, type = getOption("pkgType"))

new.packages(lib.loc = NULL, repos = getOption("repos"), contriburl = contrib.url(repos, type), instPkgs = installed.packages(lib.loc = lib.loc, …), method, available = NULL, ask = FALSE, …, type = getOption("pkgType"))



character vector describing the location of R library trees to search through (and update packages therein), or NULL for all known trees (see .libPaths).


character vector, the base URL(s) of the repositories to use, e.g., the URL of a CRAN mirror such as "https://cloud.r-project.org".


URL(s) of the contrib sections of the repositories. Use this argument if your repository is incomplete. Overrides argument repos. Incompatible with type = "both".


Download method, see download.file. Unused if a non-NULL available is supplied.


character string giving the library directory where to install the packages.


logical indicating whether to ask the user to select packages before they are downloaded and installed, or the character string "graphics", which brings up a widget to allow the user to (de-)select from the list of packages which could be updated. (The latter value only works on systems with a GUI version of select.list, and is otherwise equivalent to ask = TRUE.)


an object as returned by available.packages listing packages available at the repositories, or NULL which makes an internal call to available.packages. Incompatible with type = "both".


If TRUE, a package built under an earlier major.minor version of R (e.g., 3.4) is considered to be ‘old’.


if specified as non-NULL, update.packages() only considers these packages for updating. This may be a character vector of package names or a matrix as returned by old.packages.


by default all installed packages, installed.packages(lib.loc = lib.loc). A subset can be specified; currently this must be in the same (character matrix) format as returned by installed.packages().

Arguments such as destdir and dependencies to be passed to install.packages and ignore_repo_cache, max_repo_cache_age and noCache to available.packages or installed.packages.


character, indicating the type of package to download and install. See install.packages.


update.packages returns NULL invisibly.

For old.packages, NULL or a matrix with one row per package, row names the package names and column names "Package", "LibPath", "Installed" (the version), "Built" (the version built under), "ReposVer" and "Repository".

For new.packages a character vector of package names, after any selected via ask have been installed.


Take care when using dependencies (passed to install.packages) with update.packages, for it is unclear where new dependencies should be installed. The current implementation will only allow it if all the packages to be updated are in a single library, when that library will be used.


old.packages compares the information from available.packages with that from instPkgs (computed by installed.packages by default) and reports installed packages that have newer versions on the repositories or, if checkBuilt = TRUE, that were built under an earlier minor version of R (for example built under 3.3.x when running R 3.4.0). (For binary package types there is no check that the version on the repository was built under the current minor version of R, but it is advertised as being suitable for this version.)

new.packages does the same comparison but reports uninstalled packages that are available at the repositories. If ask != FALSE it asks which packages should be installed in the first element of lib.loc.

The main function of the set is update.packages. First a list of all packages found in lib.loc is created and compared with those available at the repositories. If ask = TRUE (the default) packages with a newer version are reported and for each one the user can specify if it should be updated. If so the packages are downloaded from the repositories and installed in the respective library path (or instlib if specified).

For how the list of suitable available packages is determined see available.packages. available = NULL make a call to available.packages(contriburl = contriburl, method = method) and hence by default filters on R version, OS type and removes duplicates.

See Also

install.packages, available.packages, download.packages, installed.packages, contrib.url.

The options listed for install.packages under options.

See download.file for how to handle proxies and other options to monitor file transfers.

INSTALL, REMOVE, remove.packages, library, .packages, read.dcf

The ‘R Installation and Administration’ manual for how to set up a repository.