Windows 10's light desktop background.

Windows 10’s May 2021 Update was released on May 18, 2021. As always, Microsoft is slowly rolling this update out to Windows 10 PCs, bit by bit. Windows Update should automatically install the 21H1 update on your PC, but it may take a few weeks. Here’s how to get it right now.

We recommend you wait for Windows Update to automatically install this update on your PC. This is a particularly small update with very few changes, so there’s no reason for most people to rush the process. If you wait, you will have less chance of encountering a show-stopping bug on your PC.

How to Get the Update From Windows Update

You can check Windows Update for the update, although it may not appear if Microsoft hasn’t approved it for your PC’s hardware and software configuration yet.

To check, head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. (You can open the Settings app by pressing Windows+i.) Click “Check for Updates.”

If Windows Update offers the update to your PC, you will see a “Feature update to Windows 10, version 21H1” section below the “View optional updates” link. To install the update, click the “Download and install” link.

If you don’t see this option, Microsoft may not yet be offering it to your PC through Windows Update. Or, your PC may already have installed the update. Here’s how to check which version of Windows 10 you have installed.

Click "Download and Install" under the Feature Update section.
Microsoft

How to Force an Upgrade to the May 2021 Update

if you want to upgrade right now, you can do so with Microsoft’s Update Assistant tool. Head to Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page and click the “Update Now” button to download it.

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If there is a newer version of Windows 10 available—in this case, version 21H1—the updater will offer it to you. You’ll see a message like “This PC is running version 20H2. The latest version is 21H1.”

Warning: By using this tool, you’re skipping Microsoft’s slow rollout process and increasing the risk that you will encounter bugs on your PC that may otherwise have been fixed before your hardware got the update.

Click the “Update Now” button to install the update on your PC.

The Windows 10 Update Assistant showing an upgrade to 21H1.

If you encounter a bug, you can uninstall the update and go back to your old version of Windows 10 from Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. However, you must do this within the first ten days after you install the update. Here’s how to uninstall the October 2020 update—it’s a process that will work for any big Windows 10 Update.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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