Change the Updates Channel

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last updated: 2018-02

This recipe illustrates how to change the updates (releases) channel in Visual Studio for Mac and use the Preview installer for Visual Studio 2017.

Change the Updates Channel in Visual Studio for Mac

For information on updating in Visual Studio for Mac, refer to the Visual Studio for Mac – Updating guide.


Xamarin Studio has been replaced by Visual Studio for Mac. Please install Visual Studio for Mac to continue to receive updates and access the latest Alpha and Beta channel preview features.

Change the Updates Channel in Visual Studio 2017

Visual Studio 2017 does not support alpha, beta, and stable channels in the same way as earlier versions. Instead, there are just two options:

  • Release – equivalent to the Stable channel on macOS
  • Preview

To try out pre-release features, you should download the Visual Studio 2017 Preview installer, which will offer the option to install Preview versions of Visual Studio side-by-side (SxS) with the stable (Release) version. More information is available in the Visual Studio 2017 Preview FAQ.

The Preview version of Visual Studio may include corresponding Preview versions of Xamarin functionality, including:

  • Xamarin.Forms
  • Xamarin Visual Studio Extension
  • Xamarin Profiler
  • Xamarin Workbooks/Inspector
  • Xamarin Remote iOS Simulator

The Preview Installer screenshot below shows both Preview and Release options (notice the grey version numbers: version 15.0 is release and version 15.1 is a Preview):

installer showing preview options


NOTE: the current Preview version is 15.3

During the installation process, an Installation Nickname can be applied to the side-by-side installation (so they can be distinguished in the Start menu), as shown below:

edit nickname before installing

Uninstalling Visual Studio 2017 Preview

The Visual Studio Installer should also be used to un-install preview versions of Visual Studio 2017. Read the uninstalling Xamarin guide for more information.

Change the Updates Channel in Visual Studio 2015 and earlier

To change the updates channel in Visual Studio, navigate to the Tools menu and select Options:

Choose Tools menu Options item

In the left panel of the Options window, scroll down and open the Xamarin options:

Choose the Xamarin section

Select Xamarin > Other to open the panel:

Select Other from the Xamarin section

From the panel, choose the channel you want to subscribe to, and click Check Now to check for updates:

Choose alpha, beta, or stable from the list


You many receive the error Could not contact update server., illustrated below, for a number of reasons:

Could not update server error

Here are some common solutions to fix this problem:

  • Make sure that you have an active connection to the internet.
  • There may be endpoints that you need to whitelist on your firewall. Follow the steps in the Firewall Configuration Instructions to make sure that all the correct endpoints have been whitelisted.
  • Make sure that you are logged in to your IDE with your Xamarin Account. You may want to try to log out and log back in again.
  • Restart your IDE

Xamarin Workbook

If it's not already installed, install the Xamarin Workbooks app first. The workbook file should download automatically, but if it doesn't, just click to start the workbook download manually.