List all projects with available updates using Drush

Update: The commands for checking all project updates is best run without the drush --simulate option. The --simulate option appears to not always run all update checks. Try this instead of what is listed below in the article:

drush vset update_check_disabled 1 -y && drush -n -p up

When maintaining Drupal distributions, I frequently need to have a list of available updates for projects (Drupal core, modules, and themes) so I can test and update the related make files. I especially need to see ALL projects, both enabled and disabled, since a distribution user may decide to turn on a project which isn’t enabled by default.

The Drush commands below provide a convenient way to perform a quick check of available updates. It sets “update_check_disabled” in the variables table to allow checking of all projects and then runs a Drush update command in simulation mode so updates are not actually performed. The “--pipe” option outputs the results in a compact way to make it easier to script the output results.

After completing the update check, you can delete the “update_check_disabled” variable if you no longer want the “Available updates” report to show the status of all projects.


  • Run the drush commands from a fully installed Drupal installation
  • If you don’t have Drush installed, get it! See install docs here.

Drush commands

$ drush vset update_check_disabled 1 -y && drush --simulate --pipe --no up

Sample output

update_check_disabled was set to 1.                     [success]
Executing: wget --version
drupal 7.15 7.16 SECURITY-UPDATE-available
metatag 7.x-1.0-alpha8 7.x-1.0-beta1 Update-available
boron 7.x-1.3 7.x-1.4 Update-available

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