How to turn off automatic updates on a Mac

Automatic Mac App updates can be useful. These will automatically run in the background and save you a little time, keeping apps fully up-to-date. But not everyone wants this feature. It can be better to know exactly what you are downloading, even if you’ve been using the same app. 

In this article, we look at the ways you can prevent automatic app updates on a Mac. There are a few ways you can do this and apps that can make it quicker and easier to ensure you’ve only got the apps you need running on your Mac. 

#1: Change update preferences (on the latest macOS versions)

  1. Go to the  Apple menu.
  2. Click App Store.
  3. Now click App Store menu > Preferences. 
  4. In this is a box for Automatic Updates (if checked by default, uncheck the box to disable automatic updates)

In the future, when an app you've downloaded through the Mac App Store has an update coming through, you will be alerted, but it can’t download until you manually confirm it. 

Depending on the macOS or older Mac OS X version, there are other ways to disable automatic updates. For these, we've covered Mac OS X High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks in the tip below — as they follow the same process — and older operating systems in another tip further down the article. 

#2: Disable automatic updates (For Mac OS X High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks)

With older operating systems — Mac OS X High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks — the process is slightly different from the one listed above for stopping auto app updates. 

  1. Go to the  Apple menu.
  2. Click on App Store. 
  3. Now click on Preferences.
  4. Uncheck ALL of the following boxes to prevent automatic updates: 
  • Automatically check for updates
  • Download newly available updates in the background
  • Install app updates

However, leave the following box enabled (as this is crucial for security): Install system data files and security updates.

#3: Delete Google Automatic updaters and other background agents

With some apps, they update and even run in the background without you being aware. 

These are known as background apps, and with some, they have launch agents that activate whenever a Mac is switched on. This potentially uses processing power, such as CPU and internet bandwidth. Apps shouldn't be working unless you need them and agree to open them. 

Here is how to prevent this from happening: 

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (for free, here).
  2. Click on the Optimization module.
  3. There is a Launch Agents tool within this.
  4. Use it to disable automatic updates and notifications and even disable Google Automatic updaters and other background apps and launch agents. 

#4: For third-party apps, you can also disable updates within individual app settings 

Not everyone downloads apps on a Mac from the Mac App Store. 

In many cases, people get them straight from a developer's website or third-party subscription service. 

With these, you need to go into the individual apps and open the settings by pressing Command-Comma, where you should have the option to enable automatic updates or switch this setting off. With these apps, they will be configured to adhere to macOS standards, so these options should come as a normal feature, ensuring they're easy to update, or not, according to what people prefer. 

Before we continue, here is a cool Apple fact for you

Have you ever noticed the date shown on created and modified timestamps that have failed to download, or you canceled or paused during a download?

Take a look. Instead of showing whichever date the download stopped, they show 24 January 1984 — the day Apple founder, Steve Jobs, unveiled the first Apple Macintosh computer to the world.

#5: Another way to keep your software updated 

As mentioned above, CleanMyMac X is a great way to prevent automatic updates and remove unwanted background apps. It can also be used in a reverse way — for updating all your applications. 

The free version of CleanMyMac X (download it here) comes with an Updater feature to keep all of your updates in one place — whether or not you got them from the Mac App Store. It’s especially handy for 32-bit apps that will no longer work on newer macOS versions. But if there are newer, 64-bit versions of these apps already available, the Updater in CleanMyMac X will suggest updating your Mac automatically.

It is also useful for keeping your Mac free from viruses and other problems that can cause a Mac to slow down. Get your Mac running as well as new, and make sure you’re only downloading the apps you definitely need. 

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