How to uninstall software updates on Mac

In almost all cases, having your Mac set to automatically install updates to macOS, using the options in System Settings > General > Software Update, is a good thing. It ensures that your Mac is always running the most up-to-date version of whichever generation of macOS is installed. That, in turn, means it is likely to be protected from malware and free from known bugs. However, there may be some instances where you don’t want to run the most up-to-date OS version. For example, if an application you rely on doesn’t support it. And if you don’t discover that until after the update, you may need to uninstall software updates on your Mac. We’ll show you how to do that.

What do we mean by ‘uninstall software updates on Mac’?

There are three things you may need to do that fall under this heading:

  1. Remove installer files that should have been deleted but weren’t.
  2. Switch from, say, macOS 13.1 to macOS 13.0.
  3. Uninstall a whole generation of macOS — say, revert Sonoma to a previous generation, Ventura, or downgrade from Ventura to Monterey.

We’ll cover each of those.


If you need to uninstall an app rather than the operating system, the best way to do it is to use an application designed for the purpose. Why? Because if you just drag the application binary to the Trash, you will leave behind lots of files scattered around your Mac, taking up space and potentially conflicting with other files later on. We recommend CleanMyMac X. Its Uninstaller is quick, easy to use, and, in addition to uninstalling apps completely, can reset them to the state they were in when they were first installed. You can download it for free here.

All apps selected in the Uninstaller module of CMMX

How to delete software update files

Normally, when your Mac updates, whether you do it manually or it does automatically, your computer stores the update files in a folder in the Library directory and then deletes them as soon as the installation is complete.

However, occasionally, if the installation fails, for example, the files may be left behind. You can check whether update files have been left by following the steps below.

  1. In the Finder, click on the Go menu.
  2. Choose Go to Folder.
  3. Type: Library/Updates
  4. Check that folder for installer packages or other files that are not text files.

If there are no files there other than the plist text files, you don’t need to do anything else. If there are other files, you can remove them to free up space. Deleting these software update files is absolutely safe. However, they are likely to be protected by System Integrity Protection (SIP), so you can’t just drag them into the Trash. You will first need to turn off SIP.

This is something you should only do if you’re comfortable using Terminal, as it can cause problems for your Mac if not done properly.

First, boot your Mac into recovery mode.

For an Intel-based Mac:

  1. Go to Apple menu > Restart.
  2. Immediately press and hold Command+R.
  3. Don’t release the keys until you hear Mac’s startup sound or until the Apple logo appears.

For a Mac with Apple silicon:

  1. When turning on your Mac, press and hold the Power button.
  2. Keep it pressed until you see startup options.
  3. Click the Gears icon (Options) and hit Continue.
  4. You may be asked to select a user and enter their administrator password. Follow on-screen instructions and press Next after any action you take.

Now, follow these steps:

  1. When your Mac restarts, click the menu at the top of the screen and choose Terminal.
  2. Paste the following command: csutil disable
  3. Restart your Mac normally.
  4. Launch Terminal from Applications > Utilities.
  5. Type: sudo rm and drag the first file you want to delete onto the Terminal window.
  6. Press Return.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the other installer files.
  8. When you’ve removed all the installer files, restart your Mac in recovery mode, launch Terminal, and type csutil enable
  9. Restart your Mac normally.

How to revert to a previous update

There’s no way to restore your Mac to a previous version of the OS before you install an update. However, if your Mac has an Intel CPU and is still running the same generation of OS as it was when you bought it, there is something you can do. For example, if your Mac came with Monterey installed, and you want to restore it to a previous version of Monterey.

  1. Go to Apple menu > Restart.
  2. Press and hold Command+R until you see the Apple logo.
  3. Choose Reinstall macOS from macOS Utilities.
  4. The version of macOS that came with your Mac will be installed, and you can then download updates from Apple to update it to the version you want.

How to downgrade to a previous generation of macOS

Reverting back a whole generation of macOS, say from Ventura to Monterey, is time-consuming and complicated. You need to back up your Mac and then wipe the disk completely. You can read how to do it here.

And if you want to downgrade from Sonoma to Ventura, check this article.

How to make sure you’ve deleted all the update files

Even if you manually remove all the files in Library/Updates, it’s possible there may be other files in your Library folder left behind by previous updates. The best way to make sure you get rid of all the software update files and all the rest of the unneeded files on your Mac is to use a specialist tool. CleanMyMac X has just such a tool called System Junk. It scans your Mac, looking for ‘junk’ files that should have already been deleted but weren’t. You can then delete them all safely in one go.

Removing leftover files from previous software updates is necessary to free up storage space on your Mac and prevent future conflicts. Follow the steps above to do that or to roll back to a previous version of macOS.

Frequently asked questions

Should I set my Mac to automatically update?

Yes, in most cases, it’s a very good idea to keep your Mac up to date.

Where are update files stored?

They are temporarily stored in /Library/Updates but should be deleted automatically when the update completes.

Is it possible to downgrade to a previous macOS?

Yes, depending on the version you want to downgrade to and the Mac you have, you should be able to roll back to the previous OS it was running.

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