Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X, macOS > Managing the automatic download of the macOS Sierra installer to compatible Macs

Managing the automatic download of the macOS Sierra installer to compatible Macs

As was reported today, Apple is beginning to automatically download the macOS Sierra installer to compatible Macs. The installation process is not automatic, much like installing the macOS Sierra upgrade via the App Store. Instead, the macOS Sierra installation application will automatically download to /Applications.

Screen-Shot-2016-10-03-at-5.45.58-PM.png

Once finished downloading, the logged-in user will be alerted that the upgrade is available.

sierra_upgrade_prompt

For environments where this automatic download is undesirable, there is a way to block it. For more details, see below the jump.

If you do not want the automatic download of the macOS Sierra installer application to occur, one important thing to know is that the Software Update function on the system in question must be set to automatically download updates in the background.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-6-08-15-pm

If this option is disabled, the macOS Sierra installer application will not download automatically.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-6-08-19-pm

You can manage this via the command line using the defaults command. To enable the automatic downloading of updates using the defaults command line tool, run the following command with root privileges:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate AutomaticDownload -bool TRUE

To disable the automatic downloading of updates using defaults, run the following command with root privileges:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate AutomaticDownload -bool FALSE

 

 


Update: 10-4-2016 – I made a mistake in my initial research of this issue, where I thought that the automatic check for updates needed to be disabled. Only the automatic download of updates needs to be disabled. Thank you to those folks who alerted me to the fact that I had the wrong information.


One other way to make certain that the macOS Sierra installer application will not download is to disable the automatic check for updates.

Screen-Shot-2016-10-03-at-5.40.03-PM.png

Without the automatic update check being enabled, the Mac will not check in for updates at all and background downloading of updates like the macOS Sierra installer application is automatically disabled.

Screen-Shot-2016-10-03-at-5.40.08-PM.png

Note: Disabling the automatic update check will also disable Gatekeeper, XProtect and SIP-related updates.

To control the automatic update check using the softwareupdate command line tool, run the following commands with root privileges:

To enable the automatic update check:

softwareupdate --schedule on

To disable the automatic update check:

softwareupdate --schedule off

You can also manage this using the defaults command. To enable the automatic update check using the defaults command line tool, run the following command with root privileges:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate AutomaticCheckEnabled -bool TRUE

To disable the automatic update check using defaults, run the following command with root privileges:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate AutomaticCheckEnabled -bool FALSE
  1. Marc Thoma
    October 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Rich, isn’t it just the first option “Download newly available updates…” that needs to be turned off? I didn’t think you would have to completely turn off everything.

    • October 3, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      You’re right, and I’ve now made that correction.

  2. pcrandom
    October 4, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Rich, thank you, I was hoping you’d write on this topic. Have you seen the macOS Sierra upgrade download automatically yet? I am hoping that it actually appears as an update under softwareupdate –list –all so that I can then ignore it using softwareupdate –ignore, because I would like to have OS X continue to download other updates in the background if possible.

    On a semi-related note, is there any way to suppress the “You will be notified when the updates are ready to be installed” aspect of the AutomaticDownload setting? I’d like the Macs I manage to download updates in the background so they’re ready to go, but control when users are actually prompted to install.

  3. Guest
    October 4, 2016 at 11:47 am

    I would not turn off the final option (‘Install system data files and security updates’). This controls File Quarantine and Gatekeeper.

  4. Travis
    January 12, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Doesn’t disabling auto-check for updates also prevent XProtect & Gatekeeper from updating as well?

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