Core Computing Blog

A Caution About Apple's Auto Download of Sierra

In a significant departure from the past, as of this morning (October 4, 2016), Apple has changed their methodology for upgrading your Mac’s operating system.

Today, if your Mac is able to run Sierra, Apple is now pushing out the update without asking permission. This is going to surprise a lot of people and many users will be confused about what to do. The good news is that even though Apple downloads it, they don’t automatically install it. However, they do open a window that asks the user for permission to install, but based on experience we expect a lot of users to approve the install without being totally aware of what they are doing. 

Again, this is something that is not unusual, but it does carry some risk. Many updates and upgrades to software, including software from Apple, will often have issues on various machines and in different environments that Apple didn’t anticipate. In other words, bugs, and sometimes they are bugs that will stop your ability to do your work. This is a major reason why the better IT providers prefer to control software installations. It is their job to know what works and what doesn’t, and by knowing that, they are able to keep your computers up and running and make sure your company continues to be productive.

Historically speaking, every operating system upgrade brings unanticipated problems, some of which can have a big negative impact. This is why we always recommend NOT installing operating system upgrades and updates when they are first available. It’s best to let it wait for at least a week or two before moving forward. In the case of major upgrades from one system version to another, we have found that it is best to wait for the second or even third update to the new OS before doing the initial upgrade. 

So the question now is, how can you avoid having Apple download software on your computer that you may not want or need. And by doing so, helping you to avoid accidentally clicking through and letting it install when you really didn’t mean to.

There are a couple of simple things that you should do.

First, click on the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen. Select “System Preferences” and click on it. In the case of older operating systems (OS X 10.8 and older) when System Preferences opens, click on the Software Updates button and make sure that the option for automatic updates is NOT checked. If it is checked, click on the box to uncheck it. When you’re finished, it should look something like this:




In the case of newer versions of Mac OS X (10.9 and later) you will have a preference pane called App Store Preferences which controls how your Mac does updates. When you find that button, click on it to access the settings and click the boxes to look like the window below:



In both cases this will leave your system ready to install security updates when released, but will still allow you to decline any downloads that Apple wants to push to your system. And if you really want total control, you can simply uncheck the option to Automatically check for updates. This will completely stop any automatic updates of any kind from Apple.

Second, if your Mac has already downloaded the installer for Mac OS X v. 10.12 (Sierra), should you see a dialog box appear asking if you want to upgrade to the new version of the Mac operating system, do NOT allow it to install. If you have already allowed it to install, don’t worry… you computing world is not in danger of collapsing. It’s just that this initial release of Sierra is just a little too bug ridden for comfort. In our opinion, we would like everyone to wait a bit longer to avoid any unnecessary issues. I’d rather have you wait for version 12.2 or 12.3 before doing the upgrade. If you are having issues with your Mac under the system that you currently have installed, let me know and we can talk about a solution.

For those clients of ours who are under our Managed Services plan, you can pretty much disregard this post as we will have already taken care of everything for you.

If you need clarification on any of this or want some help with taking care of this task, just let us know and we will get together on a phone call and get things configured to suit your needs.

We can be reached during office hours at 847-675-3513 or 24/7 by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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