Take control of OS X updates - stop, hide, show, install them

Keep your Apple Mac up to date, but take control of updates and only download that are useful and safe

You can let OS X (soon to be macOS) handle all updates automatically or you can choose to take control what is installed, when it is installed, and hide updates you don’t want. Here’s how to do it.

We have looked at Mac App store annoyances before, and sometimes OS X and application updates are installed at an inconvenient time, such as when you need to get work done for a deadline. You can’t afford the down time and waiting for a big update to install can be frustrating. You might need to put off updating until a future date.

Not all updates are necessary and if your Mac and apps are working fine, why risk upsetting the system with new updates? Security updates are important and should be installed of course, but not all updates that are available are essential.

Sometimes an app works great and then one day it is updated with new features or ways of working that just don’t suit you. Have you ever wished you could go back to the previous version of an app? There is no easy way to do that.

If you travel with a MacBook and use Wi-Fi hotspots or, worse still, use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, you might not want it automatically downloading a huge OS X update. Some past ones have been hundreds of megabytes. That will eat up the data plan on your phone or hotspot.

For these reasons, and others, you might want to disable automatic updates and put them off until:

1. System Preferences

Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Click the App Store icon.

App Store preferences in System Preferences on the Apple Mac running El Capitan

By default, most of the items are ticked, but is that really the best configuration? A complete control freak would clear all the ticks. This does not prevent you finding and installing updates, it just stops the Mac doing it automatically.

2 Check for updates

Turn everything off in System Preferences and you can still open the Mac App Store app and select the Updates tab. The app will then check for updates and after a minute or so, it lists them, letting you choose the updates you want to download and install. It puts you firmly in control.

The Updates tab of the Mac App Store app in OS X on the Apple Mac

Each update has a separate UPDATE button.This enables you to choose which updates to apply and you can ignore those you either don’t want to install right now, or never want to install.

3 Update options

Click the little down arrow at the right of the UPDATE ALL button and there is a menu with some useful options. If you leave your Mac running overnight (some people do), you could select Try Tonight.

Update options in the Mac App Store app in OS X on the Apple Mac

You could select Remind me Tomorrow or simply ignore the updates until you need them and have the time to install them.

4 Hide and show updates

If you right click or Ctrl+click on an update, there is an option to hide it. This is useful if you don’t want an update and don’t want to be nagged into installing it.

The exact place you right click is a bit vague, so try it in different places until the Hide Update option pops up.

At some point in the future you might want to install a hidden update, or at least see what has been hidden - it is easy to forget. Go to the Store menu and select Show All Software Updates.



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