How To Control Automatic Updates in OS X 10.9 Mavericks

How To Control Automatic Updates in OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Let’s face it, not having to worry about checking for app and operating system updates is great. So, with that thought in mind Apple ported iOS 7’s automatic update function over to Mavericks. But what if you want to have some control over whether or not updates get automatically downloaded and/or installed? Here’s how to set your Mac’s update settings to what you’ll feel comfortable with.


One quick note before we begin: Automatic updates are only performed for the operating system and for apps you download and install via the Mac App Store. Any apps you’ve installed that come from third-party developers who don’t sell their wares via the Mac App Store still need to be updated manually.

To change your Mac’s automatic update settings, simply go into “System Preferences” -> “App Store.” Here, you’ll see a checkbox that says “Automatically check for updates.” If you have this checked, your Mac will automatically check to see if any app or operating system updates are available in the Mac App Store. What it does from there is up to you.

Just below that checkbox, you’ll see 3 sub-option checkboxes you can use to set how you want your Mac to do if it sees available updates.

The first sub-option, “Download newly available updates in the background,” if selected, will automatically download updates in the background, and will then tell you when they’re ready to be installed.

The second sub-option, “Install app updates,” will tell your Mac to go ahead and install app updates in the background, and will then notify you when the updates have been performed.

The third sub-option, “Install system data files and security updates,” will install operating system updates in the background, and will inform you when they are installed.

By toggling these checkboxes, you can control what your Mac will do when it sees that there are updates available. Or, you can simply turn automatic update checking completely off, and then manually check and perform updates, just like you did in previous versions of OS X.

The last checkbox in this screen bears mentioning, that one, “Automatically download apps purchased on other Macs,” if checked, will automatically download any apps you may have purchased on another Mac using the same Apple ID you use on this machine. Very handy if you own multiple Macs and want the same apps to be present on any Mac you use.


One final note, no matter how your customize your Mac’s update settings, you can always view all of the previously installed updates by opening the Mac App Store, and clicking on the “Updates” tab. There, you’ll find a list of all updates that have been installed on your Mac in the last 30 days.

There you have it, by toggling just a few checkboxes you can regain control over how your Mac updates its apps and the OS X Mavericks operating system.

As we mentioned before, you can also control automatic updates in iOS 7. To find out how, be sure to read “How To Control Automatic Updates in iOS 7.”

For more helpful tips, check out our full collection of tutorials by visiting our How-To category!

  1. Kaeru says:

    I was wondering if its possible to schedule when it can download updates, i.e. when I am not being metered for data usage.

  2. WallyMcdoogle says:

    Me too. We’re in the boondocks and Dish has late night data rates I’d like to schedule the updates for.

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