Fix OS X El Capitan Beta Updates Not Showing in Software Update

Sep 5, 2015 - 28 Comments

Show missing beta updates in OS X

If you’re a Mac user who is beta testing OS X El Capitan, either as part of the OS X Public Beta program or as a registered Mac Developer, you may have come across a situation where the latest available update does not appear for you in the Mac App Store as it should. For example, let’s say you’re trying to access OS X 10.11 Public Beta 6 and it won’t show as available, but you know it hasn’t been installed on the Mac yet. Usually this can be resolved by going to the Updates tab and hitting Command+R to refresh the updates, but if that doesn’t work you may need to manually intervene and set the software update download catalog again.


Remember, you will only want to do this if you’re actually testing the OS X El Capitan betas, if you attempt to set the software update catalog manually to a beta feed, you will likely break OS X updates and they won’t show up at all. Also note there are two different URLs to choose from, depending on if the Mac is set up to be a testing the OS X Public Beta, or the OS X Developer Beta (or if you happen to be enrolled in both beta programs, you can switch between the two using these commands, but that’s sort of off topic). Finally, be certain that you have not manually opted out of receiving beta updates through System Preferences, which also could be preventing the proper beta updates from displaying.

Whether you’re in the Public Beta program or the Developer Beta program, open the Terminal app and enter the appropriate command string from the choices below:

Public Beta tester? Set the OS X Public Beta catalog:

If you’re part of the Mac OS Public Beta testing program and want to set that as the appropriate software catalog stream, use this:

sudo softwareupdate --set-catalog https://swscan.apple.com/content/catalogs/others/index-10.11beta-10.11-10.10-10.9-mountainlion-lion-snowleopard-leopard.merged-1.sucatalog.gz

Registered Mac Developer? Set the OS X Developer Beta catalog:

If you’re a registered Mac Developer and you want to set the Mac Developer Beta software catalog stream, use this:
sudo softwareupdate --set-catalog https://swscan.apple.com/content/catalogs/others/index-10.11seed-10.11-10.10-10.9-mountainlion-lion-snowleopard-leopard.merged-1.sucatalog.gz

GM Seed

The OS X 10.11 seed catalog URL is as follows:
sudo softwareupdate --set-catalog https://swscan.apple.com/content/catalogs/others/index-10.11-10.10-10.9-mountainlion-lion-snowleopard-leopard.merged-1.sucatalog.gz

Confirming the Software Update Catalog Change Worked

Once you have set the catalog to the appropriate URL, you can quickly verify the change was effective by using the softwareupdate command to list all available updates:

softwareupdate --list

You can then either return to the App Store and install the beta update as usual, or if you want to stay in the Terminal app you can install OS X updates from the command line too by specifying the package to install.

How to Reset to the Default OS X Software Update Catalog

If you messed up the syntax or otherwise just want to reset back to the default software update catalog stream, use the following command string:

softwareupdate --clear-catalog

Again, you will only need to do this if you attempted to refresh the App Store with Command + R and it did not work to display the available beta software update.

Thanks to Tolakipaki and ‘CONFIRMED’ for offering the specific update strings and accompanying details in our comments section, and to SixColors for offering a similar solution a few months back. Why the updates stop appearing at random for some users isn’t really clear, but fortunately it’s an easy solution.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

28 Comments

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  1. John says:

    Thanks will try the above.

  2. Michael Durio says:

    Nope. This just doesn’t work.

    I have been unable to see/access/download the latest El Capitan Public Beta. Will probably call Support at Big Fruit to see if they can offer any advice, but I’m pretty sure they are unable to offer any info or support on the Public Betas.

    I’ve been in the Public Beta program(s) ever since Apple instituted them. This is the only time I’ve been totally stymied accessing an update. I’ve experienced consistent delays between the time reports of an update surfaced online and when I have been able to access the update through the App Store Update process; no biggie. It would appear that Apple rolls out the update access just to keep server loads under control. But this is totally different.

    Ultimately it’s no skin off my nose, but I do file copious bug reports and enjoy being part of the process.

    Might be time to just sit back and wait for the actual product release instead of acting as an unpaid development intern for Apple. They can damn well afford to pay people to do the necessary field testing for their software.

    • Patrick M. says:

      “I do file copious bug reports and enjoy being part of the process.”

      Thanks for actually being involved and not just being one of those clowns who runs the betas just to be cool and then complains when doesn’t work.

    • Davis Rose says:

      I file a lot of bug reports to Apple as well, unfortunately they always ignore them and the bugs end up in the final release. Started reporting many bugs in the first 10.10 betas, and here we are with 10.10.5 and the bugs are still there. And, wait for it, the bugs still exist in OS X El Capitan too. The bug reporting is a feel good measure, but Apple clearly ignores them.

  3. Robert says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have been trying to figure out why both developers update and public updates where not working. Using your terminal fix did the job

  4. steve says:

    Tried this, still get nothing. Still on public beta 5 – 15A278b, can’t access this version 6 that’s supposedly out there.

  5. kazuba says:

    Works for me. But I say install GM or 10.11.1

  6. Dan says:

    This didn’t work for me either, after no previous problems with beta releases. I first set the string for beta program, and software update showed nothing new. I then tried the string for GM Seed. Nada.
    I guess there’s nothing to do but wait.

  7. David says:

    My purchased from App Store shows El Capitan GM Candidate downloaded (grey out) but my version from About This Mac still shows 15A278b.

    • Nathan says:

      Same here, the El Capitan GM Candidate is downloaded and grayed out. It doesn’t seem to be in the Applications folder either. Anyone know where the temporary directory is?

      • Trav says:

        It’s showing in my purchased tab as a greyed out downloaded and the installer is nowhere to be found on my system at all. Can’t re-download or anything I’m currently on Public Beta 6 build strange.
        Edit: Turns out I had the installer for the Public Beta still laying around on my hd and missed it, so if anyone else is having similar issues check everywhere to make sure you didn’t have an installer from the beta still

        sudo find / -name *Capitan* should find where the file is, for me it was in /

  8. Keith says:

    Tried this but still nothing appears.

  9. Jan says:

    I have been enrolled in the public beta program and all my updates have actually been a piece of cake – until now. I received the email from Apple regarding the GM, but nothing shows up in Purchased (except OS X Yosemite). I have tried all the terminal kung-fu exercises given here but nothing seems to work. I even tried enrolling in the public beta program again but it won’t allow me since my code is already redeemed.Any tips ?? Help!

    • Dan says:

      I had the same situation, what just worked for me was to use the command to return to production value, then reenroll in beta program. I got a new code, and the GM showed up in Purchased.
      Seems everyone is meeting different behavior.

    • Sean says:

      Same thing exactly for me. Tried that command line thing above (I know nothing about Terminal and am sort of sorry I even tried), but nothing changed. Previous El Capital updates deployed just fine. I guess I’ll wait until the official release.

  10. Vern says:

    For some reason, I had to set my Air to factory settings, but intend to reinstall public beta of El Capitan, which of course, I wasn’t allowed to because of code having been used already. Any way around this? I’ve tried the script given above because Command+R doesn’t work but to no success. However, GM Candidate is trying to download now. Hope anyone can help. Thanks in advance.

  11. EM says:

    Here’s another possible fix from another site – I’m testing right now, I think it’s safe to say you can skip number 3 and go from there. Good luck everyone, having the same issue with the new GM installer being greyed out in the App Store purchases page. Thanks and credit to this user on Neosmart.com

    “Boyd on September 10, 2015 at 4:33 pm said:
    Thanks everyone for these helpful comments.

    I ran into this as well. Since I was following the solutions people have shared here, I did things in this order:

    1. sudo softwareupdate –clear-catalog
    2. Re-ran the (old) installer which rebooted once, but had no other apparent effect. Still on Public Beta 6.
    3. Deleted the “Install OS X El Capitan Public Beta.app” in /Applications
    4. Deleted “OS X Install Data” that was left in / (the root of my filesystem).
    5. Opened App Store
    6. Purchases — The GM is now available and I’m downloading it again.

    I suspect that ALL you have to do, if you are running into this, is simply delete the previous Install Public Beta app in /Applications.

    I think that all the other things are side-effects me re-running the beta installer.”

    • EM says:

      Sorry meant skip #2!!

      • EM says:

        And confirmed, the download button reappeared after following these steps – I did start running the old installer but cancelled it before the restart – then used the terminal with the above commands, changed the catalog to the GM copy and then used the update / list command – then opened app store after deleting / emptying trash of the installer and remaining OS X Install folder on the root (Mac HD) – download button reappeared after re-running App Store and hitting CMD+R.

        Good luck everyone!

    • zanzibar says:

      If OS X El Capitan GM installer is not showing up in the Mac App Store, here’s what you can do:

      – Quit App Store

      – Remove the file called “Install OS X El Capitan Public Beta.app” in /Applications

      – Reboot the Mac, relaunch App Store

      – Go to Purchases tab and find the OS X El Capitan GM Candidate there to download

      If you have the beta installer laying around it will conflict with El Cap GM. Enjoy, the GM is good!

  12. 90xj02tj says:

    I went to App Store purchased tab and as mentioned above El Capitan GM Candidate was greyed out and showed as being downloaded. I spent several hours trying to figure this out with many of the above suggestions tried without success. Then I tried the following command posted by Trav: sudo find / -name *Capitan* after several minutes the “Install OS X El Capitan Public Beta.app appeared in my external hard drive. I thought no way but after disconnecting the external hard drive I went to the App Store and I’m now able to download! WHEW!!! The key is disabling or deleting that file.

  13. Dibs says:

    I am unable to find the Install OS X El Capitan Public Beta.app under applications or anywhere else. However my system version shows 10.11 Beta (15A278b). Also the latest OS X El Capitan Public Beta 6 is already upgraded but nothing shows in purchase for the GM update. Tried everything but can’t find the app to delete.

    Any suggestion or help please…

  14. Adrian Bool says:

    In my Purchases list, “OSX El Capitan GM Update” was listed as “Downloaded” – but it did not exist on my hard drive.

    The issue was that I had kept a copy of “OSX El Capitan Beta” on a second hard drive that was attached to the Mac.

    Resolution of the issue was by deleting the “OSX El Capitan Beta” – including emptying trash (which I missed at first) – after which the “Downloaded” button reverted to a “Download” button and allowed me to then download the GM.

    Some sketchy code on Apple’s part I think!

  15. Jan says:

    Same here…….had no problems with the betas before until GM. GM not showing up under Purchases and no new updates either, for instance 10.11.1 Public Beta

  16. penkzhou says:

    from here https://forums.developer.apple.com/thread/19862

    15A279 is Public Beta 6 and so the GM (Golden Master) would have been the logical progression for you to upgrade to from there. The GM is a release candidate – a candidate in the sense that it is hoped that the software is sufficiently stable and fully featured at this point to be classed as good enough for release.

    Becasuse it is a release candidate, there is no “update” available from Beta 6 to the GM – the GM requires a full installation, just as a release version of OS X does (that’s not to say that it wipes your drive before installation – your user environment, your data, apps, etc. remain untouched).

    So, before you could update to 10.11.1, you would have needed to download and install the 10.11 GM. As part of the Public Beta program, you should have got an email about this a few weeks ago.

    Unfortunately though, you’ve missed the boat for getting the GM because the program moved to offering 10.11.1 yesterday. This means that, because you don’t already have the El Capitan GM installed, it’s too late and you will have to wait for the final version to be released in 6 days.

    Once you’ve installed the final release version, you’ll have access to 10.11.1 through the Beta Program of course.

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