How to Selectively Install Updates from MacOS Software Update

Sep 17, 2019 - 12 Comments

How to install specific updates only in MacOS software update

Sometimes when you check for available macOS software updates in System Preferences you’ll find there are multiple software updates available for different things, for example there might be a Safari update, alongside a macOS supplemental update, along with a security update, or firmware update. But what if you only want to install one of those updates and not everything?

This article will show you how to selectively install software updates on the Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14, MacOS Catalina 10.15, and presumably onward where software updates are delivered through the System Preference panel.

How to Install Specific Software Updates Only on Mac

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” and then go to the “Software Update” preference panel as usual
  2. Click the small light blue text that says “More info…”
  3. Click on More Info to install specific software updates only on Mac

  4. Uncheck any software updates you do not want to install yet, then click on “Install Now” to install only the checked software updates
  5. Uncheck updates you do not want to install, then click on install now to selectively install specific updates on Mac OS

  6. Let Software Update install the updates to the Mac as usual
  7. Installing specific software updates on Mac

Recall that many system software updates require a reboot of the Mac, and all system software updates should be preceded with a full recent backup of the Mac.

In the example here, an update to Safari was installed, while a broader system software update was ignored for the time being.

This can be helpful for many reasons, whether you’re avoiding a particular software update package for some reason, or perhaps you just don’t want to reboot the computer yet so you don’t want to install updates requiring a system reboot. Or perhaps you want to install Mac OS system updates using a Combo Update and therefore want to ignore those updates while you continue to install other updates through System Preferences. Whatever the reason, it’s an easy choice.

Whatever the motivation, it’s easy to selectively choose specific software updates to install right now, or to delay until later on the Mac.

Any system software update that is not yet installed will continue to show up as available in the Software Update control panel on the Mac, unless it has been pulled or replaced by another update by Apple.

Remember, this applies only to installing system software updates and updates delivery through the Software Update mechanism of macOS. That is different from installing and updating apps on the Mac, which is typically done by updating apps from the Mac App Store or where they were downloaded from, be it the developer website, or even directly through the app itself.

Another option exists for more advanced users too, and that’s installing Mac OS software updates through the command line Terminal, which also allows you to selectively install specific updates.

Of course if you use automatic updates for macOS system software then this won’t be particularly relevant to you, since auto-update will install all available software updates when they become available, so keep that in mind when determining your settings and how you update your Mac.

Do you have any tips, tricks, suggestions, or ideas about installing selective software updates on the Mac? Share your thoughts and comments below!


Related articles:

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


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  1. Adam Golightly says:

    My dad is having a lot of problems when he tries to install the MAC software that he needs for his brand new iPhone but none of the kids can go and help him. It could be really useful for him to talk to a professional that could be able to install it for him. I’ll be sure to tell him about how hs should make sure to only select the software that he wants to have now and he can postpone others.

  2. Goob says:

    This article is great, thanks so much for the help

  3. david watts says:

    I would like to know how to remove the red dot on the system prefs icon in the dock when I choose not to update a software. I am quite happy with my current version of Mojave and do not want to install an upgrade when it comes along. But I expect the red dot will sit there until I do. Is there any way I can let Apple know I’m thankful for their offer but my choice is to “just say no” so that the red dot will fade away?

    • iton says:

      No not easily, the red dot badge for software updates will persist whether you install updates or not.

      I too am staying with the current macOS for the foreseeable future, the system runs fine for me so there is no need to update or change anything.

      • david watts says:

        Thank you for your reply. I can live with the dot but it seems like Apple’s way of insisting that I follow their guidance instead of allowing me to make my own choices. Not a very good business model I’d say but then again I’m from the old school.

    • Séb Vaucaire says:

      You can disable the red ‘badge’ with this Terminal command:

      defaults write AttentionPrefBundleIDs 0

      Then hit Return.

      Next use this command to relaunch the Dock:

      killall Dock

      The badge will most likely reappear when another update is launched so you’ll have to repeat the procedure.

  4. David Crowe says:

    I cannot use this website now since the Safari 13.0 update. Just get the spinning wheel

  5. Geoff B says:

    I’ve never noticed the “more info” link but usually ignore the “updates available” pop-up and go to the App Store, then updates to see what is in the queue to be downloaded / installed and select from there. That action cancels the “Updates available” pop-up. Effectively another way to do what you described above (not as easy it appears though).

    • bitaon says:

      The More Info text is so small I am not surprised if you missed it, much of the Mac UI is hard to use and see now.

      But new macOS versions use Software Update in system preferences to update system software, whereas other versions used App Store to update system software. And long ago system software also arrived from System Preferences, so we have come full circle :)

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