How to Disable Red Badge Circle on System Preferences in MacOS

May 12, 2020 - 16 Comments

How to hide the red badge icon from MacOS System Preferences

System Preferences in MacOS shows a red badge circle icon when there is an available software update for the Mac. This can be helpful for users who want to be notified of software updates, but it can be annoying to other Mac users who are specifically avoiding a particular software update.

For example, many Mac users who are ignoring Catalina may have chosen to hide MacOS Catalina software update notifications and prompts but may still see the red update badge icon on their System Preferences icon.

This article will show you how you can hide and disable the red updates badge from appearing on the System Preferences icon in the Dock on modern macOS releases including Mojave and Catalina.

How to Hide Red Badge Updates Icon from System Preferences on MacOS

Disabling the red update badge from the System Preferences icon involves using the Terminal, if you’re not comfortable with the command line it’s better to avoid using these commands as they are for advanced Mac users.

  1. Launch the Terminal application
  2. Mac Terminal icon

  3. Enter the following syntax exactly at the command line:
  4. defaults write com.apple.systempreferences AttentionPrefBundleIDs 0 && killall Dock
    Hide the red badge icon from system preferences on Mac

  5. Hit return, the Dock will refresh automatically and the System Preferences icon will no longer show the red updates badge
  6. Red badge hidden from the MacOS System Preferences icon

  7. Quit Terminal when finished

Most users won’t want to do this if they want to see the red badge icon when software updates are available. But if you’re specifically avoiding a software update, or if you’re just selectively installing specific system software updates in MacOS, then you may appreciate having the ability to hide the red badge icon.

Hide the red update badge in MacOS System Preferences

If you’re having issues with the command above, you can also choose to break down the command into two separate components if you’d prefer to, with the first part being the defaults write command:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences AttentionPrefBundleIDs 0

And the second component being a refresh of the Dock by using the killall Dock command:

killall Dock

The end effect is the same; the red updates badge will be missing from the System Preferences dock icon in macOS.

How to Show Red Badge Icon on System Preferences in MacOS Again

Returning to the default setting which shows the red badge icon is easy, just change the 0 to 1 in the aforementioned command like so:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences AttentionPrefBundleIDs 1 && killall Dock

Again hit Return to execute the command and the Dock will refresh, showing the red badge updates icon again.

Note this way of hiding the red icon is specific to the System Preferences red badge icon that shows when software updates are available. For other apps that show red badges, you can disable red badges for other app icons in Mac OS through Notifications preferences and you won’t need to use any terminal or command line to hide those, that can all be handled directly through the graphical user interface instead.

This trick also only pertains to modern versions of MacOS where the System Preferences are where system software updates are delivered. In earlier Mac OS X releases where system software updates were delivered from the App Store, this method will not work.

Did you hide the red badge icon for software updates in MacOS? Did you disable the red icon because you’re avoiding and ignoring the MacOS Catalina update on a Mac, or for another reason? Do you know of another approach to disabling or hiding the red badge icon on System Preferences? Share your experiences, thoughts, and comments below!

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

16 Comments

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  1. Ted Farmer says:

    Is there also a way to disable the red badge on the App Store icon? Thanks

  2. Alan says:

    Hi! I really need to do this for Whastapp desktop app for MAC.
    I bought a new mac and installed whatsapp from appstore.
    Whatsapp won´t showont the notifications setting as it did on my previews mac.
    Can you help? Really need to turn off the badge icon!

  3. Matt says:

    Thanks! It seems that after doing the initial steps running the command to return things back to normal keeps the red circle removed yet still looks for updates. I could be wrong but it looks that way

  4. VAS says:

    I did by editing com.apple.dock.plist
    changed “dock-extra” for system preferences and no more red annoyance.

    • ric says:

      What changes did you make to the plist file ?

      • Jan says:

        In com.apple.dock.plist
        Search for the “com.apple.systempreferences”
        With this key “dock-extra”
        And on the next line change “true” into “false”

        It disables badges for all System Preferences.

  5. Scott Myers says:

    We normally just make an Alias of the System Preferences app and put it in the Dock. Makes it easy to revert back if necessary.

  6. ric says:

    I read about this somewhere else a few weeks ago. I did it but then found that the red badge icon returned every day or so after a restart. Has anyone else found this and is there another workaround to save one reentering that code each time.

  7. JMII says:

    The badge comes back. Not sure of the time period but it seemed like 24 hours later.

  8. david watts says:

    Thank you for this. I didn’t want to remove the SysPref icon from my Dock since I use it almost daily and I like it to be there. But the red dot was truly an annoyance. Now it’s gone. Thx again.

  9. Dale Mackie says:

    Thanks for the tip!
    Much appreciated.

  10. Mykel says:

    My issue is slightly different. I have the red badge but there are no updates. While on Mojave I issued the “sudo softwareupdate –ignore “macOS Catalina”” command. Now I’m on Catalina and can’t figure out how to get rid of the red badge. “sudo softwareupdate –reset-ignored” doesn’t work.

  11. arie de reus says:

    Thank you. Again a tip which is very useful

  12. PW says:

    Worked until after restart, and then it was back in Mojave.

  13. Michael says:

    I would have used this tip when Catalina was first released, but my solution was simpler. I just removed System Preferences from the Dock. The notification badge still appeared in SP, but at least it wasn’t staring at me constantly from the Dock. Easy enough to launch SP from the Menu bar Apple when needed…

    • User says:

      I was just about to say the same. However, I find the real annoyance to be the nags that appear in the Notification Center, and I’m not aware of any way to prevent System Preferences from posting those alerts. That would be a real find.

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