How to stop getting a reminder to update to Catalina in macOS

If you’re not ready, you may not want the reminder.

A MacBook running macOS Catalina.
Apple

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Apple is persistent about software updates. Since the updates are free, it’s not exactly a monetary motivation, though newer versions of macOS have an increasing number of services, like the new TV app in Catalina, which inherits previous features from iTunes and will allow Apple TV+ subscriptions when they arrive.

Many people simply aren’t ready for macOS 10.15 Catalina, and may be waiting for a “dot one” release—10.15.1—or for “never.” How can you prevent a persistent update reminder and badge? It involves some command-line instructions.

Warning!

Whenever you work at the command line, you need to enter instructions exactly and it’s best to have a current complete backup before you start just in case.

Warning!

Disabling notification of updates can mean that you miss important security updates for your current version of macOS. Keep aware of other updates if you pursue this course.

How to stop the Catalina update reminders

Apple replicates many of its utilities that appear with graphical interfaces in macOS as terminal commands. That includes Software Update. Follow these steps to halt reminders and remove the red badge from System Preferences showing an update.

  1. Launch System Preferences and click Software Update.

  2. Click Advanced.

  3. Uncheck the first three boxes: Check for Updates, Download New Updates When Available, and Install macOS Updates.

  4. Click OK.

  5. Now launch Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

  6. Enter the following commands below, copying each line and pasting it, then pressing Return at the end.

sudo softwareupdate --ignore "macOS Catalina"

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences AttentionPrefBundleIDs 0

killall Dock

The first item disable updates for macOS Catalina; the second and third prevent the red badge in System Preferences and restart the Dock (without affecting the rest of your system) to reset the state of the System Preferences icon.

The red badge will return, however, every time macOS checks for updates. Opening the Software Update preference can trigger that check, which then causes the badge to reappear!

If you’d like to get updates that include macOS Catalina, return to the Terminal and enter this command, followed by Return:

sudo softwareupdate --reset-ignored

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Koen.

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