Apple Did Not Update Your Mac Without Your Permission

A number of articles have explained that Apple pushed an automated security update to Macs this week; but it’s wrong. Even John Gruber on Daring Fireball didn’t question this, but Gene Steinberg did, in an article on Tech Night Owl Live.

I didn’t get this update “pushed” to me; I saw it, as I see all updates, in the App Store app, where I was asked to update as soon as possible.

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The reason the update wasn’t installed automatically was because I had not set my Mac to do so. To have “system data files and security updates” installed automatically, a setting in the App Store pane of System Preferences needs to be checked:

Screen Shot 2014 12 24 at 4 19 29 PM

As Gene Steinberg points out, Apple already does this for its malware scanner: “…it’s not the first time. It happens any time […] malware detection strings are updated.” For some people, who had the automatic update option checked, this happened automatically, as it should. For others, who had this option turned off, the update was not applied until they manually chose to do so.

Is it a good thing to have this option turned on? It probably is; I’m just very hesitant about Apple auto-updating anything, given the quality of some of its updates in recent times. If you have a Mac that you don’t attend to – such as one running as a server – it’s best to turn the option on, but if you check your Mac regularly, I’d say it’s not essential. This was a very important security update, but if you check for updates from time to time, you’ll probably be safe.