Apple to make macOS Sierra available as automatic download beginning today

Apple told me on Monday that it is making its new macOS Sierra available to customers as an automatic download beginning today. What this means for users is that if you have auto update downloads enabled, macOS Sierra will download in the background for you.

It’s important to note that this is not an automatic installer—this process will only download the update in the background, and then alert you that it is available to install. You can choose to install it when its convenient. You can also choose to ignore the update.

The update will only be downloaded on computers that meet the specs for macOS Sierra, so if you have an older computer, you will not receive the download.

Apple is also being smart about the download. If your computer is low on space, macOS Sierra will not download. In addition, if it has downloaded and your computer starts to get low on space, the download will be automatically deleted.

Of course, you can manually delete the download if you don’t wish to upgrade, and you can choose to manually download the update from the App Store at any time.

macOS Sierra will only auto download on computers that have automatic downloads enabled. You set that in your App Store preferences. This process is not new on Macs or iOS. Auto downloads have been available for some time now and its a feature I’ve had enabled on all of my devices.

Apple said the auto download of macOS Sierra will be enabled randomly over the next week for its users.

  • lkalliance

    It will be interesting to see if the reaction to this is similar to the reaction to the Windows 10 upgrade requireme–er, offer.

    • bregalad

      My wife’s office is still angry about the way Windows 10 was foisted upon them. They lost many hours when Windows decided to install itself and hours more trying to get everything working properly again. After the “upgrade” their printer/scanner refused to work, file shares all had to be set up again and one of the computers dropped off the network and wouldn’t reconnect. They had to pay someone to come in and get things working again. They’re a non-profit agency and really couldn’t afford to lose hundreds of dollars in tech support and lost productivity.

      • cheesus_c

        that’s fair enough, auto installing the OS is completely irresponsible. I’m not a huge fan of this move from Apple however, people should be opting in to a massive download that will effect their network speeds severely.

        • lkalliance

          I’m not sure that Windows auto-installed, either. Microsoft obfuscated the process, though, so that the user would not understand that he was agreeing to the installation.

          I see it as that there are two steps to installing the new OS: downloading and installing. I think that’s good: installing a new OS is a big deal, and it shouldn’t be possible to do so inadvertently with just one mistake. This new element removes one of those steps. I don’t think it’s a tragedy, so long as Apple doesn’t obfuscate…but I do think we’re worse off now than we were before.

          I would rather have the OS nudge me with an iOS-style alert, with a “OK, download” or “Remind me later” or “Thanks, stop bugging me.”

          EDITED TO ADD:

          What Microsoft did seemed pretty bad. I really don’t like to hurl daggers at companies, generally. They’re all just trying to make good products for their customers, and I don’t believe they are bad actors. But that was one case where Microsoft crossed a line.

          • drx1

            The iOS “alerts” for system updates are the worst. I say 3 alters and then its out! (or off). Apple should handle things better.

            If we used Microsoft as a “standard” … Microsoft does not even know technology, yet Gill Bates is a great business “visionary”.

            GMO crops are not the future … it is sad Mr Gates foundation is worse than his previous enterprise. … and now I’m off topic.

    • msackeygh

      this is not the same thing. It doesn’t automatically install. (Did you miss that part in the article?)

      • lkalliance

        No need to be snarky. I do not believe Windows 10 automatically installs, either; Microsoft seemed to have obfuscated the process and confused users into agreeing to the upgrade.

        You’re right that this isn’t the same thing, but now Apple is closer to that scenario than it was yesterday, which is the wrong direction to be moving. Especially given the recent Microsoft attention.

        • You’re right until the “but.” A smooth install is a great thing, and the problem Microsoft had was confusing users by making buttons that used to cancel the install now install it. There’s no thin edge of the wedge or “closer” argument here. If it does what it should, there’s no problem.

          • Mo

            Both companies now appear to have committed acts of presumption with slightly different levels of clumsiness.

          • I don’t know that I can agree with that. The checkbox that controls this is called “Automatically download updates in background,” isn’t it? Automatically downloading updates in the background when it’s turned on doesn’t seem very presumptuous to me.

            To be honest in past releases I thought I was supposed to get the downloads automatically and be able to run them when I wanted. I never understood why that feature didn’t work. I guess it was only for bug fix releases?

          • Mo

            I think it can be a bit presumptuous to ship an OS to consumers with such behaviors enabled by default, even if it’s for their own good.

          • I think the default for that is still false. I think I had to turn it on when I was setting up my dad’s computer.

          • Mo

            My impression (not specific memory) says otherwise, but it could just be jet lag. 😉

          • I could be wrong, too. I’ll check next time I do a from-scratch install. 🙂

          • Mo

            I’m often wrong. But it feels to me as though each major update seeks to “correct” certain habits.

          • drx1

            It is closer, since one is “auto using” bandwidth to download the file(s) and space to store the file(s) …

            It is good Apple is slightly smarter than Microsoft – but that is not saying much.

        • complete non issue. as usual, it’s only techies on forums who get butthurt about this sort of stuff.

  • My main problem with this is that if someone has download quotas on their cable modem, this isn’t going to help. :/

    At least, I hope that macOS is smart enough not to download updates over metered connections. macOS can tell when it’s tethering to iOS, but what about to an Android phone or a wifi hotspot?

    • James Hughes

      Metered connections has not been factored. But automatic updates must be enabled. Disable that and you disable automatic downloads. “macOS Sierra will only auto download on computers that have automatIc downloads enabled.”

  • Thanks for the heads-up. Just turned auto-updates off on my laptop. (It’s fine having this happen at home, but if it downloads while I’m in a cafe on my wifi dongle thingy with its 5GB-per-month limit, I’ll be very unhappy…)

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  • DanielSw

    Ahh yes, the usual suspects finding something wrong with whatever Apple does.

    I think it’s a good idea, and I’m set for the next auto-update.

    • James Hughes

      Right. Auto updates is also something you had to approve. If the default were to automatically update I could see the potential problem, but it is not.

      • n9yty

        Auto “updates”, in probably most people’s vernacular, means an update to installed versions of software, not an “upgrade” to the next version. For a lot of people there really is a difference there…

    • drx1

      I would be happier if Apple starting building computers, again.

  • Tom_P

    Thanks. Turning auto-download off. The reason is not I don’t want Sierra. I’m just not sure it’s bug free and Screen Sharing is very important to my workflow. Also when iCloud Drive still expensive, many features of Sierra will be useless to me.

  • n9yty

    Pathetic, Apple. Really. You should not presume how people choose to use their internet bandwidth or disk space.

    • then disable auto downloads. seems a lot easier than dreaming up a conspiracy and bitching about it.

      • n9yty

        It’s not a conspiracy if it is really happening. Just because you have a point of view does not invalidate everyone else’s. But you seem to feel it does, so… Clearly the blowback Microsoft got, and if you recall what Apple also got for the “FREE” U2 album, shows gthat not everyone agrees this is a good move.

      • James Hughes

        I’ve never used the block feature on here until now. Unfortunately it seems the trolls are coming out of the woodwork.

  • The Pool Man

    “Apple is also being smart about the download. If your computer is low on space, macOS Sierra will not download.”

    I doubt it. Apple downloaded iOS 10 to my two iPhones… leaving each with very little room. And zero indication it had done so.

    • what does that have to do with macOS? do you have evidence that it doesn’t work the way they say it does?

      • James Hughes

        Not to mention “very little room” and “low on space” are both arbitrary. How about people managing their iPhones and/or computer space? Then download the update(s). Where is the personal responsibility here?

        • The Pool Man

          On a Mac I agree it’s hard to believe most users wouldn’t have the available space. But many people have iPhones with 16GBs of space… because Apple is greedy and wants you to cough up another $100 to get what should have been standard years ago.

          My personal responsibility is considering switching to Android. Where I can get an expandable Zenfone 3 with 64GBs of RAM for half the price of an iPhone 7.

          • James Hughes

            You’ve never really been an apple user then.

          • The Pool Man

            What’s that supposed to mean? I’ve been exclusively macOS/iOS between 1986-2015?!?

          • James Hughes

            “Apple is greedy” “considering switching to Android”

            Let me phrase that another way. Apple doesn’t need people like you. Switch already.

          • The Pool Man

            You’re either paid to comment by Apple or you simply like to swallow.

          • James Hughes

            Or I actually like Apple products. Imagine that? Stop trolling..

          • The Pool Man

            I’m discerning. Not a fanboy. Enjoy Harry Potter.

      • The Pool Man

        What does Apple’s handling of forced downloads on iOS have anything to do with Apple’s handling of forced downloads on macOS?


  • drx1

    this is unfortunate. Why would any company enable auto crashing? Often downgrades are better.

  • Ahh yes, the usual suspects finding something wrong with whatever Apple does.

    I think it’s a good idea, and I’m set for the next auto-update.