In OS X 10.8, for system updates that were installed without being signed into an Apple ID, how can I view the update history?

I looked in Library/Logs for an update log, and also in the Software Update for an Installed Software pane, but I don't have either.

Where can I see the updates?

  • You only want to see (Apple) system updates, not third-party software or AppStore, right?
    – smci
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 21:03
  • @smci I think either would be interesting still. Tough I do not have this question anymore others might Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 21:05
  • no, but you explicitly said '[Apple] system updates' and 'Software Update', which means only Apple software; not not third-party apps, not AppStore, not things installed otherwise (e.g. brew, macports). To widen your question now 9 years later, would invalidate the answers below. Anyway there are other Q&A on this site that cover that.
    – smci
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 22:49
  • @smci I’m not even sure if Apple allows the OSes from that long ago to be installed anymore, so whatever is useful is fine with me. Why do you bring it up though? If it’s something about my edit to one of the answers, those are still system-like drivers and files. Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 23:19
  • 1
    Done. Edit my title edit to be clearer, if you want
    – smci
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 19:27

4 Answers 4


It can be found in an easy to read format using the system information app:

System Information.app > Software > Installations

System information can be found in /Applications/Utilities/System Information.app or via Spotlight.

  • /Library/Receipts/InstallHistory.plist is it, it is just an xml file which is very easy to read if you have vim or an xml editor installed.
    – Deesbek
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 17:18
  • 1
    System Information.app > Software > Installations only shows downloaded apps that have been dragged into applications folder?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 9:56
  • 1
    You might be able to see more, if you can't already, by making an XML report that can be read by System Information, which also handles the file extension when doing: system_profiler -detailLevel full -xml > ~/MySystem.spx Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 21:16

It is not easy to read, but it appears to be up to date on my machine. You can find the Install history in: /Library/Receipts/InstallHistory.plist

Wouldn't it be nice it this were listed in the Update tab of the Mac App Store?

  • Well done - I've been looking for that file and you saved me from trolling spotlight to find it. Now I might need to write a little app to parse that XML file if someone hasn't done that already.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 18:23
  • @bmike, the answer that Deesbek gave looks like it is just reading that file, although the answer could be a bit clearer.
    – Ɱark Ƭ
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 18:25
  • Yes - that appears to be a decent enough app to present the data. Wohoo!
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 18:37
  • most decent text editors like vim will parse the xml for you @bmike, then it is just a matter of collapsing and expanding what you need.
    – Deesbek
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 18:44
  • @Deesbek, AFAIK vim doesn't parse XML, it just displays it raw. I wouldn't be surprised it EMACS has a mode to parse the XML.
    – Ɱark Ƭ
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 18:52
  • Why does some of the logs in /private not appear in /Library
    – Pacerier
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 10:05
  • The log rotates. Did you also check in install.log.0.bz2 and its successors install.log.1.bz2…?
    – 1.61803
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 14:34


/usr/sbin/system_profiler SPInstallHistoryDataType

Also, try refining search terms using extended-grep's (grep -E) fuzzy-like search with the or/any operator.:

system_profiler SPInstallHistoryDataType | egrep -A 5 "(macOS|ConfigData|Configuration Data|Device|Xcode|XProtect|XQuartz|BootCamp|Core Services|Technology Preview)"

And see other SP datatypes, such as SPFrameworks. Learn more with the --help flag.

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