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How can I disable updates of a particular app (in this case: iMovie) in the Mac App Store? The method documented here (right click on update, select Hide Update) no longer works.

I have app Store version 2.2.1 (584), macOS Sierra version 10.12.6 (16G29).

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3 Answers 3

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Spotlight on macOS gathers information about apps wherever they reside and the App Store app consumes that information to decide which apps have updates available.

Make a backup of the apps in question. Then try tampering with the app contents in a targeted manner:

  • Using Finder, right click the app icon and choose show package contents.
  • Locate a folder named _MASReceipt and delete it.

This removes the receipt that tells the App Store to manage the app and addresses the update bubble. Whether the modified app still runs is the next thing to check.

In many cases, this wrecks the app since it’s now been tampered with

The long term answer is to have the developer code sign their app in a manner that lets you opt out of upgrades or provide a signed / notarized version of older apps when there is a legitimate need for some people to stop updating the app. It costs them time and money to ship apps, so I find approaching them with a budget helps to get this extra work if you really need support for past versions of apps.

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  • Can't you just ad hoc sign it after deleting the receipt?
    – benwiggy
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 11:38
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I was able to disable auto-updates by moving the app from the shared applications folder (/Applications) to my user-specific applications folder (/Users/$(whoami)/Applications). Apparently checks for updates aren't applied there, which sorta makes sense. I have yet to find relevant documentation on this though.

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  • This didn't work for me on Catalina: the App Store is still showing a pending update and a badge notification after the move. Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 19:27
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    I wonder if you have a spotlight exclusion on your apps folder to make this work?
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 11:31
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You can write protect the application via Terminal like so:

sudo chflags -R schg /Applications/Some.app

With this flag the app cannot even be modified by root. The AppStore will still attempt to update the application but lacks the permission to do so, resulting in the update hanging in the Updates section eternally. Furthermore, on every update attempt the AppStore will quit the app. So it might get annoying. In some cases this might still be the better option since updating an app can render it useless, as more and more developers make previously bought applications free and want you to subscribe for the features you already bought.

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    I'm more interested in getting the App Store to stop pestering me than I am in absolutely preventing updates (since I can always restore the old version from backup), so this cure is worse than the disease.
    – cpcallen
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 12:57

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