I keep the "System Preferences" app icon in my dock in Mojave. I recently checked for updates, and found one, but I'm not ready to install it just yet and the red notification dot over the settings app is really bothering my obsessive-compulsive self. To make things worse, there's no way to disable the notification for the settings app, from the settings app.

How can I banish the notification icon until I'm ready to deal with doing updates?

(Note: this a the red notification badge/dot over the System Preferences app, not the App Store one. It is also not the big textual one that will appear in the upper right corner of the screen. And, unlike all the other questions I found while searching for this, I am in Mac OS rather than iOS.)

The closest thing I found was this question here, which was about iCloud security problems rather than software updates. My question isn't why, but how to ignore a software update for a while.

dock notification icon
(picture borrowed from that question)


After some unsuccessful googling, followed by loads and loads of digging and grepping through binary files, I stumbled upon a key in a .plist which, when written, appeared to make the system temporarily forget it had any updates to bother me with. Running:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences AttentionPrefBundleIDs 0

fixed my issue for now on 10.14.1. (Apparently, you may also have to restart the dock with killall Dock, but I don't remember having to do so).

(If you have automatic checking for updates turned on, this might not work for you. Not for long, anyway. In my case, on a fresh install, I went to the settings page to turn off checking for updates, at which time it checked for an update before I could close the page. After running that command it went away again, though.)

Re-running the update checker should undo this. One might be able to find that .plist (I believe it was in /Users/[username]/Library/Preferences/com.apple.systempreferences.plist) and set the immutable bit on it/give it read only permissions to prevent it getting modified, but I have no idea what the fallout from that could be.

  • 4
    Works for hiding the Catalina update that was released today. It appears that checking for updates will make it reappear, at least until you restart Dock again. Thanks for doing the hard work finding this default key! – CoBrA2168 Oct 8 '19 at 0:11
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    @CoBrA2168 thanks. Really wish apple did more thorough public documentation on their OS internals! – Wyatt8740 Oct 8 '19 at 14:34
  • Did this, disabled auto checking for updates, restarted dock, went away for few minutes, came back. Inside System Prefs -> Software Update, no longer listing catalina as needed, but red dot still showing. – Ray Oct 30 '19 at 16:00
  • @Ray do any of these do anything for you? sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist LastUpdatesAvailable 0, sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist LastRecommendedUpdatesAvailable 0, sudo defaults delete /Library/Preferences/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist RecommendedUpdates – Wyatt8740 Oct 31 '19 at 23:42
  • This also works for notifications related to iCloud – user35581 Nov 14 '19 at 15:24

Here is what worked for me to get rid of the red notification ballon and still have access to System Preferences from the dock.

Replace the Systems Preferences icon on the dock with its Alias:

  1. Remove System Preferences icon from dock (either drag icon off dock or right-click on it and choose "Options" and then "Remove from Dock").

  2. In a Finder window navigate to the Applications folder, right-click on the Systems Preferences app and choose "Make Alias".

  3. Add the alias file to the dock by dragging it to the desired location on the dock.

The alias icon does not include the red notification bubble. The Systems Preference panel will still show the red notification on the Software Update icon (as shown in the partial screen shot image).

enter image description here

  • 2
    Tried Terry Richmonds suggestion but Alias still has red notification – nrglog Oct 9 '19 at 1:52
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    This solution only works by misdirection, and doesn't actually disable anything at the system level. :-) It is very clever, though. Kudos on an alternate method! – IconDaemon Oct 9 '19 at 2:44
  • Interesting idea; I'd done similar to make folders open in finder instead of opening up in that "speech bubble" thing in snow leopard, but I'd completely forgotten. I don't like the arrow icon, but it's a clever solution if you don't mind it appearing in the 'apple' top bar menu and when the settings app is opened. – Wyatt8740 Oct 10 '19 at 13:30

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