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The title might sound confusing, but this just happened to me:

  • I am on macOS Catalina Public Beta (19A582a).
  • I removed my connection to the public beta program in “Software Update.”
  • After doing that, the only way to get the real/official macOS Catalina to download is to go to the App Store, search for “macOS Catalina” and then click “Install.”
  • This brought me back to the “Software Update” and after a few seconds, the “Downloading macOS Catalina…” progress bar shows up; see picture below.
  • But I accidentally quit “Software Update.” Smooth move, right?

But checking network traffic on the command line via nload, I could clearly see my incoming traffic being saturated. Meaning, the data was going somewhere. But where?

I waited for the incoming traffic to go down to practically nothing, and then looked in my “Application” folder but saw no “Install macOS Catalina” as expected.

I’m now re-downloading but wondering what might have happened? Was the download cache for that file simply deleted? Or something else?

Screenshots below of the software updates in progress as well as an nload screenshot showing traffic flooding through the incoming network.

A screenshot of “Software Update” with a download in progress.

A screenshot of Nload showing saturated incoming data even after I quit the “Software Update” application.

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This is almost always cured with a restart of macOS. Shut down your Mac and then when you start it up - let things sit a bit before triggering the download manually (if you must get the update).

Two things can be happening and it will be challenging to reproduce this older setup.

  1. When a file is deleted, the file can still exist on disk until all file handlers release that file. The clean power down should do that without needing a fsck or Disk Utility run of First Aid on the disk.
  2. Some updates and temporary files can exist in /private/var/folders and they are not named or organized in a human-friendly manner.

Worst case, you'll have to boot to recovery, run First Aid and then reinstall macOS to get a full and appropriate installer and clean the installation log, but in almost every case a restart is all that's needed for the system to clean up what was cached (or use it to save download time and bandwidth) and apply any pending updates that are not completed.

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