The following file keeps reappearing after each macOS update: /Users/Shared/Relocated\ Items/Configuration/private/etc/shells.system_default

Ages ago I modified the file /etc/shells to add the latest bash version from Homebrew and after macOS changed to this new read only file system for the OS I see this on every update. I also noticed that private/etc/shells seem to be hard linked to /etc/shells, changing one file has an impact on the other (and I don't see a symlink).

The file under Relocated Items is not the modified file but seems to be the default file from macOS without changes (my file /etc/shells still has my changed for the Homebrew bash).

Is there anything I can do to avoid this happening after each update? I always delete the whole Relocated Items folder (not just the shortcut under the Desktop) but it keeps coming back.


Feeling kinda stupid as I found the explanation on the PDF named What Are Relocated Items? under the Relocated Items folder. The relevant part for the clarification is:

Configuration files with the suffix "system_default" were edited or customized, but the changes were allowed to remain installed. The system_default version of the file is provided to demonstrate what the Apple supplied version of this file would look like. It is recommended that you compare the two and evaluate whether you wish to integrate any changes Apple may have made to the default version.

As I modified this file, looks like Apple will always provide the default version of this file so I can manually compare it with my modified version and merge any relevant changes. So no way to avoid this behavior but finally I understand why this happens after each update.

  • 2
    This is an explanation I haven't found elsewhere. I keep seeing a few files showing up after a point update and have wondered repeatedly why I can't just get rid of them permanently!
    – dr.nixon
    Feb 10 at 19:03
  • What I don't understand is: Why do they keep re-raising an issue about the same file, where the system default hasn't changed? I.e. if the default system value for /etc/shells changed, then bringing that attention once makes sense. I'll resolve the differences, integrating whatever I like out of the new system default while preserving my own modifications. Great. But then on the next update, the same file will be listed again, even though the system default hasn't changed! It's really annoying!
    – Alexander
    Sep 1 at 3:16

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