Resolved: Microsoft AutoUpdate keeps popping up on Mac OS X
I pretty much grew up using Microsoft products, and I believe that while they are not perfect, I have really grown to like and appreciate them. This has not changed since I swapped the world of PCs for the world of macs, and I was borderline ecstatic when Microsoft began porting Office to Mac OS X.
This ecstasy turned first into mild annoyance and then into not-so-mild anger a few weeks ago, when Microsoft AutoUpdate started popping up on my screen what felt like every 5 minutes (spoiler alert: it was 60 min.). After spending a ridiculous amount of time googling the issue and coming up with nothing better than “reinstall” and/or “drag-and-drop the application into the bin”, I did some more research and may have found the solution to the problem.
Microsoft AutoUpdate on Mac OS X
Microsoft AutoUpdate lives in your Mac to
make sure your copy of Office will always be up-to-date with the latest security fixes and improvements (Microsoft, 2022).
In itself, this is a rather useful feature; however, the constant popping up was driving me crazy.
The file that is responsible for MAU’s launch (and pop-up)behaviour is located here:
To make things a tad more complicated, however, it is an encoded xml file which needs XCode to edit, but unless you are a developer and have XCode already installed on your mac, you need to find an alternative solution to edit these files — it would be an overkill to install XCode just to address this problem.
So how to go about pacifying MAU? Enter
plutil. This small programme can do a range of things for you (see the Further reading section below), but today we are going to be exploiting its ability to decode and (re)encode plist files.
/Library/ and invoke Terminal by right-clicking on the folder
LaunchAgents, and selecting Services… > New Terminal at Folder...
2. Convert the plist file to xml. Enter the following command:
plutil -convert xml1 com.microsoft.update.agent.plist
(If you cannot find the file, then you are probably not in the root
/Library/ folder but in your user’s one.)
3. Now you can open the file in any text editor, including TextEdit. Find the following section in the file:
<integer>7200</integer> bit specifies the frequency with which MAU will pop up on your computer. Select a number that you are comfortable with (e.g., 604800 for weekly pop-ups) and replace 7200 with that number. For example:
5. Save the file.
6. Now, the last bit that remains is to convert the xml code back into the binary format that is expected in plist files. To do so, enter the following command in the Terminal window:
plutil -convert binary1 com.microsoft.update.agent.plist
7. Restart your mac.
C’est tout. MAU will pop up one last time, and then stay quiet until the time you specified elapses. The upside? You still have access to the functionality and will eventually be reminded of new updates and security patches.
Did this work for you? Let me know in a comment below.
- Editing Property Lists with plutil by Armin Briegel