AMITIAE - Thursday 24 October 2013

System Preferences in OS X 10.9, Mavericks: App Store

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By Graham K. Rogers

In OS X 10.9, Mavericks, there have been some changes to System Preferences. Some panels have been renamed and some adapted. There is a new preference panel, called App Store. This provides settings that work with the App Store application and replaces the Software Update preferences.

Apart from minor changes in wording and a new downloads option, the new App Store preference panel is almost identical to the previous Software Update preferences that itself had been much updated for OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion. It signified then a major shift by Apple in the way updates were delivered. This has now been renamed to indicate the way it is integrated with the OS X application of the same name: App Store.

There is a single panel with checkboxes for the functions. Admin access may be required for part of this. With the use of the Mac App Store, all updates (apps and system) are now funelled through this online source. This appears now to apply to software that was previously bought in boxed sets (before the App Store existed).

Using the Finder menu item (in the Apple menu -- to the left of the menu bar), Software Update will use the Mac App Store application (or open it if it is not already available) and the check will be made via that application.

App Store
App Store Preferences in a User Account

Beside the icon in the System Preferences panel is a basic description of the purpose of App Store "The App Store keeps OS X and apps from the App Store up to date."

There are 5 checkboxes now available:

  • Automatically check for updates will check with the Mac App Store invisibly and any updates are installed if the following three checkboxes are used. In the past the time between checks could be changed (e.g. every day, every week), but there are now no options.

  • Download newly available updates in the background is only live if the "Automatically download" box is checked. This downloads any files and the user is warned when the installation is ready to be started;

  • Install App Updates (new). Like the previous option, this is only available if the automatic check for updates is active.

  • Install system files and security updates, is similarly only live if the "Automatically download" box is checked. When this is used, files directly from Apple used to update the system are installed.

  • Automatically download apps purchased on other Macs. This box is not accessible in a user account even when the security padlock is unlocked. It may only be checked in an account with Admin privileges (See below). It will require the Apple ID and password to be entered.

    In my case, when it has been activated in the Admin account, it indicates that I am signed in to the Mac App Store and gives my username (erased in screenshots). Even if set up in the Admin account, the checkbox remains unchecked in the user account, but downloads still take place.

App Store
App Store Preferences in an Admin Account

Below the checkboxes is a text which indicates when the last check was made, or if updates are available. This may not always be accurate. Beside this there is a button marked, "Check Now" (or "Show Updates" if these are indicated). As with the Finder menu item, when this is pressed, the Mac App Store app is activated and a check made. Any apps available are shown; or the Updates panel in the Mac App Store will show, "No Updates Available."

See Also:


Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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