Apple Stops Offering Standalone Update Packages in macOS Big Sur

Apple appears to have ended its tradition of making standalone updater versions of macOS available to all users, beginning with macOS Big Sur.

macoos combo updates
Apple offers its macOS updates through the Software Update pane in System Preferences, but it usually also lets users download the same updates as standalone installation packages, made available on Apple's downloads website.

However, as noted by Mr. Macintosh and shared by The Eclectic Light Company, Apple hasn't released a standalone updater for macOS 11.1 or 11.0.1, despite providing standalone packages for macOS Catalina and Mojave security updates on December 16.

Standalone packages are useful for administrators who want to update multiple Macs with the same 12GB download, especially given that delta and combo packages come in smaller sizes since they include only the files needed for that particular update.

According to Mr. Macintosh, however, Apple is advising users who need standalone updaters to contact them in an "official capacity," although it's not exactly clear what that means.


Apple hasn't confirmed that it has ended update packages for macOS, but the current lack of standalone installers for Big Sur doesn't look particularly good for users who rely on them.

That said, there is an alternative solution in the Sharing pane in System Preferences in the form of a Content Caching option, which enables one Mac to download updates and other Macs on the same network to download them directly from the local Mac.

Related Forum: macOS Big Sur

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Top Rated Comments

mungo2k Avatar
46 months ago
This article is getting a bit confused between full and delta installers. Standalone installers are still available via the Mac App Store or via the "softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer" command (new: "softwareupdate --list-full-installers" shows you what you can download with "softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version X.Y").

It's the standalone delta updaters that are no longer being made available by Apple, so you have to download the full 12-13GB each time.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FreakinEurekan Avatar
46 months ago

Do this mean we will no longer be able to make a single USB installer, in case we would like to do a clean install of Big Sur? That appears to be the case, unless I misunderstood the article.
You misunderstood the article. USB installer is still supported.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bassanoclapper Avatar
46 months ago

...

What A joke. Apple heading in the wrong direction.

ARM Macs are no longer for PRO use. Their are multiple articles on this.

No dedicated GPU. All crappy system on a chip. That blows
We’re just over 1 month into a 2 year transition, so it’s just possible that there are bigger and better things to come
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GreenPixel Avatar
46 months ago

WOW this sucks. I can tell this will be the last Intel OS I will be interested in and will probably stay on.

The arm Macs will all be setup like the Microsoft surfaces which sucks.

How do they expect or call ARM Macs PRO MACHINES?

Mission critical HEAVY digital creators are not going to use ARM Macs if you can't even keep a copy of the OS around.

What A joke. Apple heading in the wrong direction.

ARM Macs are no longer for PRO use. Their are multiple articles on this.

No dedicated GPU. All crappy system on a chip. That blows
You really don't seem to know what you're talking ranting about. We can still keep full installs of an OS. Nothing is stopping that. Additionally, Since my M1 MBA is outperforming all the existing MacBook Pro's, I think Pro users will be just fine.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IG88 Avatar
46 months ago
This is one of those "we're gonna stop doing it and see if there's enough outrage to make us reverse course."
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdphoto Avatar
46 months ago
There are multiple legitimate reasons to need these Delta/Combo Updates (that Content Sharing alone doesn't resolve), I've left my feedback with Apple; hopefully enough folks do the same to make them change their mind.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)