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 Roundup: macOS Big Sur
Related Forum: macOS Big Sur

Top Rated Comments

mungo2k Avatar
11 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
11 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
11 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
11 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
11 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
11 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)

Top Stories

macOS Big Sur Feature Purple

Apple Seeds RC Version of macOS Big Sur 11.3 to Developers

Tuesday April 20, 2021 11:16 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the RC version of an upcoming macOS Big Sur 11.3 update to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta coming one week after the launch of the eighth beta and more than two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2, a bug fix update. Developers can download the ‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌ 11.3 beta using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.3 With M1 Optimizations, AirTag Integration, Updated Controller Support, Apple Music Updates and More

Monday April 26, 2021 9:58 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.3, the third major update to the macOS Big Sur‌ operating system that launched in November. ‌macOS Big Sur‌ 11.3 comes two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌ 11.3 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. macOS Big...
macOS Big Sur Feature Triad

Apple Seeds Third Beta of macOS Big Sur 11.4 to Developers

Monday May 10, 2021 10:14 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming macOS Big Sur 11.4 update to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta coming two weeks after the release of the second macOS Big Sur 11.4 beta. Developers can download the ‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.4 beta using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after installing the proper profile from the Apple Developer...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.4 With Apple Podcasts Subscription Support

Monday May 24, 2021 10:08 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November 2020. macOS Big Sur comes one month after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.3, an update that added M1 optimizations, AirTag integration, and more. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.4 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the...
macOS Big Sur Feature Purple

Apple Seeds macOS Big Sur 11.4 Release Candidate to Developers

Monday May 17, 2021 10:17 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the release candidate version of an upcoming macOS Big Sur 11.4 update to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta coming two weeks after the release of the third macOS Big Sur 11.4 beta. Developers can download the ‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.4 beta using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after installing the proper profile from the...
macOS Big Sur Feature Blue

Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of macOS Big Sur 11.3 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday March 31, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth beta of an upcoming macOS Big Sur 11.3 update to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta coming one week after the launch of the fifth beta and more than a month after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2, a bug fix update. Developers can download the ‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌ 11.3 beta using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 With WebKit Security Fix

Monday March 8, 2021 10:12 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.3, the fifth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 comes two weeks after the release of macOS 11.2.2, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.2.3 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. Apple...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.1 With Fix for MacBook Pro Charging Issue [Updated]

Tuesday February 9, 2021 10:13 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, the third update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur‌ 11.2.1 comes a little over a week after the release of macOS 11.2. The new ‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌ 11.2.1‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. According to Apple's...
macOS Big Sur Feature Purple

Apple Seeds Second Beta of macOS Big Sur 11.4 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Tuesday May 4, 2021 10:19 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming macOS Big Sur 11.4 update to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta coming two weeks after the release of the first macOS Big Sur 11.4 beta. Developers can download the ‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.4 beta using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after installing the proper profile from the Apple Developer...
macOS Big Sur Feature Blue

Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of macOS Big Sur 11.3 to Developers

Thursday April 8, 2021 10:07 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming macOS Big Sur 11.3 update to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta coming one week after the launch of the sixth beta and more than a month after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2, a bug fix update. Developers can download the ‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌ 11.3 beta using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after...