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

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
ios 18 button bulge

iOS 18 Adds Pop-Out Bezel Animation When Pressing iPhone Buttons

Tuesday June 11, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a small but interesting change for the buttons on the iPhone, adding more of a visual element when changing volume, activating the Action button, or locking the screen. When you press an iPhone button in iOS 18, the display bezel bulges outward slightly. This feature is available for the volume buttons, Action button and the power button, and it will also likely be used for...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

Revealed: iOS 18 Works With These iPhone Models

Monday June 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and hence also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, but older iPhone models will miss out. Here is the full...

First Look at Messages via Satellite in iOS 18

Thursday June 13, 2024 11:29 am PDT by
Apple has been gradually expanding its suite of satellite connectivity features for iPhone, and iOS 18 brings a significant new one in the form of Messages via satellite. The feature allows users to send and receive iMessages and SMS texts, including emoji and Tapbacks, while out of range of cellular and Wi-Fi networks. CNET met up with Apple's senior director of platform product marketing,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Massive iPhone Upgrade Coming This Week But These Devices Will Miss Out

Sunday June 9, 2024 1:25 pm PDT by
Apple is planning a major AI overhaul in iOS 18, with a feature set it is referring to as "Apple Intelligence." However, these new features will not work on older iPhones, even if they do appear on the new operating system's device compatibility list. Apple's initial AI roadmap for iOS 18 is said to come in two parts: Basic AI features that will be processed on-device, and more advanced...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Your iPhone 15 Can Show the Time When It's Out of Battery in iOS 18

Wednesday June 12, 2024 2:57 pm PDT by
The iPhone has had a Power Reserve function that holds back a small amount of battery life to allow features like Find My and NFC unlocking to work even when your device has died, and in iOS 18, Apple seems to be improving the feature further for the iPhone 15 models. As demonstrated on Reddit, when the battery on an iPhone running iOS 18 is exhausted, the phone can continue to show the time ...

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)