Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The real way to disable Adobe Updater from your Mac OS X

Adobe update manager is really annoying, but most instructions on the web to disable it merely tells Adobe Updater not to report updates; the updater still runs silently. The fact that I'm dedicating system resource every now and then so the Adobe Updater can phone home but not tell me to update is not good enough for me. I want Adobe Updater to stop completely.

To stop Adobe Updater completely, one must understand how it gets run in the first place. The updater is launched by a Mac OS X system service called launchd. To launchd, Adobe Updater is a periodic job. The job file is stored under your ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder. The actual file name is suffixed with a number of random characters, but it starts with "com.adobe.ARM" as the prefix. If you look inside the file (it's a plain text file), you'd see that launchd would run the updater at 12600 seconds interval, or 3.5 hours.
To remove, type these commands in a Terminal window:
cd ~/Library/LaunchAgents
launchctl remove `basename com.adobe.ARM.* .plist`
rm com.adobe.ARM.*
Basically, the idea is, for each launchd plist file in ~/Library/LaunchAgents that you don't want, run launchctl remove on the job name, which is the same as the plist file name without the .plist suffix, then remove the actual .plist file.

While you are at it, there may be other launchd jobs in ~/Library/LaunchAgents left over from stale applications you might have tried before. Feel free to remove them all.

You're welcome.

Edit (Oct 20, 2012): a couple of readers pointed out in the comment that the launchd namespace used by Adobe Updater is now different. I just installed Adobe (Acrobat) Reader XI and found that the name is still com.adobe.ARM.*, but if you have Creative Suite, it might be com.adobe.AAM.* instead. I don't have Creative Suite so I can't verify that.

Furthermore, it appears that when you set Updater preference in Adobe Reader XI to "Do not download or install updates automatically," it now removes the launchd task as well, which means the launchctl and rm commands would no longer be necessary. Kudos to Adobe for figuring that out!

One reader also pointed out that in his case, the updater is installed in the system-wide location /Library/LaunchAgents. In that case, you will need to run “sudo su -” first and type in your own password to gain root privilege (the prompt changes from “$” to “#”) before they can be removed. Be careful the commands you enter as root, as a mistake can irreparably damage your system.

Thanks for keeping me updated y'all.
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