Permanently disable Google Software Update on OS X

UPDATE

Parsa Fatehi kindly points out below that Google now has a simpler solution:
http://www.google.com/support/installer/bin/answer.py?answer=100386


As many have noted, recent Google software releases for OS X now include Google Software Update, a background daemon that checks for and installs updates to Google software with no user intervention and no option for disabling it.

In theory, GSU is removed automatically when the last Google software to utilise it is uninstalled from your computer… but this assumes that you use the uninstallers bundled by Google, and don’t attempt to remove the software by hand.

I’ll save my disappointment for another editorial.
Instead, here is a workaround:
sudo rm /Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist
sudo rm /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.google.keystone.daemon.plist
sudo rm /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.google.keystone.daemon4.plist

sudo touch /Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist
sudo touch /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.google.keystone.daemon.plist
sudo touch /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.google.keystone.daemon4.plist

sudo chmod 000 /Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist
sudo chmod 000 /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.google.keystone.daemon.plist
sudo chmod 000 /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.google.keystone.daemon4.plist

This hint does not uninstall GSU – it only “disables” the launchd entries that would run GoogleSoftwareUpdateAgent.app at boot time.

We first remove each entry (sudo rm …) and create empty files (sudo touch …) in their place.  We then change their POSIX permissions (sudo chmod) to deny any access to these files (000) for all accounts except root.

Creating inaccessible dummy files is important.  Without them, the launchd entries can simply be replaced whenever Google software is run.  But with these steps taken, no Google app can reinstall the GSU launchd entries, unless they:

  • ask for your username and password (to authenticate as root),
  • use different filenames, or
  • create local launchd entries (~/Library/Launch[…])

This hint is easily adapted for each of these cases. You can also use this technique to remove GSU completely.

15 Comments

  1. Dick Guertin said…

    Written on Mon, May 11, 2009 at 2:23pm · Link

    I used “chmod 444″ instead, to insure the plist could be read,even though it is empty. Also, I only found the “com.google.keystone.daemon.plist”, not the others. But I’m happy to report, IT WORKS, GoogleSoftwareUpdate no longer is launched by “launchd”. Thanks.

  2. Dick Guertin said…

    Written on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 1:07pm · Link

    Well, here it is almost a year later, and I’m finding GoogleSoftwareUpdate running again. I checked the files in /Library/LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons, and they are still 0-length files. Activity Monitor told me that GSU was launched by “loginwindow”, so I checked my Login Items in System Preferences -> Accounts, and there was no GSU item. So I looked at the Open Files of loginwindow, and found /Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate was begin opened and the .bundle was being accessed. I moved GoogleSoftwareUpdate from /Library/Google to /Library/Applications Support/Google using “sudo mv”. That seems to have eliminated the launching of GSU. But it may reappear if I do any other Google software installs.

  3. Dave said…

    Written on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 1:30pm · Link

    Good to know. Thanks man.

  4. Google software update log 2.6GB!! - MacTalk Forums said…

    Written on Mon, Sep 6, 2010 at 5:15am · Link

    [...] for Google. These sites show how: Time sinker: Stopping all OSX Google background 'updater' apps Permanently disable Google Software Update on OS X Twenty Ways __________________ …because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the [...]

  5. Parsa Fatehi said…

    Written on Sun, Oct 24, 2010 at 8:24am · Link

  6. mark said…

    Written on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 5:02am · Link

    I have eliminated all google products from my mac, and tried to disble in terminal;

    http://www.google.com/support/installer/bin/answer.py?answer=100386

    but it still keeps installing that
    com.extensis.SuitcaseFusion2
    file.

    it now askes me to connect 10 X
    making me very angry
    ‘its very frustrating.

    in terminal, it asks for a password, but there is no password and there is no way of typmin in a passsword.

    short of deep reformatting my mac and never using any google products ever again, does anyone have a solution

    signed
    desperate….

  7. JKT said…

    Written on Sat, Apr 9, 2011 at 3:11pm · Link

    @Mark: com.extensis.SuitcaseFusion2 has absolutely nothing to do with Google. It is, as its name suggests, part of Extensis’ product “Suitcase” font management product. Contact Extensis if you want to get rid of it.

  8. Removing Google Automatic Updates on MacOS | tinyuseful.com said…

    Written on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 5:09pm · Link

    [...] to www.twentyways.com Bookmark on Delicious Recommend on Facebook Share on Linkedin Share on technorati Tweet about it [...]

  9. hank said…

    Written on Sun, May 8, 2011 at 10:36am · Link

    hmmm, this just started showing up on launch on my Mac:

    5/8/11 8:28:57 AM com.apple.launchd[1] (com.google.keystone.daemon[4445]) bootstrap_register() erroneously called instead of bootstrap_check_in(). Mach service: com.google.Keystone.Daemon

    5/8/11 8:29:20 AM com.apple.launchd[1] (com.google.keystone.daemon) Throttling respawn: Will start in 8 seconds

    5/8/11 8:31:51 AM com.apple.launchd[1] (com.google.keystone.daemon[4581]) Exited with exit code: 1

    … lather, rinse, repeat …. been doing it for an hour now.

  10. imajoebob said…

    Written on Wed, May 18, 2011 at 10:02pm · Link

    This really pisses mr off because all I run is Google Earth. But I’m on a PPC running 10.4, so Google WON’T update my software – and yet I still have to run this trash?

    Remember the days whem Google would take cheap shots at Microsoft for their “evil empire” practices? Somebody was taking notes.

  11. Marty said…

    Written on Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 2:27pm · Link

    I noticed my log files being filled with garbage from google, exactly as related by Hank on May 8 2011. It took quite a bit of work to remove all references, programs, plist files … relating to google, and to use launchctl to remove the launch of the google daemons. I hope now I am free of google, and will remain so.

  12. Michael Kay said…

    Written on Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 12:58pm · Link

    Just took a look at my “Console” log out of sheer curiosity (relatively new to Mac) and I get this “bootstrap_register() erroneously called” message once every ten seconds. If they’re going to run something on my machine without my permission, can’t they at least get it right?

  13. spathi.net » com.google.keystone.daemon appearing in your console logs said…

    Written on Sat, Jan 7, 2012 at 8:49am · Link

    [...] Twenty Ways: Permanently disable Google Software Update on OS X [...]

  14. spathi.net » com.google.keystone.daemon appearing in console logs said…

    Written on Sat, Jan 7, 2012 at 8:58am · Link

    [...] Twenty Ways: Permanently disable Google Software Update on OS X [...]

  15. Al said…

    Written on Sat, Jun 1, 2013 at 5:01pm · Link

    Seems like a lot of unnecessary effort when Google provides a one line solution here http://support.google.com/installer/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=147176.

    defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 0

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