Keep an eye on your Mac: macOS Sonoma could be auto-installing right under your nose

Woman annoyed at laptop crash
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Butsaya)

Some Mac users are being affected by an unexplained bug that causes macOS to automatically update to the new macOS Sonoma. The issue appears to have been ongoing for a few weeks now, with gradually more users affected, but only Mac devices that were previously running macOS Ventura. The complaints have been highlighted on Apple’s forums and Reddit, though we’ve yet to hear any official statement from Apple.

MacRumors reports that the complaints have also been posted on its own forums, detailing that the forced Sonoma update can occur even with automatic updates turned off. A majority of the complaints reported that a desktop notification would pop up alerting users that the Sonoma update was available, and despite the notification being dismissed their Mac would begin to install Sonoma anyway. 

So far Apple hasn’t commented on this unusual situation and it’s currently unclear why some Macs are auto-updating without permission while others remain on macOS Ventura. There doesn’t seem to be any particular device being affected; everything from iMacs to the M1 MacBook Air seems to be vulnerable.

Right under my nose!

While this is definitely an annoying issue, if you’ve had this strange forced upgrade happen to your device you can at least go back to the previous Ventura update. We should note that Apple allows you to downgrade older software a lot easier on Macs than it does with iOS updates on iPhones, so you’ll be able to downgrade back to Ventura. 

If you do want to return to Ventura - perhaps because you’ve got an older Mac product that is struggling with the Sonoma update - you’ll have to use the Time Machine recovery function to do so. If you made a Time Machine backup before the Sonoma upgrade, it’s a pretty streamlined process. You can restart your Mac in recovery mode and select the option to Restore from the Time Machine Backup, which once restored should take you back to Ventura.

That being said, we wouldn’t recommend doing this just yet; at least, not until we get more information from Apple as to how to move forward. Recovery from Time Machine may work, but it does put you at risk of losing valuable data. Another possible option is to factory-reset your Mac (if it’s an older model) which will return it to the original macOS version it shipped with and then allow you to update to Ventura - but again, this is an extreme measure and you’ll need to back up all your files first.

If you’d like to double-check what version of macOS you are on and make sure your automatic updates are turned off (though that might not protect you from this glitch), open up your System Settings app and head over to the ‘Software Update’ section of the general settings. Once you’re there you’ll be able to see what version of macOS your device is currently running on and whether or not your automatic updates are enabled or not. 

Hopefully, Apple will soon release an official comment (and bug fix!) to resolve this issue. Until then, keep an eye on your Mac…

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).