Stop Office for Mac automatic updating

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Here’s how to stop Microsoft Office for Mac from automatically updating itself and why you might want to do that.

Office 2019 / 2016 for Mac

All versions of Office for Mac that have current support (currently Office 2016 and later) get:

  • updates to fix bugs in the software
  • patches to stop security bugs that might allow access to your computer.

Microsoft Office documents are far and away the most common way computers are infected, so fixing security bugs is important.

Mac users are lucky that many of those documents exploit bugs in Windows or Office for Windows.  Many, but not all.   Office for Mac is NOT immune from security problems.

Office 365

Office 365 software gets those security & non-security bug fixes plus new and updated features.

Why not automatically update?

Normally Office for Mac will update itself automatically.  Microsoft likes to pretend that’s a good and harmless process but it’s not.

Fixes for software bugs sometimes cause trouble.  Office 365’s new and changed features don’t always suit customers who prefer known and stable software.

Sometimes Microsoft software patches cause trouble.  Fixing software is a very complex business and the update causes more bugs!

Microsoft is slow to both admit an update mistake and slow to repair patch problems.  Only in major cases will the company quickly release a repair update. Normally they stick to their monthly release schedule, leaving customers hanging in the meantime.

Buggy Outlook patches yet again trouble Office users

“Something went wrong” fixing a bad Office 365 update

Even the Office 365 new and changed features don’t suit everyone.  Some customers, understandably, prefer stable and unchanging software they can depend on.  That’s an attitude Microsoft chooses not to acknowledge; they believe the rolling release of Office 365 changes to be an absolute good.

Update Automatically or not?

It’s hard to decide: update automatically or not.

According to Microsoft there’s no question: all customers should automatically update.

But that’s a self-serving and unrealistic recommendation which fits Microsoft’s perception of its own infallibility.

Why updating Office is like the Kobayashi Maru a ‘no win scenario’

The Joys of being a late Office adopter

Disable Updates

The direct way to disable updates is in any Office programs; Word, Excel, PowerPoint.  It doesn’t matter which program you use, the same setting applies to all of Office.

Start Microsoft AutoUpdate from any Office programs Help menu then Check for Updates.

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UNcheck the box ‘Automatically keep Microsoft Apps up to date’.

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Or choose ‘Advanced’ where you can choose which type of Office to get.  Production is the usual or one of the Insiders options.

Make sure ‘Automatically download and install’ is OFF.

Updates are disabled until specifically re-enabled.

We do NOT recommend disabling Office updates for a long period.  Perhaps every month or two let Office update, at a time of your choosing, not Microsoft’s.

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