Apple has stopped providing standalone installers for macOS updates

Apple released macOS Big Sur 11.1 on 14 December. Although yesterday it finally posted standalone installers for the two concomitant security updates to Catalina and Mojave, no standalone updaters for Big Sur have appeared yet. Neither has it made available a standalone updater for macOS 11.0.1, which was released over a month ago.

If you feel that you “have a need for individual downloads for Big Sur delta/combo updaters”, please let Apple know. In the strongest possible terms, via Feedback, Apple Support and any other means available.

Unless a strong case is made for the reinstatement of standalone installer versions of Big Sur updates, it’s most likely that none will be provided for download – as has already happened with the 11.0.1 and 11.1 updates.

(I am very grateful to Mr Macintosh for drawing my attention to this issue. This article has been amended since publication. The original reported accurately a tweet which may not have fully reflected the situation. I hope this rewritten version is more helpful to all concerned.)


Several users have asked why these updaters are so important. Here are some good reasons for us needing them:

  • Reinstalling Safari, which isn’t on the protected System volume, but on the Data volume and can therefore become corrupted without breaking the seal. Without an updater, the only way of reinstalling Safari is within the latest full macOS installer. That’s a download of around 13 GB and a lengthy install process, all for a browser.
  • To create any release of that major version of macOS. What I normally do is save the initial .0 release of each major release of macOS. If I then need to go back to any earlier version of the major release, all I have to do is install the .0 release and apply the relevant Combo update. This is important for developers, security researchers, and for any user who might encounter problems with a particular release of macOS. Without standalone installers, they would have to download and save every single release of the major version of macOS.
  • An effective panacea for some system problems. Although most of each update is installed on the protected System volume, and therefore now ‘guaranteed’ to be intact and not corrupted, there is also quite a lot of the system (in addition to Safari) which is mutable, and installed outside that protection, on the Data volume. Installing the latest Combo updater has long been an effective means of fixing some macOS problems, and there’s no evidence that has suddenly changed.

I’m sure you can think of others. Please make your case to Apple so that this valuable service can be reinstated quickly.