Ventura and Monterey Users: Beware Unwanted Sonoma Upgrades 

Originally published at: Ventura and Monterey Users: Beware Unwanted Sonoma Upgrades  - TidBITS

Some macOS 13 Ventura and macOS 12 Monterey users are being upgraded to macOS 14 Sonoma after dismissing notifications that encourage an upgrade. It’s a nasty bug, but the TidBITS Talk community has some advice on how to avoid the forced upgrade.


3 posts were split to a new topic: FileMaker and Sonoma

I’m running Big Sur so am presumably unaffected by this situation. Nonetheless, I decided to uncheck “Check for updates”. (“Download new updates when available” and “Install macOS updates” were have been unchecked for years.) Unchecking “Check for updates” caused “Install system data files and security updates” to be unchecked.

I suppose this makes sense, since Software Update cannot install system data files or security updates if it doesn’t know they are available, but I had assumed that was a separate class, and evidently it isn’t.

Fortunately, I’m maxed out at Monterey on my MacBook Pro so Sonoma can’t be installed on it even if I wanted it!

Edit on 23 Jan 24: Even though my MBP can’t go past Monterey, I’ve disabled the automatic checking for updates since Apple apparently can’t be trusted anymore. I’ll periodically do manual checks from now on.

It happened to me as well. Using OpenCore Legacy Patcher, I’d upgraded my 2012 MBP to Monterey about a year ago, then about ten days ago decided to go up to Ventura with OpenCore. (If you do this, it’s important to run the post-install patches.)
Just a day or two afterwards, as I was getting used to Ventura, I was automatically upgraded to Sonoma without wanting to go there. I was miffed and thought maybe it was OpenCore’s fault. But no, it’s a bug that affects everyone now. Lots of people are going to be upset when it happens to them.
At first I experienced a few glitches with Sonoma–after all, this OS is running on a computer that’s not officially supported by Apple for this OS. But now after a few more days everything seems stable and I will stick with it.
Still, this is very bad behavior on Apple’s part, intentional or not, and it needs to be fixed right away.

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Aaaaak! So it wasn’t my fault! --I did read your note in TidBITS…24 hours too late. [SIGH]
I’m one of those folks deliberately not upgrading to Sonoma (in my case, because it gorks MailTags, which is the heart of my workflow), and I’m now trying to find a way to roll back to Monterey.

I do have a TimeMachine backup from a few hours before this happened – but those don’t contain system files. So I created (via Terminal) a thumb-drive w/the latest version of Monterey (downloaded yesterday), that hopefully is bootable; terminal didn’t report any errors when creating that drive. My machine is a 2020 Intel 27" iMac, so I used the Security Utilities (in the Sonoma Recovery Partition) to allow booting from an external drive – but haven’t tested it yet with “boot-drive picker” (I forget the real name, sorry), to see if at least the thumb drive is seen as a bootable disk. That I guess is my next step. (I also have a CCC “standard” clone of my machine on Sonoma, made today, in case the Worst happens, and there’s just no way to get Sonoma off my machine.)

Next thing is going to be calling Apple support (I do have AppleCare+ on that machine)–but since making that clone took longer than I expected, I’m planning to wait until tomorrow morning, to have a better chance of reaching a tech who can understand my issue, and connect me with the right person. But…maybe someone here knows what I should do next?

If not…please accept my RANT as a representative of what I now gather must be many-many folk in my position. And yes, by all means, I’ll be filing a bug report!

PS: In my case, this happened when I was installing something else entirely that required a restart to fully install – not, as I recall, by my clicking the “upgrade to Sonoma” notification. So that’s another circumstance for people to be careful about.


WTF, Apple? Which would you rather have me believe?

  1. You’re slimy enough to pull a Microsoft trick to get people to upgrade?

  2. Your SQA is so bad they let this slip through?

Either way, it’s a HORRIBLE INDICTMENT on the state of Apple and particularly Apple’s software leadership.

dave (who used to write software, and then evaluate other people’s software intensive systems, for a living.)


While I understand that most people don’t have a “reason to fear” an update, my wife and I are both audio professionals, and we DO have reasons. For me personally, I use Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 3 for gigs every week. Their website says that there’s a memory issue with SD3 & Sonoma, so it’s a no-go for me. My wife uses ProTools and upgrades with that are always a nightmare, as they’re so far behind with regard to OS updates.

Are we on the fringes? Yes. But we use Macs because they’re the best tools for the jobs we do. I thought the constant badge on Settings was bad!


It happened to me a few days ago (before I got the TB Talk email). I think Jan 14 or 15.
Same as the others–I was set to only download Software Updates (not install). This never happened previously. I do not remember getting a message about updating to Sonoma.
The update happened when I re-booted. I normally just “Sleep” the computer–I don’t remember why I wanted to re-boot that time. I re-booted and then went away once I was satisfied it had re-started. I came back a while later and was surprised it was still re-booting. Then I noticed a message saying something about “…9 minutes…” and thought that was very strange and I paid more attention. Re-booting is relative quick on my system due to the SSD. When it finished it presented me with some options that are only presented after a system install and, sure enough, there was the Sonoma desktop after I had dismissed/responded to the windows.

I thought I had done something stupid or that Alzheimer’s had kicked in (I’m 70) so, in a way, I’m happy to learn that it was an Apple error.

I’m still annoyed as I have some old hardware and software that might not be supported. I still haven’t checked as I thought I was “stuck” with Sonoma unless I wanted to recover via Time Machine on a spinning drive. There was nothing in Sonoma that appealed to me so I did not bother to check if drivers and/or updated software for my hardware and apps were Sonoma-friendly (Sonoma-hardened?). In fact I had only updated to Ventura a few months ago because I thought Big Sur support was going to be dropped or, at least, significantly reduced.

By the way I was running Ventura (the latest) on a 27-inch iMac 2019 (Intel-series of course).

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Your warning about this bug came just about 24 hours too late. On Sunday morning I rebooted my Intel Mac Mini running macOS Ventura, wondered why it was taking so long and was flabbergasted to find myself in Sonoma-land. I reflected over breakfast whether or not just to live with it. But no. I’m clinging on to Ventura because I’m clinging on to some Apple Mail plug-ins. Tho’ I know I’m going to need to change my email client, I was not ready to look into that on Sunday. So instead my Sunday was ruined by the process of rolling back the upgrade and restoring from a Time Machine backup, all the while wondering whether I’d lost my mind. My System Settings have long been to allow security updates but to notify me of anything more. A few days ago I did take a look at the System Settings because of a notification about upgrading to Sonoma, and I did upgrade Safari. I will most definitely make a report to Apple Support about this.


Thanks for sharing. I’ve seen 3 unwanted Sonoma upgrades in the last few days with my clients, all are long time Mac users and know it’s not allowed to upgrade without IT approval. It’s good to know, for them and IT, that the fault is not theirs.


As I said on the original thread, I was mostly fortunate in that the update was consequence-free, although it still bothers me a little bit that I didn’t really think about it much until @Shamino mentioned it. I’m freshly middle-aged and technical, so I blame myself for that error of judgement. Unfortunately the operative word there is “mostly”; I can no longer use virtual machines due to a bug new in Sonoma, and so have had to BootCamp this 2020 iMac to run Windows post-haste, whilst I consider my options. Downgrading would not be something I want to do; neither would living without virtual machines. Looks like a new virtual machine manager is on the cards for me, or more of my time spent in Windows.

I feel bad for everybody who was hit by this and had legitimate reason to be put out. It’s no consolation that this was clearly a bug; it was still unacceptable.

I always turn auto updates off except for security. I have a faint memory of seeing this some versions ago and did a deep dive to see what caused it and made sure all auto updates for OS were off. Not an issue for months (years?). I dunno. I don’t keep a log book of this nonsense… :roll_eyes:

Very helpful article, Adam. Thank you. This might indeed affect some of my clients so I’ll keep an eye out for it.

As for myself, I have a very valid reason for not upgrading. I use Smallcubed Mailsuite and their programs won’t run on Sonoma. If Sonoma were to install a main workflow (my email) would be completely broken.

I recently checked “software updates” while on my Intel MBP running 13.6.3, and apparently there is now a Ventura update available for version 13.6.4, stating it does address security, but I am not sure if the fix for the “nasty bug” of installing Sonoma without permission is included in this update.

I did get the faulty notification as well on my MBP (while running 13.6.3), but somehow I got lucky, and the Apple software never tried to force Sonoma on my MBP without permission.

Editorial comment: Apple software releases are increasingly more disturbing and troublesome.

I have commented on this Apple-software-development problem in the past, specifically addressing an old piece of software (local syncing of the Calendar between a Mac and an iPad), which used to work prior to Ventura. Almost no one seemed to care about this Ventura-introduced bug, because most people apparently have “moved on” to cloud syncing.

This recent bug regarding “forcing” some users to update to Sonoma without permission, is larger in scope, and consequences.

It was bad enough when we were dealing with hacking, breaches, misinformation, disinformation, and the other digital landmines facing current society. Now we are unable to even trust, and rely on Apple, on top of things. This situation is inexcusable, and please Adam, I don’t see defending Apple at this point.

The old Apple (attributed to Steve Jobs?) motto, credo, or whatever you want to call it, “It justs works!” is sadly, no longer applicable.


No one’s defending Apple—it’s a nasty bug, and it’s a shame that it got through.

But simultaneously, there’s nothing new here. There have always been bugs, and there was never a time when everything just worked. I’ve been covering Apple for 34 years, and part of the reason I’ve never lacked for content is that there’s always something going wrong.

If anyone really believes they can’t trust Apple because of this bug, they should switch to a different platform.

By the way, “It just works” was a phase that Steve Jobs repeated during the 2011 WWDC keynote while introducing iCloud, but it was never about software quality, it was about data syncing automatically in the background and Apple’s advantage in controlling both hardware and software.


I was using cloud syncing of calendars with Google long before there was an iCloud (on Windows Mobile and then Android and then iPad and then iPhone). I’ve since moved on to iCloud and I would never go back. Just as an example, I am currently out of the country but my calendar syncing is working perfectly and my Macs remain back at home.

Same with contacts.

It’s dead reliable and, again, I don’t need to sync with my Mac to get everything in sync. It’s just instantly in sync.

Unless there is some specific legal reason why you need to sync with a local repository, at least for calendars and contacts, iCloud (or Google, if you have a Gmail account) calendar (and contact) syncing is something worth strongly thinking about.

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Adam, Thank you for your note.

Having been a software engineer for most of my career, at a major U.S. avioinics company, I realize that software is often super-complex (good example, macOS), software always has inherent risks, no software is bug free, people make mistakes (hopefully honest mistakes, and not sloppy mistakes), etc., etc., etc.

However, here is what really, really bugs me: Is it necessary to introduce bugs into software which at some point in time worked fine? It seems to me there should be a decent and robust set of regression tests which would catch (most of ?) these types of bugs.


I agree with you totally. In fact, I was pondering this very notion before I wrote my original comment to this thread. The basic issue for me is: The Apple platform is the least bad platform out there, in my opinion. So in spite of all my gripes about Apple software development, I guess I will just have to live with it all. I am still in the process of making this adjustment.

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Preferred app to replace Apple’s Calendar with a move from USB to cloud syncing too