How to Manage the Secret Software That Google Chrome Installs on Your Mac

When you install Google Chrome, you're not just getting a browser. Google's automatic update software gets installed behind the scenes on your Mac, without your consent. This how-to explains why it's there, how to manage it and how to delete it if you don't need it.


All Mac users should be aware that when they install Google Chrome on their Mac, additional software is installed that is able to conduct automatic updates. In general, this is a Good Thing™, except for two things.

1. The user isn't notified that the software is being installed, nor given the option to decline. As a result, a false perception is created that the user is only installing a browser.

2. The update software has a fairly aggressive update cycle and has also been blamed for slowing a Mac down in a mysterious way. [Perhaps the update server wasn't responding.]

What You Need to Know

1. If you install any Google software on your Mac, such as Chrome, Hangouts, Earth, and so on, a Launch Agent and supporting software are also installed.

2. A check is made every 5 hours (18,000 seconds) to see if there's an update for one of the Google apps.

3. If you don't want to delete this auto update software but manage it instead, you can change the time interval of the checks to your liking.

4. If you elect to delete all your Google apps, not just one of several, you may want, for the sake of tidiness, to remove all the Google software. But if you run, say, Chrome again, it will all be re-installed.

Note: many Mac users disable or delete Adobe Flash from their Macs (or Windows) and use Google Chrome, with its built-in version of Flash, only when necessary to view a Flash video. WIth that in mind, it's a good idea to let Chrome always update itself with the latest version of Flash.

Software Locations

In your own account's Library, that is, /Users/your_account_name/Library as well as the the System Library, that is, Macintosh HD/Library/ look for these files. [If your own Library directory isn't visible, here's how to fix that.]

/Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate [Directory]

For example,

If you decide that you're done with all Google software and the auto-updater, delete the directory and files listed above plus the Google apps from your Applications directory.

Inspection & Awareness

If you're keeping the auto-updater and want to get a feel for what Google software is installed, when it was checked, and what update interval is, enter this command from the terminal.

defaults read

It will look something like this, depending on the Google apps you have installed.

Altair:~ john$ defaults read
    ActivesInfo =     {
        "" =         {
            LastActiveDate = "2015-07-15 22:25:41 +0000";
            LastActivePingDate = "2015-07-16 07:00:00 +0000";
            LastRollCallPingDate = "2015-08-31 07:00:00 +0000";
        "" =         {
            LastActiveDate = "2015-08-31 15:16:22 +0000";
            LastActivePingDate = "2015-08-31 07:00:00 +0000";
            LastRollCallPingDate = "2015-08-31 07:00:00 +0000";
        "" =         {
            LastRollCallPingDate = "2015-08-31 07:00:00 +0000";
        "" =         {
            LastActiveDate = "2015-08-28 16:02:11 +0000";
            LastActivePingDate = "2015-08-29 07:00:00 +0000";
            LastRollCallPingDate = "2015-08-31 07:00:00 +0000";
    ReportingAttributes =     {
    checkInterval = 18000;
    "firstRun-" = "2015-05-11 20:13:29 +0000";
    "firstRun-" = "2015-06-18 22:42:09 +0000";
    "firstRun-" = "2015-08-05 02:46:17 +0000";
    hasRunSystemKeystone = 1;
    lastCheck = "2015-06-18 16:49:46 +0000";
    "lastCheck-" = "2015-08-04 21:19:26 +0000";
    "lastCheck-" = "2015-08-31 15:16:26 +0000";

Change the Update Interval

If you'd like change the interval when the check is made, select the desired interval in hours and multiply by 3,600. For example, if you want the interval to be every 48 hours, calculate 48 x 3600 = 172800.

Then, enter this command in the terminal. [Copy and paste is always a good idea.]

defaults write checkInterval 172800

If you want to leave the software installed for future use but don't want any checks to occur for the time being, use a time interval of 0, a numeric zero. For example:

defaults write checkInterval 0

This is probably the best course of action for a temporary disable because the Google software takes up an insignificant amount of space on your drive, is always there if you need it, and you can enable it at any time with a non-zero update interval. In that case, revert to Google's default of 18000 seconds.

Final Thoughts

If you use Chrome as an alternative for viewing essential Flash videos, you should consider leaving the updater software as-is with its default update interval. Otherwise, you might forget to re-enable and software won't get its security updates.

Some observers have reacted strongly to this surreptitious installation of auto-updater, but in this era of constant security updates, knowledge of the software and the means to manage it is a better course than a hasty scrubbing.