OS X: Finding Mountain Lion’s Installed Software List

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Back in Lion, System Preferences > Software Update had some cool information under the Installed Software tab. You could check and see everything you'd installed using OS X's built-in updating system and sort by the names or the installation dates to find what you were looking for.

This was very good to know when problems cropped up, as you could see if your trouble began after you'd installed a particular update and do your troubleshooting armed with that knowledge. However, if you open System Preferences > Software Update under Mountain Lion, this is now what you get:

Aw, sad. Where'd my list of installed software go? Luckily, it's still around—it's just kind of hidden. To get to it, click on the Apple Menu, hold down the Option key to make About This Mac switch to System Information, and select that to open the program. Then scroll down the list on the left of the window and look for Installations, which is under the Software section.

When you select that, you'll be rewarded with the list of your installations, but with a handy new twist—both Mac App Store and third-party installations are now included, and each one lists where it came from.

Neat-o! So if you're having trouble, you can use this list to figure out if a potential culprit was installed when your problems began by clicking on the Install Date header to sort by that column. 

I gotta admit that I don't understand why this got moved, but hey—it makes System Information even more useful. And it was already pretty darned useful. For more information, check out Sandro Cuccia's excellent article on what System Information is and why you should care.

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Lee Dronick

“I gotta admit that I don’t understand why this got moved”

Sometimes I feel that Apple picked up some programmers and designers who had been let go by Facebook.

Melissa Holt

Hahahaha! You’re probably right. smile


This didn’t get moved as such, Apple simply decided to stop showing you the list of items installed by Software Update. It was only ever really useful for the occasions where an Apple Delta update broke things & you could check what had been installed & get the Combo installer instead (I may have that backwards and it may have been to 10.3 or 10.4 days IIRC).

Apple System Profiler (ASP) always listed these all installed applications, ‘System information’ is Apple’s new name for the same tool. I wonder if the command line tool is still called system_profiler in 10.8 or have Apple broken my system info shell scripts again?

ASP goes back through OSX & I think OS9 had the same tool.


It goes back to OS 7.6.

Those callipers & chip are engraved into my psyche.

Melissa Holt

Hey there droid,

You can still see the items installed by Software Update (they’re some of the ones listed as being from Apple, such as the Digital Raw Compatibility Update). The former System Profiler only listed Applications, not Installations—that’s why I feel this feature was essentially what was moved from System Preferences.

And it looks like the command-line tool is still system_profiler. At least, that still works on my Mountain Lion system. smile



Ah ah, that makes more sense.
Lets hope we don’t see any more combo/delta explosions anymore smile

Melissa Holt

I concur, droid! No explosions of any kind would pretty much be my preferred way of living. wink


You can still get to it without the option key. If you do about this Mac, then click on more info and then system info you get to the same place with the same result. Just have to go down a few layers but it clearly isn’t really hidden.
You don’t need to use the option key to see this information unlike the library folder.

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