How to programmatically disable Adobe Updater

By default, the Adobe Updater application that is installed along side various Adobe products like Acrobat and Photoshop is set to check for updates automatically. Specifically, it’s set to check for updates to all installed Adobe products every week, and to download all updates and then notify you when they are ready to be installed. In this post, I’ll explain how to disable this feature by editing a settings file while avoiding the GUI.

Adobe Updater Preferences

Adobe Updater Preferences

In a managed environment, an administrator may not want any software to update itself for any number of reasons. The automatic check can be switched off in the Adobe Updater preferences, but it can be a nuisance to find and requires as many as 9 clicks.

Adobe Updater can be launched from within Adobe products by clicking Help | Check for Updates (note that in some products, the path is Help | Updates, but in either case, you can use the keystroke Alt+H, U). Click Preferences, then uncheck the box next to Automatically check for Adobe updates and click OK, then close the Adobe Updater window. You may have to click Quit in a subsequent window before the application closes.

For a more direct route, the Adobe Updater executable installed with Reader 9 resides at
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdater.exe on a 64-bit Windows 7 machine, and at
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdater.exe on a 32-bit Windows XP machine.

All of the configurable settings are saved to a file named AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat in the user profile, rather than as registry keys. The .dat file extension suggests a binary file, but it’s actually just an XML document that can be opened in any text editor.

The preferences file resides at
C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat on a 64-bit Windows 7 machine, and at
C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat on a 32-bit Windows XP machine.

The minimum lines that need to exist for the file to be valid and for “Automatically check for Adobe updates” to be disabled are:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<AdobeUpdater>
<AutoCheck>0</AutoCheck>
</AdobeUpdater>

To disable the auto update check programmatically, this file can be saved as AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat and a script used to later overwrite the file in the user profile. A rather geekier approach would be to use a batch file to rename AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat and then write a new file. I prefer the latter method because it requires only a single file and because it could be easily modified to insert lines that would change other settings, such as the location of the aum.log log file or the download directory, which are located in the user profile by default.

A batch file to back-up and then remake the file might look like this:

:: A batch file for writing a new Adobe Updater settings file "AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat"
:: If an AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat exists, it is edited and then the next next location is checked, until the script has iterated through all locations
@echo off

%SystemDrive%
cd\
SETLOCAL EnableDelayedExpansion

:: Check each location and if the file is found, pass the directory and a label (to the next path to be searched or to an EXIT command) to the function

:XPUpdater6
@echo.
echo Checking for "%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat"
if exist "%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat" (call:REWRITE "%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Updater6",XPUpdater5) else (@echo The AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat file was not found.)

:XPUpdater5
@echo.
echo Checking for "%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Updater5\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat"
if exist "%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Updater5\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat" (call:REWRITE "%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Updater5",OUT) else (@echo The AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat file was not found.)

:OUT
@pause
exit

:REWRITE
:: Configure Adobe Update to not check for updates
:: Move to the correct directory
cd %~1
:: Delete any temp file that this script may have created in the past
if exist AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat.temp del AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat.temp
:: Backup the old file
rename AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat.temp
:: Write a new minimum settings file (the other data will be filled in when Auto Updater runs)
echo ^<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
echo ^<AdobeUpdater^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
echo ^<AutoCheck^>0^</AutoCheck^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
echo ^</AdobeUpdater^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
:: Rename the new file
rename AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat
@echo The AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat file was found and modified.
:: Go to the next location in the list
goto :%~2
goto :EOF

File locations in Windows 7

Note that in Windows 7, “%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\” and “%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\” contain the same data. A file added to a subdirectory in one location will appear in the corresponding subdirectory in the other location. So this script will work on Windows 7 because of 7’s backwards compatibility.

If you wanted to the script to run using Windows 7’s native C:\Users\… directory structure and did not care about the loss of compatibility with XP, you could use the following script instead.

:: A batch file for writing a new Adobe Updater settings file "AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat"
:: If an AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat exists, it is edited and then the next next location is checked, until the script has iterated through all locations
@echo off

%SystemDrive%
cd\
SETLOCAL EnableDelayedExpansion

:: Check each location and if the file is found, pass the directory and a label (to the next path to be searched or to an EXIT command) to the function

:WIN7Updater6
@echo.
echo Checking for "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat"
if exist "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater6\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat" (call:REWRITE "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater6",WIN7Updater5) else (@echo The AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat file was not found.)

:WIN7Updater5
@echo.
echo Checking for "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater5\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat"
if exist "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater5\AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat" (call:REWRITE "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater5",OUT) else (@echo The AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat file was not found.)

:OUT
@pause
exit

:REWRITE
:: Configure Adobe Update to not check for updates
:: Move to the correct directory
cd %~1
:: Delete any temp file that this script may have created in the past
if exist AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat.temp del AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat.temp
:: Backup the old file
rename AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat.temp
:: Write a new minimum settings file (the other data will be filled in when Auto Updater runs)
echo ^<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
echo ^<AdobeUpdater^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
echo ^<AutoCheck^>0^</AutoCheck^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
echo ^</AdobeUpdater^> >> AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt
:: Rename the new file
rename AdobeUpdaterPrefs.txt AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat
@echo The AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat file was found and modified.
:: Go to the next location in the list
goto :%~2
goto :EOF

Additional benefits

Modifying the preferences file could have other benefits as well. Imagine the time and disk space that could saved by having all of those incremental Adobe updates saved to a network location, rather than downloading them to each workstation.

3 thoughts on “How to programmatically disable Adobe Updater

  1. Dev

    One question Ardamis:

    Any particular reason for searching for the Updater6 folder first over Updater5? Reason for asking is I am seeing both an Updater5 and 6 folder on some machines and would want to make sure I’m covering all potential Adobe updates with the new update settings. Thanks.

  2. ardamis Post author

    Our workstations also have both Updater5 and Updater6 folders. This seems to be due to having installed Acrobat 8 (Updater5) and Reader 9 (Updater6). Changes to the Auto Update preferences made from either application change the AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat file in the respective folder, so both locations should be checked when disabling Auto Update.

    I’ve updated the script to look through both of these folders, if they exist.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

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