by Tony Gamble
Hey, Mac users. Have you ever had an update show up in your Mac App Store, only to discover that when you try to update it, you’re asked to sign in with an email address you don’t recognize? This happened to me recently, and finding the solution was not easy. Well, my pain is your gain.
During my research, I found constant mention of this problem being linked to pirated software. I don’t ever recall installing a hacked app connected to the MAS (Mac App Store), and it is my understanding doing so requires significant effort, so I’m sure I would remember. The app in question was Twitter, available as a free download and therefore requiring no tomfoolery to acquire. Regardless, this app insisted that there was an update available, and that I should sign in with my Apple ID firstname.lastname@example.org in order to download. Wait… who? This ID bore no resemblance to my own, nor did it point to anybody I know personally. Clearly the pre-filled field was in error. I proceeded to sign in with my own Apple ID, only to be curtly presented with an error window with the clear-as-mud code #4.
What followed was a series of steps on my part to clean out caches, delete preference files, reboot repeatedly… but all to no avail. This accursed app update held firm, taunting me with its little red notification on the App Store dock icon. The app itself wasn’t even present in my Applications folder!
I was led on several wild Googly-goose chases before I finally landed on the solution. The error is indeed caused by software obtained not through official channels, a lesson to me on allowing a certain teen nephew temporary access to my machine. Although I had cleared out any apps not installed by myself, the problem persisted until I followed these simple steps:
1. Open System Preferences, click on Spotlight, click on the Privacy tab and add the entire hard drive to the list of items to be excluded from Spotlight indexing (if you have a backup drive attached, add it as well).
2. Log out or reboot.
3. Log back in and check the Mac App Store. The erroneous update should now be gone.
Afterwards, don’t forget to go back in and remove your main drive from the Privacy list. If you have a backup drive attached, I would recommend leaving it in the Privacy list to prevent duplicate search results.
Do you have a puzzling problem with your Mac, PC or mobile device? Let me know. I’m always looking for the next tech mystery to solve.