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Is there a way to tell Steam on Mac to not update itself when it hasn't been manually launched?

I have now seen problems with this on two MacBooks. Without even trying to run Steam for anything, suddenly the system slows to a crawl, sometimes the entire screen even goes black, other programs I'm using stall with the wait timer icon, and then a progress dialog appears showing how far my unwanted Steam update is progressing.

Short of deleting Steam, is there a way to make it not update itself when not being used?

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  • Do you let Steam launch on startup? Since it's just a program like any other, not a system process of some kind, I can't imagine how it could be running itself otherwise. – SevenSidedDie Feb 20 '15 at 19:06
  • I ran the Steam installer without noticing that I had any control over whether to let Steam launch on startup. Is there a place to tell it not to load on startup? When it's running in the background, is there a place to tell it to stop once it is loaded? – Dronz Feb 20 '15 at 19:11
  • Normal Mac programs can't run in the background, so just switch to it and ⌘Q or use the menu to quit. I'll write up a proper answer with a screenshot of how to prevent it from launching on startup. – SevenSidedDie Feb 20 '15 at 19:14
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Steam's option to launch on startup is on by default. You can change it by going to the menu bar and choosing SteamPreferences… to open Steam's Preferences window. Then in the Preferences window choose Interface (I know, that's not intuitive, is it), and uncheck Run Steam when my computer starts:

Steam Preferences window with a freehand circle around the "Run Steam when my computer starts" option

To stop an already-running Steam, just switch to its window and quit using the menu (SteamQuit) or the Quit keyboard shortcut (⌘Q).

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