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Mac App Store updates failing on Mojave, Part 2

February 26 2021 by Jeff Johnson
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A couple months ago I wrote about Mac App Store updates failing on Mojave. This issue continued for a while after my blog post, but eventually Apple seemed to resolve it. Temporarily. Unfortunately, a very similar issue has arisen recently. Some Mojave users say that this issue was caused by installing Security Update 2021-002, which was released on February 9. Other Mojave users say that the Security Update was just a coincidence in time. I can't say definitively one way or another, but I can say definitively that the issue currently affects me (I did install Security Update 2021-002) and many other Mojave users. Apple's support community discussions are full of reports of App Store failures. There's no longer a "cancelled" error message in App Store app, like there was back in December. Instead, the App Store progress spinner simply continues spinning, and the app never downloads. (I can tell that the app download never starts, because I have Little Snitch installed.) This issue affects both app updates and new app installs, making both fail, no matter how many times you try.

Fortunately, there's a workaround, which was discovered by some users in the aforementioned discussion forums. While the App Store progress spinner is stuck spinning, launch the Activity Monitor app, which is located in the Utilities subfolder of the Applications folder. Search for the appstoreagent process, and Force Quit that process. (After force quit, appstoreagent will automatically restart with a different pid.) Then try installing the app again. Keep the App Store app open the whole time. (This workaround is only temporary. You may have to repeat it every time you want to update or install an app.)

Activity Monitor Force Quit appstoreagent

What's the cause of the issue? I don't know. I did some analysis of the Console log, and I noticed that the successful and unsuccessful installations were identical up to a point:

commerce	StoreSession: StatusCode: 200; <private>; Environment: (null); URL: https://p42-buy.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZBuy.woa/wa/buyProduct
commerce	Purchase queue com.apple.appstore.interactive transaction <Transaction id:2E87B7DB-C948-4FF5-9769-3929E04D8E5D gid:915A8D76-A769-401E-82F5-943F2AFA5CFE state:Purchasing> finished
appstoreagent	[PreflightManager]: Downloading remote pre-flight from https://osxapps.itunes.apple.com/itunes-assets/Purple114/v4/06/fb/a3/06fba3f4-9579-0b31-f019-0320e4990653/signed.dcr.410616048391928380.pfpkg
commerce	appstoreagent[478] starting request https://osxapps.itunes.apple.com/itunes-assets/Purple114/v4/06/fb/a3/06fba3f4-9579-0b31-f019-0320e4990653/signed.dcr.410616048391928380.pfpkg
commerce	Task <34FC213B-30EB-4C0D-8C70-084AB60DE488>.<34> resuming, QOS(0x19)
commerce	Task <5863161D-D558-41CE-B8DB-3C998A7E7968>.<35> resuming, QOS(0x19)
commerce	Task <4A825D2F-2F73-460D-A476-25C3AA6CC86A>.<36> resuming, QOS(0x19)
commerce	Task <C3E1825E-F48D-4EC0-BF42-48F66DC9E582>.<37> resuming, QOS(0x19)
commerce	<CKStoreRequest: 0x7fc55c52c390> https://osxapps.itunes.apple.com/itunes-assets/Purple114/v4/06/fb/a3/06fba3f4-9579-0b31-f019-0320e4990653/signed.dcr.410616048391928380.pfpkg
commerce	Task <FA683C70-B1E7-424E-B63B-9591105B9324>.<38> resuming, QOS(0x19)
commerce	StoreSession: StatusCode: 200; <private>; Environment: (null); URL: https://osxapps.itunes.apple.com/itunes-assets/Purple114/v4/06/fb/a3/06fba3f4-9579-0b31-f019-0320e4990653/signed.dcr.410616048391928380.pfpkg
appstoreagent	[PreflightManager]: Remote pre-flight downloaded to file:///var/folders/8b/dp0d47js7qzbzkm142yjgl900000gn/C/com.apple.appstore/995724474/preflight.pfpkg
appstoreagent	[PreflightCheck]: Local pre-flight exists at file:///var/folders/8b/dp0d47js7qzbzkm142yjgl900000gn/C/com.apple.appstore/995724474/preflight.pfpkg. Evaluating.
appstoreagent	NSURLConnection finished with error - code -1100
trustd	cert[0]: ExtendedKeyUsage =(leaf)[]> 0
trustd	cert[1]: TemporalValidity =(leaf)[]> 0
trustd	asynchronously fetching CRL (http://crl.apple.com/root.crl) for client (appstoreagent[478]/0#-1 LF=0)
trustd	cert[1]: IntermediateEKU =(path)[]> 0
appstoreagent	Trust evaluate failure: [leaf ExtendedKeyUsage] [ca1 IntermediateEKU]
trustd	cert[1]: TemporalValidity =(path)[]> 0
trustd	cert[1]: TemporalValidity =(path)[]> 0
appstoreagent	[PreflightCheck]: Performing disk space check with 109914607616 bytes available on disk, 0 bytes alreay downloaded and 315652096 required bytes (installSize=702464 + fileSize=376832 + paddingSize=314572800)
appstoreagent	[PreflightCheck]: Preflight evaluation succeeded
appstoreagent	[CommerceKitPurchaseRequest]: Purchase complete for 995724474 resulting downloads are: (
    "<CKDownload: J42N_C_420081331171837:995724474:829713779>"
)

In the unsuccessful cases, appstoreagent simply stops after "Purchase complete", and the spinner keeps spinning. In the successful cases, on the other hand, appstoreagent continues by downloading the receipt data, the app icon, and then eventually the app itself.

appstoreagent	[CommerceKitDownloadManager]: Wrote 4732 bytes of receipt data to /var/folders/8b/dp0d47js7qzbzkm142yjgl900000gn/C/com.apple.appstore/995724474/receipt
appstoreagent	[CommerceKitDownloadManager]: Downloading icon from https://is3-ssl.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Purple124/v4/73/07/32/730732cd-89db-2037-413d-38410c8cee45/AppIcon-0-85-220-0-0-0-0-4-0-0-0-2x-sRGB-0-0-0.png/2000x2000bb.png
appstoreagent	[CommerceKitDownloadManager]: Starting CommerceKit download for 995724474
commerce	appstoreagent[478] starting request https://is3-ssl.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Purple124/v4/73/07/32/730732cd-89db-2037-413d-38410c8cee45/AppIcon-0-85-220-0-0-0-0-4-0-0-0-2x-sRGB-0-0-0.png/2000x2000bb.png
appstoreagent	[CommerceKitPurchaseRequest]: Completing 1 purchase(s) completed with 1 result(s)
appstoreagent	[PurchaseService]: [0883CBFE] Purchase completed successfully

Hopefully this information is useful to Apple engineering. Apple, please work on a fix ASAP! A lot of Mac users are still on Mojave. (Because, quite frankly, Catalina and Big Sur suck big time. Please do something about that too.)

Addendum March 3 2021

Good news, everyone! It appears that Apple has fixed this problem sometime within the past 24 hours. There was no Mojave software update, so it must have been a server-side change.

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