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I have Windows Update set to download only, to avoid unexpected restarts forced by automatic installs. However, I would also like to be able to download some optional updates and install at a later date, is this possible?

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I am not quite sure for "Later" installation option. however, you can "Hide Update" enter image description here

And either you can change the Settings to

enter image description here

So, you can "Download updates" and choose whether to install later on.

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Thanks, but the settings option seems to only apply to important updates. I specifically want to download when online, but install offline. –  James Oct 15 '11 at 13:16
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I'm assuming you have either never check or check but let me choose to download and install.

After you check for updates, click the optional updates. After they are downloaded, they will sit there. You can have to hit the button install updates to install them later.

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I have "download updates but let me choose whether to install them". I can tick the optional ones, but they don't download, and there is only the install button to click. –  James Oct 22 '11 at 11:21
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