For the first time (that I've seen), some piece of Google's software updater is now asking for permission to control my computer.

Google Software Update screenshot

I couldn't find any other mention of this on the web, so I don't know if this is a new change, or some unknown configuration change I've made on my computer?

This is running under Mavericks 13A598, on a retina MacBook Pro.

It seems to be a legitimate piece of kit: https://support.google.com/installer/answer/100386

But I'm curious:

  1. What it would like to control?
  2. How can I determine the actual source of this application, to ensure it's not just a rogue piece of software masquerading as Google Software Update?
  • 2
    As long as you don't know, if it's really google, I would definitely deny! – Christian Oct 10 '13 at 12:51
  • @Chris Sure - but this thing, Google or not, is on my machine somewhere. I would very much like to find it. :) – Craig Otis Oct 10 '13 at 12:59
  • I do believe chrome has a remote access client - the backend's in chrome, and you can activate it with a extention. Its probably referring to that. I wonder if its to do with that – Journeyman Geek Oct 10 '13 at 13:05
  • 2
    I would deny; if it's google updater, denying will simply leave you with an older version. But wanting to do it via accessibility would make me very wary that it wasn't google at all. Were you browsing (without Chrome, from what you say) at the time? I would also avoid hitting "deny" especially if that shows (using normal mouse cursors) a hand instead of arrow; instead, kill the window because if it's an exploit, the "deny" button could just as easily be giving permissions to do something. Check Services to see if google updater is even installed. – Debra Oct 10 '13 at 13:27
  • 4
    Wow, not a single actual answer to this question here. – asmeurer Feb 7 '14 at 16:45

I've received feedback from the Chromium team and the issue is now closed as they stated it's a legitimate Google request. See message from the Chromium team below. Ironically, it opens up more questions. Any additional comments can be seen on the issue page at the Chromium project.

Message from Chromium team (Oct. 17, 2013):

You're right that Chromium does not autoupdate. And the autoupdater used by Google Chrome does not have a GUI element. This "Google Software Update" GUI app is the updater used by some other Google properties, like the AppEngine SDK, Picasa, etc.

Here's the original support issue (#307568) that I opened.

  • 8
    Sounds like it is legitimate, based on a new comment on that issue: "The autoupdater used by Google Chrome is supposed to be invisible, however it does use the common updater system shared by other Google products, which may trigger this alert on 10.9 depending on the products installed. Note that Chromium (mentioned in the initial report) does not ship with the updater. I've also gotten confirmation that it's completely safe to Deny this dialog." – Craig Otis Oct 23 '13 at 23:41
  • Another helpful comment, answering "What is the reason I'm seeing [this dialog] now?": "You're seeing it now probably because pre-Mavericks settings for this do not persist into Mavericks, so you have to re-authorize. Apple discusses this if you click on the ? icon in the lower left corner of the alert dialog asking you to grant access." – credford Dec 10 '13 at 12:29
  • 6
    It's funny that they've included a strictly technical explanation while skirting actually stating any facts–such as but not limited to why the permission is necessary in the first place. – Dustin Howett Dec 11 '13 at 19:54
  • 9
    Not to be critical, but this doesn't really answer the question. The question is not about Chromium, and as we now know Chromium has nothing to do with Google Software Update and the thread in Chromium issue #307568 is far from authoritative. – Stefan Lasiewski Dec 18 '13 at 19:54
  • 2
    @DustinHowett: The ticket now does have an explanation as to why the permission dialog is triggered; some of the updater scripts use osascript to ask System Events if a specific process is running (e.g. if Google Drive is running, alter how we upgrade tests). – Martijn Pieters May 6 '14 at 10:50

I decided to post this answer to expand on a comment on the accepted answer, because it provides important details as to why the dialog appears, according to one of the Chromium development team members. The details, as they appear in the issue thread, are as follows:

The Google Software Updater runs install scripts for each of the Google products that you have installed: Earth, Chrome, Drive, etc. Each of these scripts are unique because each product has to handle its own install flow.

Some of these scripts use osascript, which is how you can make AppleScript calls from a shell environment. The typical use case is for an installer script to check and see if the product it is updating is already running. An example would be:

$ osascript -e 'tell application "System Events" to exists application process "Google Chrome"'

Unfortunately in Mavericks these calls now make this dialog appear.

So that explains why the dialog appears. Based on that information, the permissions request seem legitimate, which is why I have decided to grant the requested access.

  • 2
    The less permissions Google has on your computer, the better off you'll be. Software which autoupdates in the background is a huge security issue, regardless of the provider. – Foliovision May 6 '19 at 7:55
  • That Google answer belies the other things you can do with OSAX: like watch literally everything the person does on their computer – New Alexandria Oct 11 '19 at 17:23

I am only using Google Drive and there is no Chrome on my machine so I suspect this message, which I received also after installing Maverick, is related to Google Drive and not Chrome. In any case this is not what I want, so, deny.

  • 2
    This isn't answer the question. For any minor information unrelated to answering should be posted as a comment – phuclv Oct 24 '13 at 11:35
  • 5
    @LưuVĩnhPhúc This answer identifies the source of the application, which was part of the question. – Aaron Adams Oct 27 '13 at 0:53
  • 1
    I just got this and searched for the message, coming here; a few moments after hitting "deny" my Google Drive toolbar icon popped open a message saying that it didn't have enough permissions to complete an update. The answer from @LeMontrealais says that several google software items use this permission to self-update so I'm guessing Drive is one of them too. – Ellen B Dec 14 '13 at 15:58

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.