Solution for "Update unavailable with this Apple ID"

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Introduction

When switching over my Apple ID, I, like many others, was faced with a common and well-documented error when trying to update Apple provided software. This includes Keynote, Pages, Numbers, GarageBand, iMovie, etc.

Update unavailable with this Apple ID

Now, it is well known that this issue is because when you purchase a Mac, the apps provided with the OS are accepted by the user and added to that user's account. This locks the applications to that user, so changing to a new Apple ID can render these applications locked.

The reason behind this escapes me. The applications are provided for free on every computer, but are still $30 or so on the App Store. Surely, if they were included, they would simply be free to purchase on the app store.

Some resources online say that you can contact Apple and they will resolve it. However, I am not a fan of waiting on hold for a free product. There must be a better way!

Investigation

It ends up that the implementation of this restriction is somewhat simple. I figured that if the applications arrived in an "unregistered" but still working state when the computer was purchased, surely there must be some way to revert them to that state. Surely enough, there is.

I took a look at the files inside the package. They all had the same timestamp, which was some time before I acquired the machine. Surely this was an initial state. There was, however, a folder called _MASReceipt that was marked with a more recent date, and likely the date that I got the computer.

Digging around a bit, it appears that Apple uses these receipts as a form of DRM. For most applications, removing these will not help you, and will not magically make DRM'd products DRM-free. However, due to the App Store's special treatment of built in apps, these are clearly treated differently, and this folder is created when the application is accepted for the first time.

Solution

  1. For each affected application, locate it in your Applications folder
  2. Right click the package and select "Show Package Contents"
  3. Open Contents inside
  4. Delete the _MASReceipt folder - you will need to enter your password
  5. Open the App Store and navigate to Updates
  6. Click Update and enter your password

When the update is complete, the folder will be generated again in a way that works with the new ID

I noticed that there was an issue if I attempted to do this for more than one application at a time, but results may vary.

Again, note that this will only work with the apps that Apple advertises as free with OSX, and this is due to the nature of how those apps are treated by the App Store.