How to update Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 – despite Microsoft Database Daemon and SyncServicesAgent errors

Every time I try to update Microsoft Office 2011 on my Mac I get this ridiculous window popping up. No matter how hard you try, those two services – Microsoft Database Daemon and SyncServicesAgent – keep relaunching themselves, forever preventing you to apply the update.

Clearly Microsoft (or Apple) don’t want us to update Office for Mac:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 14.49.45Usually I give up and live without such updates. I only use M$ Office once in a blue moon and really don’t care. Today I got curious and researched this phenomenon – and thought I’d tell you about it.

Several suggestions are available to combat this superb example of a terrible user experience:

  • rename those processes
  • log out, then log back in with the shift key held down
  • go offline just before this message comes up
  • kill the processes with the Activity Monitor Utility

None of those suggestions worked for me, and besides: what a hack any of these solutions are to apply a simple security patch.

What did work was a very clever suggestion by someone named vrleboss: Use a while loop on the command line and continually kill those processes until you’re done.

Here’s how to do it: Open the Terminal utility on your Mac and paste the following code:

while true; do kill $(ps -ef | grep -i SyncServices | grep -v grep | awk '{print $2} '); done

You can do this without quitting anything else, even while the pesky “close applications” window is displayed. Make sure the whole command is on the same line. The is a BASH loop that will find both processes and kill them as soon as they start up again. Don’t worry about the continuous text output in the window.

Back in the Microsoft Updater window, hit “Close Applications and Install”. Now it works!

Once the update is applied, head back to the Terminal window and press CTRL+C – this will stop the killing loop. Close Terminal and Office for Mac is finally updated.

Then repeat this process next week, when another 140MB of updates will have to be applied.

Watch the Screencast

Update May 2015

Looks like Microsoft have finally found a way to make updates happen without the necessity for such backdoor hackery. Since version 14.5.0 I was able to update both my systems without the above code.

I thought I’d take a screencast on this happy occasion (because I still can’t believe it myself):





Jay is the CEO and founder of WP Hosting, a boutique style managed WordPress hosting and support service. He has been working with Plesk since version 9 and is a qualified Parallels Automation Professional. In his spare time he likes to develop iOS apps and WordPress plugins, or draw on tablet devices. He blogs about his coding journey at http://wpguru.co.uk and http://pinkstone.co.uk.