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Manage those Macs: A guide for Windows admins

Ryan Faas | April 15, 2016
Our primer on Mac management policies will help you roll out a secure, productive fleet en masse

Additional policies to round out your fleet

In addition to the policies listed above, Apple provides a range of policy options for configuring the Mac user experience. Some organizations will find these policies helpful for all Macs or only a subset of their fleet. These policies include the ability to preconfigure AirPlay; to set up access to a CalDAV server and a CardDAV server in the Calendar and Contacts apps; to establish the ability to install additional fonts; to configure access to an LDAP server solely for the purpose of looking up contact data; to preconfigure POP and IMAP accounts in the Mail app; to configure and add items (Web clips, folders, apps) to the Dock; to set Energy Saver preferences, as well as startup/shut down/wake/sleep schedules; to enable a simplified version of Finder and block certain commands, such as Connect to Server, Eject Volume, Burn Disc, Go to Folder, Restart, and Shut Down; to specify items that should automatically open at login; to configure accessibility features for users with disabilities; to set up Jabber accounts in the Messages app; and so on.

There is also an option to prepopulate user account identification when a profile is installed. This is generally used when profiles are installed on individual Macs. When a Mac is joined to a directory, user account information is retrieved from the directory.

The Software Update policy is relevant for organizations deploying OS X Server for use as a local Software Update Server. OS X Server has the ability to cache local copies of Apple Software Updates in order to improve performance and reduce network congestion when updating your fleet.

Custom Settings: Your policy for defining app or system settings

The Custom Settings policy plays an important role in maximizing IT's ability to manage the entire Mac user experience. It allows an admin to specify settings for any installed apps and additional OS X features even if those apps or features don't have an explicit policy defined by Apple. When used, the XML data from an app or feature's preferences file must be specified. The easiest way to use this option is to configure an app or feature with the desired setting, and then locate the appropriate .plist file (typically in /Library/Preferences directory within the current user's home folder). Alternatively, the related XML keys and information can be entered manually.

Policy interaction

Since policies can be applied based on individual Macs, groups of Macs, individual user accounts, or user groups, there are situations where multiple policies may be applied at one time. The resulting experience depends largely on the type of policy.

The majority of policies add a configuration element; when there are multiple instances of these policies, all of them are applied. For example, if a Mac has a policy that specifies Dock items and a user is a member of two groups that each specify additional Dock items, that user will see a combined set of all specified Dock items when he or she logs into that Mac. (Another user logging into that same Mac would see the Dock items specified to that Mac, as well as any specified to his or her group affiliations.)

 

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