Apple has improved Mac MDM with this important feature

A growing number of Mac users have always been able to set apps to launch when they log into their computer, but that changed in macOS Ventura. Login items are now managed in a different place, and Apple has made it possible for Mac admins to manage them using MDM software.

Where are my login items?

Traditionally on a Mac, login items were managed in the Users & Groups section of System Preferences. This changes with Ventura — not only do System Preferences become System Settings, but they’ve been moved to a new section found in the General section.

Login items are typically applications that you tell your Mac to launch automatically when you log in, but also include other processes, such as launch agents or launch daemons, that are necessary for certain applications to function consistently.

If you’re an IT manager running Macs, you already know that the MDM service you use will have Launch Agent installed to run on Macs enrolled. They are also available in login items.

What changes in macOS Ventura?

The two biggest changes to this approach are as follows:

  • Transferring settings from users and groups to general
  • Making more items launched at login more visible

The latter means that software components, installer packages, and other items requiring individual applications that must be launched at startup are now visible.

Once installed, users will receive a notification alerting them that the installation has occurred and these items can also be disabled in the login items. This is a big change, as until now such items were often invisible to the end user

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Changes have also been made to the Login Items section. It now offers two broad categories: Open at login and Allow in background.

  • The former will be the home for any applications (such as your browser) that you want your Mac to open automatically when you log in.
  • The latter would include any background items, such as MDM software.

Users can check and uncheck a box next to these background processes to prevent them from running automatically if they wish. They cannot, however, disable the MDM system agent; Only admins can do this from within the console of their chosen system.

What about admins?

Mac administrators can now remotely manage logins and background items on their Mac fleet through their MDM software of choice. This means they can emphasize certain items running on each Mac or disable items that don’t meet security policy requirements.

Apple also introduced a new SMAppService API, which MDM systems use to manage these items, which is explained here. This is essential as administrators try to secure Macs for use outside of standard security perimeters. Apple continues to aim to make the Mac more secure than ever.

Are there other changes?

This isn’t the only change Apple has made to System Settings (Ventura) compared to System Preferences (previous iterations of macOS). Not only have they been redesigned to echo the iPad and iPhone settings, but they feature new categories for:

  • game controller
  • Play Center
  • Lock screen (which goes beyond security and privacy)
  • Desktop and Dock (formerly Desktop and Screen Saver and Dock and Menu Bar)
  • Screen saver (once available on desktop and screen saver)
  • Wallpaper (also available once on desktop and screen saver)

If you can’t find a particular control because it’s been moved, you can use the advanced search facility to track it down.

Additional improvements in MacOS Ventura

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