Friday, July 29, 2016

Managing the Dock on Apple MacOS Systems

We have been migrating the management of our computer labs at Dickinson to Profile Manager this summer and a recent sticking point was managing the Dock. In most cases Profile Manager does a good job of allowing you to specify the applications in the Dock but one of my colleagues wanted her users to be able to add other items they use frequently. Profile Manager includes an option to Merge with User's Dock, which does allow the user to add their own items, but the default Dock items that Apple places there are also present.

That's a lot of extra icons
In an effort to find a happy medium I researched where Apple stores the items that are added to the Dock when new users log into the computer for the first time. I found the answer over at JAMF Nation in this post: 

The following two commands will alter the two files that contain the default applications:

After the files are modified you can customize your own set of Dock applications using Profile Manager and select the Merge with User's Dock option. Users will then be able to add other applications to their dock but they won't be able to remove those you specified.

The one catch here is that since the files we are modifying are under /System they are protected by System Integrity Protection (SIP). That means that in order to make these changes you must first disable SIP. Whether or not you want to do that in your environment is a question you will have to answer yourself. You should also keep in mind that any updates from Apple might undo these changes and possibly make them more difficult in the future.