Using Santa to block Mojave upgrades

In the past, I'd used the fake installer approach to stop users from upgrading to the newest macOS version.

But with macOS 10.14 (Mojave), you can block using Santa (see Using Santa to block an .app for more details on general Santa use). It's possible this Santa-blocking approach may have worked for High Sierra and Sierra as well—I haven't tested it on those.

Just download Mojave to your Mac, and then run

santactl fileinfo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --key SHA-256
to get the hash to block.

For 10.14 (this will change for 10.14.1 and later versions), this command should add it to the Santa blacklist:

/usr/local/bin/santactl rule --blacklist --sha256 "590a8fda56798b456ccc4225ef62aea010c945d17bb4a452bf3f544fdba241d6"

We were able to test this on two Mojave installers downloaded using two separate Apple IDs, so the binary seems to be the same regardless of which Apple ID is used to download it.

If a user then tries to run the Mojave installer, she or he will see a message like this:

Again, since it's based on binary (and since all Apple certificates are whitelisted, so you have to block by binary), you would have to create a new rule for every new Mojave installer that comes out (10.14.1, 10.14.2, 10.14.3, etc.).

Using ffmpeg to trim video

No real tutorial here, just a link to a great resource on this via Stack Overflow:
Cutting the videos based on start and end time using ffmpeg

Cutting with ffmpeg takes a lot less longer than rendering out via iMovie, and it results in a similarly sized output file instead of a giant one

P.S. My boss just showed me how you can do this in Quicktime with Edit > Trim. Much easier!

Waiting for FileVault encryption to finish to install macOS updates

If you notice you can't install new macOS updates on a Mac, it could be that it's still in the process of FileVault encrypting.

For example, here's a machine that's on macOS 10.13.4.

softwareupdate can't find any updates.

And even if you try to manually install the 10.13.6 combo update, you get macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Update can't be installed on this disk. This volume does not meet the requirements for this update.

And, yup—lo and behold! The FileVault encryption is still in progress. Once that's done, the 10.13.6 update should install just fine.

Integrating DetectX Swift with Munki

If you like DetectX Swift and want to integrate it with Munki, this is how I did it. Hat tip to Zack McCauley for doing the heavy lifting, which I'm now building on. I'd recommend you read his blog post first.

So instead of having an Outset script or separate Launch Agent, I decided to put the DetectX Swift scan as part of the Munki run (specifically a script in the preflight.d directory that MunkiReport creates):


# Run a DetectX Swift scan
/Applications/Utilities/DetectX\\ Swift search -aj /usr/local/munki/preflight.d/cache/detectx.json

Outside of MunkiReport (but connecting to the MunkiReport MySQL database), I have a script that generates a Python list of files that DetectX Swift has flagged as "issues":

$query="SELECT issues FROM detectx WHERE numberofissues > 0";
$result=mysqli_query($YOURDATABASECONNECTION, $query);
   // Create an array to store the results
      // Create an array based on a semi-colon delimiter
      $smaller_issues=explode(";", $row['issues']);
      foreach($smaller_issues AS $smaller_issue){
          if((trim($smaller_issue)!='') AND (!in_array($smaller_issue, $larger_issues))){
            array_push($larger_issues, $smaller_issue);

   // End fetching results

      echo '<p>okay_to_delete = [ ';
         echo '\'' . $larger_issues[$counter] . '\',<br />';   
      echo '\'' . $larger_issues[$counter] . '\' ]</p>';
   // End checking there are elements in larger issues (there should be)

// End checking there are any issues

And finally I have a nopkg to do the actual cleaning of the issues DetectX flagged.

So why even have an array of okay-to-delete things?

Well, DetectX Swift has command-line options to scan, but it (at least as of this writing) does not have the option to command-line remove things, presumably so someone has a chance to review the things removed before actually removing them. Also, since it's just forcefully removing things (yes, I know about using shutil to remove, but I've run into weird situations in which that doesn't work consistently, so I'm using a subprocess to invoke rm instead), it's probably a good idea for at least one human to review things before they get removed.

The nopkg also copies the .json to /var/log (with a datetime stamp in the name) before removing anything.

Use docklib to manage macOS docks

docklib instead of dockutil

I have a few posts about using dockutil to manage the macOS dock. dockutil is still a valid and working project, but I'm starting to migrate my scripts to docklib instead, which doesn't seem to require workarounds like this one.

Installing docklib

The installation instructions for docklib say you can put the file in the same directory as the scripts that invoke it or you can put it "in your Python path." I'd recommend just grabbing the docklib .pkg from the releases page or using the AutoPkg docklib recipes to download it. The .pkg puts in /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/

Using docklib with Outset

docklib can be used in an Outset login-once or login-every script. There is no need to explicitly put in a delay to wait for the initial dock to appear before running your script. There is also no need, if you're specifying a dock (rather than modifying an existing one) to remove the default applications Apple puts on the dock. If you're specifying a dock, just say what you want to add. Use this suggested template:

import os
from docklib import Dock
tech_dock = [
   '/Applications/Managed Software',
dock = Dock()
dock.items['persistent-apps'] = []
for item in tech_dock:
   if os.path.exists(item):
      item = dock.makeDockAppEntry(item)

Checking if an item exists before removing/adding via docklib?

Here's an example of checking for something's existence on the right side of the dock before adding it. To check on the left side, it's a very similar process, except you just replace


For example, this will add Microsoft Word only if it's not in the dock already:

from docklib import Dock
dock = Dock()
if dock.findExistingLabel('Microsoft Word', section='persistent-apps') == -1:
   item = dock.makeDockAppEntry('/Applications/Microsoft')

If you add an item using docklib that already exists in the dock, a second instance of it will be added to the dock, so you definitely should check for the existence of the item first.

However, if you want to remove an item, just use the standard removal procedure:

from docklib import Dock
dock = Dock()
dock.removeDockEntry('Microsoft Word')
If the item isn't in the dock when you try to remove it, docklib won't give any error or warning.

Upgrading to High Sierra: “You may not install this volume because the computer is missing a firmware partition”

If you try to upgrade to High Sierra (macOS 10.13) and get You may not install this volume because the computer is missing a firmware partition when trying to select your drive to upgrade, it may be because you're upgrading on an OWC drive.

If you're using Munki, the error may appear in your /Library/Managed Installs/Logs/Install.log as Starting macOS install: FAILED: startosinstall failed with return code 243.

Previously, you'd have to physically swap back the OEM drive, and then put the OWC drive back again, but now OWC has its own firmware updater tool that fixes the problem:
Aura SSDs: Firmware Update (beta).

Parental Controls keeps blocking allowed apps

If macOS Parental Controls keep blocking allowed apps (both allowed through the checklist in System Preferences and through manually approving via password), deleting the account and recreating it may not be enough to fix the glitch. Instead, try recreating an account with a new name.

I've found Santa to block things more reliably (or not to block things you've allowed). You can block by certificate or (for Apple applications you'd need to do this), block by binary.

CrashPlan 6.5 stuck on Connecting… and never times out

We had a couple of clients who would just never do an initial connection to CrashPlan after the upgrade from CrashPlan 4 to CrashPlan 6.5. But they would never time out or give an error message either.

Restarting the CrashPlan service didn't help. Restarting the computer didn't help. Uninstalling and reinstalling the client didn't help.

Turns out it if the detect-a-user script can't find a CP_USER_HOME, it will just keep trying to connect instead of erroring out. We modified our script, and now those clients are good (we did have to uninstall and reinstall the client after modifying the script, though).

P.S. Someone pointed out that I don't actually share the original or modified script. The point of this blog post isn't to say "Here's a script that works." There are lots of scripts that work. The point is more that if you're experiencing this issue ("connecting" and never timing out or providing an error message), you likely need to fix your script to output a CP_USER_HOME).

Getting the Team ID of kernel extensions in macOS 10.13 (and higher?)

Why do you need Team IDs?

Beginning with macOS 10.13 (High Sierra), Apple is now blocking kernel extensions unless you, in recovery mode (or recovery mode–like environment), change the policy on the machine itself or use an MDM profile to approve certain KEXTs by Team ID.

How do you find these Team IDs, though?


One way is to install the KEXTs on a 10.13 machine, user approve them, and then check the sqlite database to see what the Team IDs are:

sqlite3 /var/db/SystemPolicyConfiguration/KextPolicy
SELECT * FROM kext_policy;

Here's an example of some of the output you might see:

EQHXZ8M8AV||1|Google, Inc.|8
In this example, EQHXZ8M8AV is the Team ID and is the bundle ID.

You can use Control-D to exit the sqlite3 session.

Acknowledgements: Got commands from Enabling Kernel Extensions in High Sierra


Another way is to run this command on an existing bundle from the vendor:

codesign -dv --verbose=4 /PATH/TO/

For example, if you run

codesign -dv --verbose=4 /Applications/Google\ Drive\ File\
you should see in the output a line like

This approach can be helpful in fringe cases (you just need the Team ID and not the bundle ID, which may be the case, and the KEXT you're looking for has an associated bundle you can run codesign on.

Acknowledgements: Got command from MunkiReport-PHP extensions module

Isn't there a list somewhere of all these Team IDs?

There is a list, actually. There's a spreadsheet that a bunch of Mac admins are sharing with each other. Unfortunately, at this point, it's a spreadsheet that anyone with the link can edit, so I wouldn't really count on that. At this point, I don't see anything malicious in there (and I haven't verified every single Team ID, of course), but I would probably play it safe and just get the Team IDs yourself. Chances are that you'll have to do it only once or twice a year at the most.

Create a .mobileconfig profile for a certificate

If you want to create .mobileconfig profile from a certificate (for example, to import into Munki), you can use Apple Configurator 2 to do so.

If you have your certificate already in your keychain, launch up Keychain and find the certificate you want to make into a .mobileconfig profile.

Right-click the certificate and select Export NAMEOFTHECERTIFICATE (export it as a .cer).

Then launch up Apple Configuration

Select File and then New Profile

Select Certificates and then Configure.

Find and select the certificate you exported earlier.

Select File and then Save.

Pick a filename for your .mobileconfig, which you can deploy however you want (as I previously mentioned, you can import this into a Munki repo).