Jamf Blog
December 11, 2020 by Evan O'Malley

macOS Big Sur: What’s new in app management

As of macOS 11 Big Sur, the app management experience on Mac is now noticeably more similar to iOS app management. What’s new for Mac?

When Apple announces a new operating system (OS), the IT world is often abuzz with discussion of the new features, and the announcement of macOS Big Sur was no exception. One big change includes how we treat Mac app management.

In the past, we didn’t have the concept of an “in-house app” for macOS because for years, macOS didn’t have the need for an app store. App management in previous macOS versions is a far cry from the experience in iOS. For instance, an app could be installed via mobile device management (MDM) in macOS, however there was no mechanism for marking that app as managed nor for uninstalling it. For years, managed apps have been a key capability of MDM on iOS devices, and now it’s coming to Mac. As of macOS 11 Big Sur, the app management experience on Mac is now noticeably more similar to iOS app management. What’s new for Mac?

  • Apps can be removed by MDM commands: For Mac devices running macOS Big Sur, IT will be able to remotely delete apps using MDM commands. This will also remove the data associated with those apps.
  • Apps can be automatically removed upon enrollment or unenrollment: By automating the removal of managed apps, IT saves time, but also cuts down on security concerns.
  • iOS-style managed app configuration and feedback are supported: Though custom configuration profiles aren’t necessarily new, managed apps offer a more tightly coupled configuration within your MDM platform.
  • Device enrollments can convert an unmanaged app to managed: Using MDM, IT teams can now convert some unmanaged apps to managed. Please note, however, that this feature is not supported by user enrollments.
  • Updating apps is much easier: Arm your team with the latest versions, without having to manually keep track. Now admins can choose to have an app update whenever there is an update available, if they installed the app via the App Store.

In order to make full use of these new app management features, there are a couple of requirements. To start, the package deploying the application can only install a single app bundle into the applications directory (/Applications) and can be removed if it remains in this directory. For example, because apps purchased via App Store from within Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager are installed in this directory by default, they’re perfect options for being managed apps.

App management is only one highlight on the huge list of new features available with the arrival of macOS 11 Big Sur. For a more detailed explanation of some of these features, check out our video, “Deploying macOS Big Sur” to get the information and resources you need when making the switch to Apple’s newest OS.

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Evan O'Malley
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