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How to create Jamf manifests for custom configuration profiles.
September 29, 2023 by Laurie Mona

How to create Jamf manifests for custom configuration profiles

Learn how to create Jamf Pro manifests for custom configuration profiles that manage applications or Mac settings not included in Jamf Pro’s default set of payloads.

For IT admins looking to go beyond the basics of Jamf Pro, JNUC offers opportunities for deeper dives into advanced administration. If you appreciate coding for your own internal use as well as sharing with others, this session is for you.

In the JNUC session "How to Create Jamf Manifests for Custom Configuration Profiles," presenter Bill Smith, Senior Partner Program Manager, Jamf, gives a comprehensive overview of the process you can follow to customize your configuration profiles and elevate the Mobile Device Management (MDM) of your organization.

Custom configuration profiles enable admins to manage applications or Mac settings that aren’t already included in Jamf Pro’s default set of payloads.

You can manage preferences for macOS time zones, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Zoom and hundreds of other applications that support plist preferences.

Jamf manifests make creating these custom configuration profiles easier. They generate simple forms for a Jamf Pro admin to fill in the blank, choose true or false or select from a list of options.

More importantly, community members can share their Jamf manifests just as they would share shell scripts. That means other administrators can improve on the work from the community.

What are Jamf Pro manifests?

A manifest is nothing more than a list of items. Just like a property list is a list of properties, a manifest is also a list of properties. What makes it different from a plist is that it includes potential values of each property.

Values could be Booleans like true or false, on or off, or yes or no. Value could be numbers, strings of characters, or lists of things.

To find out what settings are already in use in Jamf Pro, navigate to computer configuration profiles, select a profile, and click Edit.

In the middle, you’ll find what’s called ‘payloads,’ which are nothing more than a point-and-click way to choose some settings and add them to a configuration profile.

Image of a Microsoft Update configuration profile screen in Jamf Pro.

But the problem with payloads is they're limited to just what macOS can do. And they still don't cover everything we can manage in macOS. There is also nothing really built-in for third-party applications like Microsoft Office or AutoUpdate.

This is where manifests come in.

What does a simple manifest look like?

Smith notes that manifests are:

  • Plain text files
  • Written in JSON
  • Written in a structure called JSON Schema

Here’s what the JSON looks like for a very basic manifest:

Smith explains what each part of the coding references and how to follow JSON Schema. He then demonstrates how to input it into Jamf Pro and apply it as a manifest to build a form.

Diving deeper: building manifests

Smith walks through how to add properties to a manifest, validate values and add useful information.

Smith also shares examples of the manifests shown in his demonstration as a single manifest on Jamf’s developer website.

Check out the full session for the details of how you can create your own manifests to customize Jamf Pro configuration profiles, including helpful tips, tools and resources to explore.

Register for JNUC to access this session as well as others on demand.

Photo of Laurie Mona
Laurie Mona
Laurie Mona, Copywriter.
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