The growing number of Mac users have always been able to configure which apps to launch when they log in to their computer, but that has changed in macOS Ventura. Login items are now managed in a different place, and Apple has also allowed Mac administrators to manage them using MDM software.
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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 does System Preferences become System Settings, but they have been quietly moved to a new section found in the General category.
Logon items are typically applications that you have told your Mac to start automatically at logon, but they also include other processes such as startup agents or startup daemons that are required for certain applications to function properly on a consistent basis.
If you're an IT administrator running a Mac, you'll already know that the MDM service you're using will have startup agents installed to run on registered Macs. These are also found under Login Items.
What's changing in macOS Ventura?
The two main changes to this approach are:
- Migrating Users and Groups settings to General
- Make items that launch on login more visible
The latter means that software components, installation packages, and other items required by individual applications and required to start at startup are now visible.
Once installed, users will receive a notification notifying them that the installation has taken place and these items can also be disabled under Login Items. This is a big change, because until now these elements were often invisible to the end user.
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The Login Items section has also changed. It now offers two main categories: Open at login and Allow in background.
- The former will host any apps (like your browser) that you want your Mac to open automatically when you sign in.
- The latter will include all the back-end 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 want to. However, they cannot disable MDM system agents; only administrators can do this from the system console of their choice.
What about admins?
Mac admins can now remotely manage login and background items across their Mac fleets through the MDM software of their choice. This means they can insist that certain items run 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 critical as administrators try to protect Macs that are used beyond the standard security perimeter. Apple remains on its mission to make Macs more secure than ever.
Are there other changes?
These aren't the only changes Apple has made to System Settings (Ventura) over System Preferences (older versions of macOS). Not only have they been redesigned to reflect the settings of the iPad and iPhone, but they also have new sections for:
- game controllers
- Game Center
- Lock screen (which left Security and privacy)
- Desktop & Dock (formerly Desktop & Screensaver and Dock & Menubar)
- Screen Saver (once available in Desktop and Screen Saver)
- Wallpaper (also available once on Desktop and screen saver)
If you can't find a specific control because it has been moved, you can use the improved search feature to find it.
Additional improvements in macOS Ventura
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