Sunday, November 16, 2014

Change Default Dock Items

When users login to a new version of MacOS for the first time, it will fill their Dock with new icons that Apple has chosen. This might not always meet the needs of your business, school, or organization. For example, if you have your users' home directories on a file server, you might not want to encourage your users to use iMovie, GarageBand, iTunes, and iPhoto due to their tendency to use large amounts of disk space. If you use Google Apps for Work or Google Apps for Education, you might not want to present Mail, Maps, or Calendar. Each institution must make their own decision about what is best for them.

At my job, we use home directories on a file server with anywhere from 35 to 100 users on it at the same time. As you can imagine, this means a classroom of 25 students using iMovie could cause the entire school to experience serious slow-downs. We also use Google Apps for Education, so I don't want to encourage users to utilize Apple's Mail program. That would mean several GB more disk space used per user over hundreds of users. In other words, my servers would unnecessarily have about an extra 1TB (or more) disk space used, my backup system would get filled up, and everyone's Macs would be much, much slower.

To solve this, I give my end users an empty Dock. They're shown how to use Google Apps for Education and how to add items to the Dock. Then when they think "I want to see my email," they go to Gmail instead of the Mail program.

To do this, I wrote the following script and put it in our Deploy Studio server. It runs just after the Mac is imaged with its OS.

(Note: This is for MacOS 10.9. For MacOS 10.7, remove the # from the beginning of the appropriate line and add it to the beginning of the line for 10.9.)

# This script will attempt to avoid adding all of Apple's default items from the
# Dock for new users.  This default behavior of MacOS is very useful for home
# users but terrible for institutional deployments, where the needs of Apple
# and the needs of the institution which purchased Macs might not be aligned.
# 2014-04-03-1615, Jaime Kikpole

DEFAULTS="/System/Library/CoreServices/" # For 10.9
# DEFAULTS="/System/Library/CoreServices/" # For 10.7

FIXUP="/Library/Preferences/" # For 10.7

echo Changing default settings for the Dock for new users...

if [ -w ${DEFAULTSFILE} ]; then
 echo - Changing settings in "${DEFAULTS}"...
 defaults write ${DEFAULTS} persistent-apps ""
 defaults write ${DEFAULTS} persistent-others ""
 chmod +r ${DEFAULTS}
 echo ...done.
 echo "${DEFAULTSFILE}" not found or writable.

if [ -w ${FIXUPFILE} ]; then
 echo - Changing settings in "${FIXUP}"...
 defaults write /Library/Preferences/ add-app ""
 chmod +r ${FIXUP}
 echo ...done.
 echo "${FIXUPFILE}" not found or writable.

echo End of script.

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