I’ve been tracking and cataloging all the different components of System Settings for a while now, and now that the latest version of macOS is out in the wild, I wanted to dive into macOS Sonoma and see if anything new was worth noting in System Settings.
System Settings remains nearly exactly the same as it was in macOS Ventura as far as high-level sidebar categories go, but if you dig deeper you will find a few new sub-menu items that you can open with a shell script. Let’s take a deeper look at what’s new.
macOS settings have changed drastically in macOS Ventura, bringing with it a new name (System Settings) as well as a unified visual interface that has been a bit divisive among the apple community. A recent post from Rich Trouton reminded me to take a look at System Settings now that macOS Ventura has been released, and create a revised list that reflects the changes that were made in the latest operating system.
You can find the complete compiled list of macOS Ventura’s System Settings here.
A few observations regarding the new System Settings:
Apple seems to be using a new “extension” schema for items in System Settings as referenced by the new .extension naming you see in the screenshot below. However, some of the bulkier sections of the app have maintained their previous .preference schema, particularly Privacy (open "x-apple.systempreferences:com.apple.preference.security?Privacy) and Accessibility
Even though the new app is called System Settings, the URL scheme still retains it’s systempreferences designation of x-apple.systempreferences
Apple is still mixing .preference and .preferences in their URL schemes, although most of that comes from legacy stuff that is still compatible.
All sections of System Settings support URLScheme now! In Monterey, it was a mixed bag and depended on if an individual pane supported URLSchemes or not.
It’s time for an adventure in macOS screen recording approval! This is a journey I’ve been on for many years (since early 2020) and the result is the script presented here that I have tweaked and refined over that time period.
Many Mac admins are well aware that as of macOS Catalina, Apple has required explicit end-user input to approve an application’s access to a Mac computer’s screen. This has created a bit of a pain point for admins who want to ensure that screen recording (for remote support apps for example) gets approved BEFORE they need it.
The inability to preapprove screen recording can also result in a frustrating experience for the end-user. Imagine a new employee on their first day, trying to join the Zoom meant for onboarding new employees, only to discover that Zoom requires them to grant access to Screen Recording if they want to share their screen to get assistance from the onboarding team. Now they have to exit the meeting, navigate to the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences, go to the Privacy tab and locate the appropriate section where they need to grant approval. This can be a lot to ask of some users, particularly those users who are not super savvy or comfortable with the macOS operating system. (This was another one of the reasons for writing this script).
Because of this, most admins will walk a new employee through the process of approving app access to screen recording on their first day or include it as part of their new employee computer setup documentation. However, as an admin, the more you have to explain and walk someone through a process, the farther you get away from a true “zero touch” deployment.
It was with this in mind that I created a script that would help guide the end-user directly to the System Preferences pane1 they need and prompt them with appropriate instructions. It includes built-in persistence and will repeat that prompt until the app becomes approved and then automatically close System Preferences if the user has left the window open. This script is best paired with a PPPC Profile that sets that bundleid of the application to “Allow Standard User to Approve.” That way, the checkbox can be clicked without requiring the user to unlock the System Preference Pane first, thus removing a step for the end user.
Here’s what it looks like:
“Wow, sounds great! Where can I get it?”
– Mac Admins
I’m glad you’re excited! The script can be found here.
This script runs on macOS 10.15 or higher. macOS 11 or higher is required for standard user approval (that MDM command was made available in Big Sur.)
The script works best when the app being targeted is being deployed with a Privacy Profile library item that lets standard users approve Screen Capture. (Available in macOS Big Sur 11+).
The MDM agent running this script needs Full Disk Access in order to read the tcc.db and confirm screen recording has been approved. Most MDM agents have this access by default (check the MDM Profile installed on the machine in System Preferences > Profiles), but if your specific MDM does not, you’ll want to grant it access with a PPPC Profile.
It’s time for an adventure in identifying macOS System Preferences Panes!
In my previous post I talked about the different ways that admins can deep-link to specific System Preference Panes, but how do you identify those panes and how do you even know if the pane itself supports url scheme linking?
Note: This post is relevant to macOS Monterey and earlier. If you're looking for more information on macOS Ventura's System Settings, check out that blog post here.
Identifying Pane Name & Anchors
How did I discover the url schemes for those panes and how can you do it as well?I’m glad you asked!
You can find the pane and associated deeplink anchors with just a little bit of applescript.
Paste the code below into Script Editor.app (located in /Applications/Utilities)
Open System Preferences to the exact pane that you want to identify, and run the script.
It will output the name of the current pane and any associated anchors.
-- Open System Preferences.app and click into desired pane/setting. Then, run this script to find out name (Pane ID) and any anchors.
tell application "System Preferences"
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to ", "
set CurrentPane to the id of the current pane
get the name of every anchor of pane id CurrentPane
set CurrentAnchors to get the name of every anchor of pane id CurrentPane
set the clipboard to CurrentPane
display dialog "Current Pane ID: " & CurrentPane & return & return & "Pane ID has been copied to the clipboard." & return & return & "Current Anchors: " & return & (CurrentAnchors as string)
You’ll get an output like this and the pane id will be copied to your clipboard:
Now unfortunately, sometimes this doesn’t capture ALL anchors that you can deeplink to (really I’ve only found it problematic with the Security & Privacy pane).
If you find some anchors/sections missing, you may want to dig into the preference pane itself and see if there’s any bits of code that reference available options. For example, the script above when run against the Security & Privacy Pane doesn’t return any options for the Input Monitoring section. However, I can open /System/Library/PreferencePanes/Security.prefPane/Contents/Resources/PrivacyTCCServices.plistand see the key value I’m looking for (and what that section is actually called) is ListenEvent.
Identifying if the pane supports URLScheme.
Not all Preference Panes support URLScheme. For those that don’t, you can accomplish the same action of opening the pane with Applescript in most instances. But how do you know if a specific pane supports a URLScheme? Let’s explore.
Most of the preference panes themselves are located within /System/Library/PreferencePanes/.
Here’s how to find if the pane supports url schemes:
Open Finder and Go To /System/Library/PreferencePanes
Right click on the pane you want to inspect choose Inspect Package Contents
Open the Contents > Info.plist. If it supports url scheme you’ll see a NSPrefPaneAllowsXAppleSystemPreferencesURLScheme=1
If the pane DOES support a url scheme, then you can use the open command + URLschemes listed here. If it does not, and you still want to open the pane via script, you could do so using Applescript.
Join me on an adventure in discovering how to use scripts to open nearly every single aspect of the macOS System Preferences Pane!
Mac admins and developers may at some point in their careers find themselves needing to script the opening of macOS System Preferences panes, either for automation or other tasks like presenting a specific pane to a user to click or configure.
The URL Scheme introduced in 10.10 (and refined/restricted in 10.11) makes it easy to not only open specific System Preference Panes, but to deep link to specific sections of those panes with precision. Apple seems to be adding new urls and anchors to System Preferences with each macOS release, so this will continue to be a useful tool to have in your macadmin tool belt.
So how can you automatically open specific System Preferences panes in your scripts? I’m glad you asked! Let’s dive in…