macOS & iOS IT Tool List

This list is based on questions that I have been asked by various IT admins.

It is more of a collection of tools (mainly software, but a few hardware tools too) that Enterprise IT Teams might find useful while supporting/managing Macs & iPhones in the enterprise. Some of the tools are free, while others are paid. Also, it is not necessary that all the tools will be required. Of course, some tools are not meant for troubleshooting but provide a service themselves.

The below list is not an endorsement or recommendation of any of the products mentioned. These are just some of the products I have come across. You may have to do your own research to see which tool fits your organisation’s needs. The author is not responsible for any damages or loss of data that might occur from usage of these tools.

*This list is not a complete list but an ongoing project. Feel free to share your comments on tools that you may have used & I will add them to this list.

DEPLOYMENT

DeployStudio

Munki

macOS Server – NetInstall Service. To be used along with System image Utility

PACKAGE MANAGEMENT

Iceberg

pkgbuild

REMOTE MANAGEMENT

RealVNC

TeamViewer

Apple Remote Desktop

LogMeIn

BACKUPS

macOS Server – Time Machine Service

Retrospect

Carbon Copy Cloner

Chronosync

Crash Plan

DEVICE MANAGEMENT

Centrify

JAMF Casper Suite

AirWatch

Mobile Iron

macOS Server – Profile Manager Service

Apple Configurator 2

Heat LANRev

Cisco Meraki

filewave

Absolute Software

BoxTone

Maas 360 – IBM

Tangoe

Lightspeed Systems

VIRTUALIZATION

Parallels Desktop

VMWare Fusion

Oracle VirtualBox

DISK MANAGEMENT

Tuxera

Disk Drill

APPLE APPLICATIONS FOR THIRD PARTY OS

iTunes

iCloud Control Panel

Move to iOS from Android

Migration Assistant

AUTOMATION

Workflow for iOS

Automator – Built in app for creating Workflows.

AppleScript

Command Line Script

NETWORK TROUBLESHOOTING

iNetTools

Network Diagnostics

Network Ping

Wireshark

DISPLAY

Air Squirrel

SYSTEM TROUBLESHOOTING

Install Disk – I will be talking about how to create a multi-OS install disk in a later article.

SOFTWARE MANAGEMENT

macOS Server – Caching Service

Reposado

AutoPKG

Munki

HARDWARE

Thunderbolt 1,2,3 Cables
Thunderbolt 1,2
USB-C Cable

FireWire 400/800 Cables

Portable disk with macOS installed on it. Not the same as install disk. Its an external bootable hard drive with the OS installed on it. You can plug this into any Mac & boot from the external HDD.

VGA to MiniDisplay adapter

HDMI to HDMI Cable

Thunderbolt Ethernet Bridge

USB Ethernet Bridge

Adapters for the different ports supported by Macs & iPhones

Lightning Cables

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Creating multi-OS Install Disk

In this article we are going to look at how to create a multi-OS Install Disk. We are going to look at the example of creating a multi-OS Install Disk for the following versions of the OS:

  • 10.9.1
  • 10.10
  • 10.10.4
  • 10.11.5
  • 10.12
  • 10.12.1
  • 10.12.2
  • 10.12.3

The idea is to have a single disk with multiple versions of the Install Disk on it. The versions should reflect the need of the organisation.

REQUIREMENTS

  1. USB Drive at least 75GB in Size. This depends on the number of Install drives you wish to have. At the very least there should be enough space to create 2 partitions of 8 GB each. 
    While I have mentioned USB drive, it need not be restricted to that interface. You can use Thunderbolt, FireWire or even an SDXC slot for this. Ideally the port should be one that is supported on maximum possible computers.
  2. Install setup for each version of the OS for which you want to create the install disk. The setup must match the version desired.
  3. A Mac running the same major version of the OS. You can only create an install disk for 10.9.x on a Mac running OS X 10.9.x, the same applies for the other versions of the OS.

The process is the same. It’s just that it needs to be repeated.

STEPS

  1. Create 8 partitions on a USB Drive. Assume that the USB Drive is called Recovery Drive. Give the partitions names Partition 1, Partition 2,….
  2. Connect the USB Drive to a Mac running 10.9.1 or later.
  3. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  4. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 1 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app
  5. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.9.1, if necessary.
  6. Once completed eject the USB Drive & connect it to a Mac running 10.10
  7. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  8. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 2 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app
  9. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.10, if necessary.
  10. Once completed eject the USB Drive & connect it to a Mac running 10.10.4
  11. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  12. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 3 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app
  13. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.10.4, if necessary.
  14. Once completed eject the USB Drive & connect it to a Mac running 10.11.5 or later.
  15. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  16. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 4 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app
  17. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.11.5, if necessary.
  18. Once completed eject the USB Drive & connect it to a Mac running 10.12 or later.
  19. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  20. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 5 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app
  21. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.12., if necessary.
  22. Once completed eject the USB Drive & connect it to a Mac running 10.12.1 or later.
  23. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  24. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 6 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app
  25. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.12.1., if necessary.
  26. Once completed eject the USB Drive & connect it to a Mac running 10.12.2 or later.
  27. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  28. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 7 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app
  29. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.12.2, if necessary.
  30. Once completed eject the USB Drive & connect it to a Mac running 10.12.3 or later.
  31. Make sure that the OS Installer setup is located in the Applications folder.
  32. Run the following command in the command line.
    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ 8 --applicationpath  /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app
  33. Rename the partition as Install disk for OS X 10.12.3, if necessary.

The commands shown above might be different from what appears on your screen. A lot will depend on what you have named your partitions as, the name you may have given to the OS Installer file, and the location of the OS Installer.

The process of renaming the partitions post creation of the install disk is not necessary, but very useful because that will help you identify the appropriate partition when using the drive.

The above process is very scalable & can be done for even more versions of the OS if required.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 11.11.39 AM
This diagram illustrates the layout of the different partitions on a single USB Drive.

COLLECTION TYPE, SEQUENCE TYPE & INDEXABLE TYPE – Update

This is an update to the topic covered earlier. You can read about the Protocols in detail in the original article. Collection Type, Sequence Type & Indexable Type

Most of the things are the same here are some of the changes:

  1. The Indexable protocol is now not necessarily required. All the aspects of the indexable protocol now fall under the Collection Protocol
  2. The names of the protocols have changed from SequenceType & CollectionType to Sequence & Collection
  3. The keyword Generator has been renamed to Iterator. Accordingly the generate function has been renamed makeIterator function.
  4. The collection protocol now requires the implementation of the function index, this function returns the value of the next index.

The sample code below should clarify

class CustomStack
{
    var data : [Element] = [Element]()

    func push(Element newElement : Element)
    {
        data.append(newElement)
    }

    func pop() -> Element
    {
        return data.removeLast()
    }
}

//Additional Implementations - not strictly required
extension CustomStack
{
    typealias Index = Int

    var startIndex : Index
    {
        return 0
    }

    var endIndex: Index
    {
        return (data.count - 1)
    }

    subscript (position : Index) -> Element
    {
        return data[position]
    }
}

extension CustomStack : Sequence
{
    typealias Iterator = AnyIterator

    func makeIterator() -> Iterator
    {
        var index = 0
        return AnyIterator({() -> Element? in
            if index < self.data.count
            {
                let res =  self.data[index]
                index += 1
                return res
            }
            return nil
        })
    }
}

extension CustomStack : Collection
{
    typealias SubSequence = CustomStack

    subscript (bounds: Range) -> CustomStack.SubSequence
    {
        let newStack : CustomStack = CustomStack()

        for i in bounds.lowerBound...bounds.upperBound
        {
            newStack.push(Element: data[i])
        }
        return newStack
    }

    /// Returns the position immediately after the given index.
    /// - Parameter i: A valid index of the collection. `i` must be less than
    ///   `endIndex`.
    /// - Returns: The index value immediately after `i`.
    func index(after i: Int) -> Int
    {
        if i < endIndex
        {
            return i + 1
        }
        return i
    }
}

Collection Type, Sequence Type & Indexable Type

This is for Swift Version 2.2 & earlier. I will be adding the snippet of code for the changes the Swift 3.x have introduced.

What are the Collection Type & Sequence Type Protocols?

The Collection Type, Sequence Type & Generator Type Protocols define rules that govern how different data structures or collections of data can be used, interacted with and operated within the Swift programming language. The CollectionType is a special case of the SequenceType.

Why do we need such Protocols?

Lets take the example of the Swift For-Loop.

var arrOfStrings : [String] = [String]()

arrOfStrings.append("Jill")
arrOfStrings.append("Jack")
arrOfStrings.append("John")
arrOfStrings.append("Jane")

for name in arrOfString
{
     print("The name is \(name)")
}

Now, if we have created our own data type. We would not be able to use the above for-loop as it would not conform to the … type protocols. The for-loop is expecting a data structure that acts and behaves in a way that is governed by the … protocols.

Just like the for-loop example above there are many other features within the Swift Programming Language that expect data structures to act and behave in a particular way. By designing our data structures to conform to these protocols we can make the easily compatible with the existing code and language features out there.

How do we use these protocols for our own data structures?

First we need to decide what kind of collection are we making. For the sake of this example I will create a Custom Stack.

class CustomStack<Element>
{
    var data : [Element] = [Element]()

    func push(Element newElement : Element)
    {
        data.append(newElement)
    }

    func pop() -> Element
    {
        return data.removeLast()
    }
}

The above code is very simple for the purpose of this exercise. Its a stack. Which is internally really an Array. It has functions to push data and pop data. We are now going to convert this type to a collection to conform to the CollectionType protocol.

Implementing the Indexable Protocol methods

As a first step we are going to make our CustomStack conform to the Indexable Protocol.

extension CustomStack : Indexable
{
    //INDEXABLE PROTOCOLS
    typealias Index = Int

    var startIndex : Int
    {
        return 0
    }

    var endIndex: Int
    {
        return (data.count - 1)
    }

    subscript (position : Int) -> Element
    {
        return data[position]
    }
}

The above change makes the data structure conform to the Indexable protocol. This is a requirement for it to be of type CollectionType. In order to conform to the Indexable protocol we need to implement a few computed properties. Let us look at the changes

typealias Index = Int

This line informs the system that the Indexing type for my data structure is an Int.

var startIndex : Int
{
    return 0
}

var endIndex: Int
{
    return (data.count - 1)
}

The next 2 are computed properties. Each provides the implementation of the startIndex  and endIndex properties. Note that the type for both is Int as we have declared the Index type earlier as Int.

subscript (position : Int) -> Element
{
    return data[position]
}

The last implementation is of subscript. This provides the implementation to access an Element from the Stack using the Subscript operator.

Implementing the Sequence Type Protocol

Next we will implement the Sequence Type Protocol methods.

extension CustomStack : SequenceType
{
    typealias Generator = AnyGenerator<Element>
    
    func generate() -> Generator
    {
        var index = 0
        
        return AnyGenerator(body: {() -> Element? in
            if index < self.data.count
            {
                let res =  self.data[index]
                index += 1
                return res
            }
            return nil
        })
    }
}

Let us examine this code line by line.

typealias Generator = AnyGenerator<Element>

Objects of type Generator allow us to navigate through our collection. Quite like how iterators  work in C++. This line specifies the type to be AnyGenerator for Elements.

func generate() -> Generator

Next we start the implementation of the generate function. This is required as part of the SequenceType protocol.

var index = 0

This index variable is used to track the element that is currently being accessed.

return AnyGenerator(body: {() -> Element? in
            if index < self.data.count
            {
                let res =  self.data[index]
                index += 1
                return res
            }
            return nil
        })

The return statement is the main statement. Here we are creating an object of type AnyGenerator. As an argument to the constructor call we are passing in a closure that will be used to iterate through the sequence. Note that the closure captures the index variable and holds a reference to its value even though we have left the original function.

Implementing the Collection Type Protocol

Next we will implement the Collection Type Protocol methods. We don’t really need to implement a lot in order to conform to the CollectionType protocol. In fact, if we just conform to the CollectionType protocol and use the implementations of the previous 2 extensions we should be just fine. However, for the sake of demonstration we are implementing the subscript functionality within the CollectionType.

extension CustomStack : CollectionType
{
    typealias SubSequence = CustomStack<Element>
    
    subscript (bounds: Range<CustomStack.Index>) -> CustomStack.SubSequence
    {
        let newStack : CustomStack<Element> = CustomStack<Element>()
        
        for i in bounds.startIndex...bounds.endIndex
        {
            newStack.push(Element: data[i])
        }
        return newStack
    }
}

Let us look at the code line by line.

typealias SubSequence = CustomStack<Element>

Again, as before this line indicates that the SubSequence type is actually a CustomStack.

subscript (bounds: Range<CustomStack.Index>) -> CustomStack.SubSequence

Here we start the implementation of the subscript functionality.

let newStack : CustomStack<Element> = CustomStack<Element>()
        
for i in bounds.startIndex...bounds.endIndex
{
     newStack.push(Element: data[i])
}
return newStack

The rest of the code is the implementation of the subscript range behaviour. One can have different implementations to achieve the same result.

CollectionType Video

Conclusion

As we can see, by designing our data structure to conform to a particular set of protocols. We have made it possible for our data structure to take advantages of the different features, functionalities and even API’s available within the Swift Language and the Frameworks used as a part of iOS, macOS, watchOS & tvOS development.

What to do before buying/selling Apple devices?

Apple’s devices are getting more and more popular by the day. People are really excited to get hold of the newest product that comes out of its stable. This guide walks you through some of the things you need to keep in mind while buying used devices or selling your existing device. This may not apply when buying a new product from the store for the first time, however, its still good to know these things & run your device through a checklist.

Note the checklist provided below is by no means comprehensive nor is it complete. There might be other things to keep in mind before buying &/or selling used devices, depending on the geographic area, situation, and circumstances.

Buying

Before buying a used products run them through this checklist. Some items are device specific.

  • Make sure there is no physical damage to the device. Dents, scratches, cracks, missing screws.
  • Start the device & make sure it loads up as expected.
  • Check the different user interface elements: touch screen, 3d touch, keyboard, iSight camera, speakers, home button, Microphone
  • Check the different ports: USB, Ethernet, FireWire, Thunderbolt, USB-C, HDMI, Audio-out, SD card reader, lightning connector, 30-pin connector
  • Check the power cord, adapter & charging port
  • Note the version of the OS. Eg: OS X 10.10.3
  • Note the build number
  • Check the model number. This is important for Software Upgrades/Hardware upgrades. Older hardware may have an upper limit on the hardware expansion capability &/or the ability to run latest software optimally.
  • Check the Support Coverage for your device. This is important, especially if you have to take your device in for repairs.
    https://checkcoverage.apple.com/in/en/
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204308 – Find your devices Serial Number
  • Note down the serial number
  • Make sure that the device does not contain any personal data belonging to the seller. While it is the sellers responsibility to ensure this, it still is a good idea to verify that there are no accounts are signed into. This is VERY IMPORTANT for iOS Devices due to its implications on Activation Lock.
    Activation lock is used to prevent anyone from using a stolen device: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201365
  • Before buying please check the Activation lock status: https://www.icloud.com/activationlock/
  • Make sure there is no personal digital content in the form of Apps/Song/Movies or documents.
  • For Mac, make sure that there is no Firmware Password that is set.

Selling

The list above should give you a good idea on what you need to do while planning to sell your Apple device.

  • Delete all personal data. Make sure you have a backup of the same.
  • Remove any applications you may have installed.
  • Sign out of all accounts: Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, iCloud, Apple ID…
  • Delete any user accounts you may have created. Leave a single admin account.
  • If you have used any Encryption service then make sure you turn off encryption before selling the device. This is more of a precaution to prevent issues that may arise in the future.
  • This article illustrates what to do if you are selling giving away iOS Devices: https://support.apple.com/en-in/HT201351
  • As a good measure, delink your Apple ID from your device. You can do this by:
    • Go to http://www.icloud.com
    • Sign in with your Apple ID
    • Click on Settings
    • Select the device you want to give away: IMG_2941
    • Click on the cross to remove it from your Apple IDIMG_2978
  • De-register from iMessage.
  • Remove any custom settings, passwords (Firmware Password) that may compromise your security or prevent the user from fully using the device.
  • As a good measure completely erase the hard drive of your device.
  • Document items such as OS Version, Serial Number for your own reference.

Enterprises may take additional steps

  • To ensure data security, Enterprises may perform Secure Erase or drive replacement to prevent recovery of corporate information, when assigning devices to employees or selling them out in the market.
  • Enterprises should also protect against Activation lock. When collecting iOS Devices, assigned to an employee who is leaving the organisation, always check to make sure that the device is not locked to the employees Apple ID.

These are some of the things that you can do to make the transaction easy on both the sides.

 

OS X and iOS troubleshooters toolkit

This article covers some of the things troubleshooters would need during their everyday work. I’ve also listed links to some products and applications as an example. It is by no means an endorsement of the same.

OS X Install Disk: This is probably one of the most important tool that a troubleshooter must carry around with him/her. Ideally it would be one disk with multiple versions, each corresponding to a specific version of the OS. Exactly how many versions depends on the situation, for example one can have all instances of the present and previous 2 versions of the OS (For example OS X Mavericks 10.9, 10.9.1, 10.9.2, 10.9.3, 10.9.4, 10.9.5 OS X Yosemite 10.10, 10.10.1, 10.10.2, 10.10.3, 10.10.4, 10.10.5 OS X El Capitan 10.11, 10.11.1)

Thunderbolt & FireWire Cables: These come in handy when it comes to transferring data. These cables  are necessary when you wish to  perform target disk mode troubleshooting. Make sure you have the correct version of the cable.

http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MD862LL/A/apple-thunderbolt-cable-05-m

Portable Storage Device: Along with the cables mentioned earlier having a portable storage device with a large capacity is useful. Mainly when it comes to taking a back up. The user may or may not have a storage device available for this. (Ideally, taking a backup of the data should be done by the user on his/her own storage device.)

http://www.lacie.com/as/en/products/mobile-storage/rugged-thunderbolt/

http://www.apple.com/shop/product/HE154VC/A/promise-pegasus2-r8-24tb-8-by-3tb-thunderbolt-2-raid-system

http://www.promise.com/Products/Pegasus

Internet access via USB Dongle: Yet another important tool. Application & OS upgrades require internet access. This will also come in handy when you are trying to perform network troubleshooting. Make sure there is sufficient data available for upload/download. Optionally one can carry multiple Internet dongles from different vendors.

Portable Power Bank: This is more useful for portable devices. Carry one with a large capacity, enough for multiple recharges or charging multiple devices.

Display adapters: Necessary to troubleshoot when the main display isn’t working or to heck the display ports. Carry all combinations HDMI to VGA, MiniDisplay to VGA, MiniDisplay to HDMI, HDMI to HDMI and any others depending on the device to be connected to.

http://www.apple.com/shop/product/H9139VC/B/kanex-atv-pro-x-hdmi-to-vga-adapter-with-audio-support

http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MB572Z/B/mini-displayport-to-vga-adapter

Secondary Display: This might not be practical as displays tend to be very large and not necessarily portable. However, one can carry a small pocket projector. A secondary display is always handy as it reduces dependency on the user/client to provide one.

Power adapters: Not strictly required but can come in handy. Useful for checking if the user’s power cord is functioning properly. Make sure you carry all the different versions of the power cords.

Lightning & 30 pin cables: Again not strictly necessary but would be useful for checking if the user’s power cord is functioning properly. Make sure you carry all the different versions of the power cords.

MacBook Pro &/or iPad: Carrying your own Mac & iPhone/iPad is very important. Load these devices with various tools required to diagnose and/or fix issues.

https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/inettools-network-diagnose/id561659975?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inet-network-scanner/id340793353?mt=8

Disk Drill: http://data-recovery-software-review.toptenreviews.com/mac-recovery-software/mobile/disk-drill-pro-review.html

Airport Utility: https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1664

Airport Utility: AirPort Utility by Apple

https://appsto.re/in/YJ7Dz.i