Best Practices for MacOS Accounts

There are different types of accounts and services that are a part of the authentication and authorization process on a Mac. Each of these accounts and services originate from the way that macOS works with local user account management. Leverage these best practices for account management on macOS with JumpCloud. Learn how to create an account for macOS, take over existing accounts, and more. 

Terminology, Definitions, and Services

Term Definition & Service
Login Password (or User Password)
  1. This is the primary credential that is linked with your keychain  and FileVault (if enabled).
  2. This password is used to log into your local user account in macOS. 
Bootstrap Token
  1. Bootstrap Tokens grant a secure token to mobile or MDM administrator accounts.

  2. These won't be created automatically if the first user created is a standard user during MDM enrollment, or if local account creation is skipped entirely.

  3. Only available after MDM enrollment (JumpCloud MDM currently doesn't use this feature).

  1. Keychains are linked to the user when the user is created.
  2. Shares password with user account.
  3. Keychain password is only available to the user, and not the administrator.
  4. If the keychain password is lost, the user loses access to that keychain, and a new keychain is created.
  5. Keychain passwords can become out of sync two different ways:
    • User login password change outside the Mac. For example, an Active Directory (AD) password change done in AD outside of macOS.
    • User login password reset executed by an administrator on device. 
FileVault (FV)
  1. FileVault is the service that encrypts disks in macOS using an encryption key.
  2. Shares password with the administrator account that enabled it.
  3. This key can become out of sync if the following occurs:
    • A password change via script.
    • AD password change outside the Mac.
  4. You can avoid FV lockouts in the following ways:
    • Having a second administrator on the Mac with a secure token.
    • If the password is changed, store the old password somewhere safe, it can be used to decrypt FV.
  5. Warning: Do not reboot!
    • If you have rebooted, you will need another account with a secure token to unlock FV.
    • If you don't have the passwords, or a valid account and password to decrypt the FV volume, you have to use the Recovery Key. 

Creating a Mac Account for the First Time

To set up your macOS account for the first time:

  1. Verify that the SleepRestart and Shutdown buttons are visible on the Login screen. 
  2. The User Account you created during the macOS initial setup is presented to you for login. 
  3. At this point, FileVault is not enabled, so there won’t be a login screen for FileVault at this time.

When the first macOS user is created on a new device, the initial account is given the UniqueID of 501. This can be verified by looking at the Directory Utility by going to macOS > Directory Editor > Viewing: Users

In the latest versions of macOS Big Sur and above, you can verify that the initial user setup on a Mac device is provided with a Secure Token:

Installing the JumpCloud Agent

To install the JumpCloud agent

  1. Install the JumpCloud Agent for macOS.
  2. When the macOS JumpCloud Agent has been installed, you can verify the agent’s service account within Directory Utility. During the macOS JumpCloud Agent installation, the service account user _jumpcloudserviceaccount, will also be granted a Secure Token.

Creating New Accounts on Mac

After you create a new account, you can provision accounts from JumpCloud. New accounts can be made for users that already exist and are active within JumpCloud.To create a new user account on macOS for an active JumpCloud user:

  1. Bind the user to a device by going to the user’s Details panel and clicking Devices
  2. Allow up to a few minutes for the synchronization to take place. 
  3. Advise your user to log in using their JumpCloud credentials. 
  4. The user is prompted to go through macOS’s one-time Setup Assistant menu before accessing their macOS desktop since this a brand new user from the macOS’s device’s perspective. 
  5. The user will then be presented their macOS desktop and can begin working and using their new Mac device. 

Note: User's UniqueID numbers will increase incrementally by one when provisioning new users to macOS. For example, the firstaccount user is given 501. If we were going to provision a new user, i.e. secondaccount,  from JumpCloud to this Mac device, the new user, secondaccount, would be assigned the UID 502. 

Taking Over an Existing Account

To take over an existing account with JumpCloud, see Take Over an Existing User Account with JumpCloud.

Note: Ensure that only UNIX or POSIX characters are used within usernames in both macOS and JumpCloud.  Verify that the macOS username matches the JumpCloud Local User Account attribute.

Enabling FileVault and MacOS

If it's the first time you're enabling FileVault on a Mac, the user enabling FileVault will be required to log out for it to take effect. Whether you manually enforce FileVault through System Settings in macOS, or use JumpCloud's Create a Mac FileVault 2 Policy, both have the same first-time workflow for enabling FileVault. 

When a device is undergoing first-time FileVault enablement, the user is prompted to enter the password for "firstaccount" to be added to FileVault. 

Log back in to confirm FileVault is enabled:

When restarting the Mac to show the FileVault login screen, use these guidelines:

  • The FileVault login screen is to unlock the disk, which means the macOS hasn’t been loaded yet. 
  • You won’t be able to connect to wifi or networking in this state because macOS isn’t loaded. 
  • All users with Secure Token will be listed. 
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