Why Is There Suddenly A Profile Section In System Preferences On My Mac & Why Is There An iMovie Profile In It?

Recently, I got a few calls from clients who run Macs who noted a new system preference option appear in System Preferences.

As you can see here, the system preference in question is called Profiles. Every client that I had talked to had never seen it before. But it gets better, when you look in Profiles, this is what you will see:

What you see above provisioning profile. A provisioning profile is used by Xcode to determine if the app can be installed on a particular device, what services from the operating system the app will have access to (iCloud, Keychain, Push Notifications, etc), and some other information to get the app installed on the device or shipped to the App Store. This is true of iOS apps and true of macOS apps. They also allow developers to test apps that aren’t published on the App Store.

Another use of profiles is to allow Enterprise Mobility Management software, aka EMM software to manage your Mac in an environment where one might have dozens or hundreds of Macs and touching each one by hand is impractical. In this case the profile could be used to deliver anything from software updates, configuration changes, or lock the Mac down to limit what the user could do.

The thing is unless you fit either use case, you as an end user should never actually see a Profile pane in system preferences. So this is clearly weird. I looked at my Mac and my wife’s Mac and sure enough, we had a Profiles pane and this profile in it. It took a bit of detective work, but I think I know what is going on. I think that Apple screwed up when they published iMovie 10.2.3 a couple of weeks back and left the profile in the product when they published it to the App Store. That to me makes sense as these profiles are usually stripped out before the app hits the App Store. But for whatever reason that only Apple can explain, not that we should expect them to explain anything, that didn’t happen in this case. So when end users downloaded this version of iMovie, they also get this profile installed. And here we are talking about it.

The good news is that removing the profile if you choose to do so won’t harm your system, it won’t keep iMovie from starting, and as a bonus, it makes the Profiles system option disappear as long as there are no other profiles present. Conversely, if you leave it there, nothing bad will happen to your system either. So I will leave it to you to choose what course you want to take. But if you want to remove it, here’s what you should do:

  • Open the Profiles Preference
  • Highlight the iMovie_27_Sep profile
  • Click on the minus (-) icon at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • A dialog box will pop up asking you to confirm that you want to remove this. Do that and then authenticate when prompted to do so.
  • Declare victory and have a beer.

One last thing. A few of the people who reported this to me asked if they had been hacked. While profiles have been known to install malicious software, and in the case of Facebook bypass the app store entirely, that isn’t the case here. There is no security risk here that is present. So you need not worry about that.

One Response to “Why Is There Suddenly A Profile Section In System Preferences On My Mac & Why Is There An iMovie Profile In It?”

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