What's the best way to manage 10-20 Apple computers for a small company? All the devices are purchased and owned by the company. We want to be to reassign computers from one person to another, and have the new user be able to update software without needing the original user to authenticate with their Apple ID.

Is it better to have a single Apple ID (e.g. [email protected]) in use on all the computers, or have each employee create their own Apple ID? If the latter, how do you reassign a computer from one person to another?

2 Answers 2


Your ideal deployment scenario depends heavily on a few factors:

  • Budget for App purchase and volume of apps that will be installed.
  • Backup solution you choose for each Mac and whether that will facilitate moving apps when a computer is reassigned or hinder that movement.
  • Whether all the computers will have an identical (or very simiar) app allocation or whether you will have a lot of individual needs and purchase patterns.
  • Cost of labor and whether you want to hire an employee to manage things or outsource some or all of the planning and assistance.
  • Availability of Apple Business staff to get free assistance in planning this as well as extremely inexpensive Joint Venture training, support and customized assistance.

You will run into problems using one Apple ID for deployment as well as licensing issues since multiple installs for one Apple ID is only allowed for personal use. I would start by reading Apple's standard software license agreements and decide if you want to have a layered deployment where some apps come from corporate and some personal Apple ID or if you need to do a little more planning before knowing what option fits your needs best.

The cost of labor calculation is the one I see businesses mis-estimate substantially as they sometimes fail to estimate how interested or capable their employees are in self-servicing their computers as well as how effective iterative solutions and building a team that can self-solve and self-train is not only for making good choices for trivial tasks like app updates, but also for productively using technology to solve business problems in general.

By managing the attention and energy of employees, sometimes you will want to make different choices and looking at computer management in isolation can yield a good solution, but taking a broader view and self-assesing where the business needs to head can color the tactical choices you make for managing computing assets.

  • Thanks for the list of factors! We don't use many apps; backups will vary between local Time Capsule and other solutions like BackBlaze; most/all computers will look very similar; we want to minimize labor and avoid hiring or outsourcing for this effort; haven't considered AB staff. Jan 2, 2014 at 20:08

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned OSX Server, or Apple Configurator.

http://www.apple.com/osx/server/ https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/apple-configurator/id434433123?mt=12

  • Those are nice free (as in initial cost) tools, but how do they relate to choosing which Apple ID issued on specific computers? Some discussion would be helpful to explain how these tools relate to managing updates or account details.
    – bmike
    Feb 24, 2014 at 18:01
  • Just scroll down a bit. apple.com/osx/server/servers-made-easy/#management Feb 25, 2014 at 22:13

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