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I wish to avoid giving administrative privileges to applications that I do not completely trust. It seems like a reasonable design to me that if I install an application using a pkg file (or something like sudo port install emacs using macports), the installed application never gains root access, but instead I grant another process privileges to install the file.

The way I think things are designed seems to contradict the popular question How can I open a .pkg file manually?, where the OP says: "Some applications come in .pkg files, and ask for you administrator password". We can see from the dialogue that when a package is opened it is the installer that asks for the password.

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I also imagine that the installer might allow for applications to be installed in such a way that they gain privileges when being run after they are installed and that it is possibly up to the user to verify that the application does not ask to be installed in critical directories. For example, I can imagine there is a directory that contains binaries that e.g. launchd runs with root privileges.

So my question is: Does the installer give administrative privileges to applications, either in this first direct way, or perhaps in some indirect way?

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