14

I have read that the user accounts on a Mac actually have a UUID associated with them and this means Apple is tracking every action performed with that user account.

I’ve already deleted all Facebook and Google apps, and I also don’t want Apple tracking me. Searching online reveals that I can stop Apple by refreshing or changing this UUID so that Apple has no way of tracking me, as the UUID no longer matches their records.

How can I do this on my iMac Pro?

  • 10
    I suggest you read this article, and this one about how governmental agencies are monitoring your internet use. I'd be far more concerned about the details in these articles than about how Apple is tracking you. If you are truly concerned, you need to investigate other ways of anonymizing yourself. Apple is mostly transparent about their stance on privacy (see Monomeeth's answer below.) – IconDaemon Jul 3 '18 at 12:38
  • 3
    @IconDaemon While most content of those articles is based in fact I would like to point out that both articles are written by organisations that profit from people being scared about their online security (since online security is the main point of their services) and that they do exaggerate. – 11684 Jul 3 '18 at 17:13
  • 3
    If you are worried about Apple software "phoning" home with your information, there is software like obdev.at/products/littlesnitch/index.html which allow you to have control over which applications can send information back. – user545424 Jul 3 '18 at 20:07
  • 1
    They 'may' exaggerate, but they are not incorrect. The true extent of the US monitoring of its citizens, and others around the globe, is not thoroughly known. – IconDaemon Jul 4 '18 at 13:13
36

Firstly, the premise behind your question is false on two grounds:

  1. The UUID isn’t actually a UUID in the real sense. - What I mean is that it isn’t a universally unique identifier that, for anything more than practical purposes, is unique. See universally unique identifier for more info. So, while your user account UUID looks the same as a real UUID because of its 32 hexadecimal digits in the 8-4-4-4-12 pattern, it’s not actually a UUID in the true sense of unique. That is, it's not like there's a central authority ensuring that the possibility of two UUIDs being the same is zero!
  2. Apple does not use the UUID to track you - Despite occasional rumours that Apple uses this to track the activity linked to the Admin account of a Mac, there is actually no evidence of this. (This is also confirmed by 1 above - i.e. since it's not a real UUID it can't really be used for tracking purposes). Instead, this UUID is used by Apple’s Open Directory to manage information about your Mac user accounts and provides them with access to network resources. See Apple Open Directory for more info.

Secondly, since you’ve got an iMac Pro, you actually can’t change the UUID. More specifically, iMac Pros all shipped with macOS High Sierra as their original OS, and as of this version of macOS the option to Refresh or Change the UUID is no longer available like it was in earlier generations of macOS (albeit hidden away). Why? Because too many users were doing this to resolve issues and ended up causing themselves major grief instead.

Finally, you may want to familiarise yourself with Apple’s stance on privacy:

If you’re still concerned, you can also contact Apple directly about privacy issues.


WARNING for users of macOS up to and including Sierra - Do not refresh/change your UUID. Doing so will almost certainly damage your account and, in worst case scenarios, prevent you from logging in.

  • 8
    Cam you give a couple of examples of the "major grief"? – muru Jul 3 '18 at 15:28
  • 1
    @muru Isn’t that the final paragraph? – DonielF Jul 3 '18 at 19:37
  • 1
    @DonielF "damage" is vague, and I'd like a concrete example of the worst case scenarios. All that sounds a lot like the scarespeak surrounding other things that can be done relatively safely, but could screw up some setups. – muru Jul 3 '18 at 20:07
  • 2
    @muru I guess major grief is relative to how experienced the user is. What I have seen are users who (1) lose access to files (not necessarily all files, but files stored in particular locations), (2) can no longer use their passwords, (3) have problems with sharing services (e.g. file sharing, DVD/CD sharing, etc) (4) start having random problems with things like Notification Centre not working (or parts of it not working, like individual widgets), (5) and so on. – Monomeeth Jul 3 '18 at 22:12
  • 4
    Could you elaborate on what you mean by the UUID not being practically universally unique in the first point? This is, I'm not an Apple user, so I'm not sure what UUID is being discussed; I'm just reading that a UUID isn't actually a UUID, which without other context, sounds a bit confusing. – Nat Jul 4 '18 at 6:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .