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I realize this was asked back in 2014 with this question, but hardware and software has changed a lot over the last 5 years.

Here's the specifics of my situation:

  • We haven't purchased the device yet, that is contingent on the answer to this question, essentially.
  • We are looking at putting a Mac Mini into an environment that requires we disable all wireless communications to/from the device.
  • Our devices have firmware passwords and FileVault 2 enabled.
  • Apple activates Bluetooth automatically on all devices before the drive is unlocked to ensure users can connect a Bluetooth keyboard to unlock the drive.
  • We need to prevent the Bluetooth from ever coming on in the environment we want to put it in.

Here's the million $ question: Is there any way to prevent Bluetooth from ever coming on, even before the drive is unlocked and policies are enforced?

In a dream world, we would just order a model without a BT card at all, but I don't know how feasible that is.

EDIT--- To clarify, this is going into a government facility that doesn't allow wireless signals at any point. So unfortunately we can't just ignore the signal and get wired devices.

We've talked about Faraday cages, but aren't confident they'll get approved since someone would only need to remove the cage.

Right now the closest solution we've come to, is removing the card, but they are soldered to the board. We're not sure if removing the antenna would work. I've got at least one report that someone was able to connect still, albeit from very close.

EDIT 2---

I forgot to mention that in an ideal situation, it would not void the warranty. But I wouldn't be surprised if that was a bridge too far.

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    You could put the Mac Mini in a faraday cage and block all wireless communication that way. :-) The text in bold is paradoxical, though, unless you physically remove the BT hardware. Perhaps removing the antenna plate (assuming a late 2018 Mac Mini) would stop the wireless communications. Instructions at iFixit. – IconDaemon Sep 25 at 17:37
  • You can turn Bluetooth off in the System Preferences/Bluetooth. It will stay off until you turn it back on. Is this the answer you're looking for? If so I'll write this up as an answer? – jmh Sep 25 at 20:49
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    "We are looking at putting a Mac Mini into an environment that requires we disable all wireless communications to/from the device." Could you elaborate on this? – drivec Sep 25 at 20:55
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    @jmh bluetooth by default is turned on to allow Bluetooth keyboard etc for passwords. OP wants to have no bluetooth before the settings can be changed. – ankii Sep 26 at 6:51
  • Could running VMWare ESXI in the MacMini and virtualising macOS be a solution? Perhaps that could give you option to limit hardware access for the guest OS. – alexkent Oct 4 at 8:25
5

The most foolproof way of doing this is simply to disconnect the physical antennas. Then no matter what kind of firmware updates, operating system updates, reboots, or whatever happens - it's not going to enable itself again.

You can follow the guide for disassembling at from iFixIt:

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Mac+mini+Late+2018+Teardown/115210

In step 7, you'll see that the antenna connectors are located on the main board just below the speaker assembly.

Location of antennas

By the way: From the sound of your question, I could guess that you're wanting to place the Mac Mini in a data center that forbids the use of wireless devices. In my experience, these places are not so restrictive that you need to actually go through with this. Their rules just mean that you're not allowed to use WiFi/Bluetooth for actual data transfers in the data centers. It doesn't mean that if the Bluetooth antenna is powered up for 30 seconds during a FileVault boot, that they'll sue you for breach of contract. Perhaps try asking them how seriously you need to take that requirement.

EDIT: You have updated your question to say that you wanted to remove the Bluetooth card, and preferably doing so without voiding warranty. That is definitely not possible.

The "card" is not a card - Bluetooth is implemented as a soldered on module from muRata containing not only Bluetooth radios, but also the WiFi radios.

It seems like your requirements for hardware doesn't really fit a Mac Mini at all - so perhaps you should look at buying a different computer instead?

Or you could consider changing the default Apple software. For example you could run Linux instead of macOS on the Mac Mini - where Bluetooth as far as I know is not supported (and if it is, it is easy to disable). This also would mean that you would no longer be using FileVault 2, and so that part of the problem would go away. At that point you might as well buy different hardware since you haven't got a computer yet.

  • You make a good point about changing hardware, but the point of the exercise is specifically to get the Apple OS into this environment. We're talking about other models, but also need to remove cameras and microphones. We figured the MacMini only had the wireless concerns. – DWShore Sep 26 at 17:15
  • Sounds like you should just buy the Mac Pro. It hasn’t got cameras or microphones, and the Bluetooth/WiFi is on an Airport Card, which you can just take out. No soldering needed. – jksoegaard Sep 26 at 17:43
  • I brought that up with my team. They all looked at me and laughed at the idea of a $5k solution to a $20 problem. Not completely impossible, just highly unlikely. – DWShore Sep 30 at 14:02
  • What's your $20 solution then? - Doesn't really make sense. – jksoegaard Sep 30 at 21:00
  • I'm speaking hyperbole, I don't actually have a $20 solution. But if we suggest using such an expensive machine for someone to check their emails, we'll just get laughed at and told "Then why don't we just buy a PC?" – DWShore Oct 1 at 13:43

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