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There's some apps that are sort of irreplaceable for a user, yet at the same time unwanted by them, (due to violating privacy, controversial history etc.)

In my case that is Google's Android File Transfer¹, which is irreplaceable (to me), yet like any Google product, behaves literally like malware when installed on your computer.

When it comes specifically to an app that is: (i) simply "drag-to-Applications-folder" to install (rather than through a .PKG installer²), and (ii) on a computer that hasn't already launched/used that "sketchy" app (now or in the past), can I:

(a) Make a burner Standard-type User Account → logout from my Admin acc → login with that burner one → download and use the "sketchy" app there and then, but making sure I don't use my Admin credentials at any time, if/when asked while logged in the burner one → logout and back in with my Admin acc → and just erase the burner one? Would that leave any traces of the "sketchy" app behind, or is it as if it's never been on this computer?

(b) Instead of deleting that burner acc, can I just keep it for future use, so that it permanently works sort of as a sandbox, for when I need to use "sketchy" apps? (Since I haven't been able to find a built-in or 3rd-party macOS feature which sandboxes apps for you) Or would it leave my computer susceptible to those apps?


¹ The reference to that specific app is purely indicative; my inquiry applies to any app that one might deem "sketchy".

² i.e., app related files will inevitably be installed in /Library/ (and not just ~/Library/) for the app to work properly, when installed through a .PKG installer. Examples: Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, etc.

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  • macOS has a built-in Sandbox, you'll find more infos here : apple.stackexchange.com/a/336276/215993 – Lulucmy Jan 2 at 16:15
  • I read that thread, and there are no solutions other than the one from the user who suggested that MyApp configuration: This is my first sandbox configuration [...] Is that the one you are referring to? If yes, have you tried it? I don't know if it does work, but I'm looking for a more GUI-oriented solution (i.e., burner user acc, etc.) This one compiles an applescript and then executes it in Terminal (if I got it right)? – robinhoodhat Jan 2 at 17:53
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I'd be more inclined towards a 'burner' VM macOS install if you're that worried. Duplicate it before any sketchy install, so you can just delete it after use, keeping the 'master' VM safe.

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    Yes, this is how I almost always test new software! VMWare Fusion does a good job of virtualizing macOS, and it's free now for personal use. You don't need to duplicate the whole VM, you can create snapshots! – Wowfunhappy Jan 2 at 16:19
  • Cool. I've always been a Parallels user… just because that's what I started on, no other reason. I have absolutely no drive space issues, I think 14TB in this machine, so i get rather blasé about duping entire machines ;)) but good point. – Tetsujin Jan 2 at 16:23
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    I've used both VMWare and Parallels, and while for Windows guests I'd say go with whatever interface you prefer, I've found VMWare to be very clearly better at visualizing macOS guests. And of course the fact that it's free now helps too. – Wowfunhappy Jan 2 at 17:57
  • Snapshots aren't just good for saving space—they're really easy to make and restore, and then you can eventually get to a place where you have tons of different "checkpoints" you can jump between at any point. Here's the set of snapshots on one of my VM's: i.ibb.co/sFBgVmY/Screen-Shot-2021-01-02-at-12-56-42-PM.png – Wowfunhappy Jan 2 at 17:59
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    @robinhoodhat You probably used Virtualbox. ;) You can literally run AAA games in VMWare and Parallels these days. Mac guests aren't quite that good (no 3D acceleration), but it's enough unless the apps you're testing are very graphics heavy. – Wowfunhappy Jan 2 at 18:01

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