What happens if a user installed an app manually (from AppStore or Enterprise App) and later on MDM tries to install the same app?

  • Does MDM app installation fails (because the app is installed already)
  • Does MDM overwrite existing app?
  • Does MDM request whether to overwrite?

MDM has a notion of "managed apps". These apps are installed through MDM and MDM can remove them. Mainly, I am interested in this question to understand whether these apps could be removed through MDM later on.

If MDM overwrites existing app (with or without user acceptance) then these apps will be managed and could be removed through MDM later on. If MDM fails to install them than they won't be managed (can't be uninstalled).

  • You had two questions in here. This site works better when there is only one question per question. That way, it's easier for other people to find solutions if they have the same problem. I've edited out your second question, but feel free to ask it separately.
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Having an MDM doesn't change the permissions and app deletion behavior on iOS so it only facilitates getting a redemption code onto the device.

What really matters is who signed the app. If the app is signed from Apple - then it doesn't matter if it came from iTunes, iCloud restore, MDM or Apple's app store. A user can either delete all apps or no apps based on the iOS profile in force.

Now, for enterprise signed apps (or developer signed apps), you can tie a signing certificate or trust chain to a configuration profile and ensure that apps signed by that cert get deleted when the profile is deleted.

So a user can decide to remove one app or remove all apps or remove the profile. But the user can't remove the profile and have the apps remain.

This is a nice general overview. If you select a particular MDM solution (Casper, AirWatch, Mobile Iron, etc..) or just use iPhone Configuration utility or Apple Configurator - you can re-ask this to nail down your particular deployment scenario and we can dive deeper into what you seek to accomplish.

  • Thanks. Got it. That's exactly what I assumed. Do you know what happens for the case a)? Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 19:49
  • @VictorRonin Same thing as if you went to the App store and tried to install a second copy of an app - it would have an "open" button. In practice, it's not an issue since it doesn't matter what account is wrapped into the code signature to validate the package.
    – bmike
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 19:51
  • Mainly, I ask this, because MDM has notification of managed apps. Managed app is only an app which is installed through MDM. So, it's not obvious what would will happen. If an application is rejected then it will be on the device as unmanaged app, if it's overwritten (with or without user acceptance) then it becomes managed. Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 19:55
  • Sorry - I just avoided that part of the question since you didn't mention what kind of app and what kind of MDM. The apps don't get managed - the entire OS gets managed. Free apps still come from Apple and not the MDM in all cases I'm familiar with. Similarly - once the device is under management - you can poll for inventory of all installed apps whether or not it came from the MDM or elsewhere. The user policy should state this clearly for your end user so they know what they are signing up for in a BYOD scenario and their device enters management.
    – bmike
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 20:07
  • I am not sure that I understood your last comment. MDM documentation has a notification of "managed apps". These are the apps which are installed through MDM and which can be remove through MDM. I was talking about them. Taking into account possibility of app removal through MDM, it's important whether app is managed or not. So, I am not sure what did you mean by "The apps don't get managed - the entire OS gets managed." Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 20:10

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