What are only necessary processes (minimal set) for OS X work?

What are the differences in the sets for different versions (Lion minimal set, Mountain Lion minimal set)?

What are the processes that are not needed for the OS X operates?

I know the descriptions of the processes (here: http://triviaware.com/macprocess/all), but I don't know what is the minimal set of pprocesses to start the OS X (Mountain Lion) with GUI, (e.g. without dashboard, without notification center).


I would like to have a minimal set of processes/services for the system can boot and launch the minimal graphical desktop environment (like KDE/Unity/GNOME in Linux world) + possibility to launch the terminal (simple bash) + possibility to launch/quit processes + process monitoring + (optionally) finder. All the other processes needed I can find out using additive approach/cycle (try to do an action - find out needed processes/services/libraries - add it)

  • 3
    There are more than one answer to your question. For e.g. if you're planning to run headless Macs as a HPC, then the list of OS X processes to be enabled are different. Please edit your question to include the task(s) you want to accomplish. May 14, 2013 at 12:50

1 Answer 1


Try something like launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist and see what stops working. launchctl unload doesn't make any permanent changes, so the plist is loaded again when you log out and back in.

Some processes that might be disabled if you are trying to simplify the UI:

  • Dock: Also disables Mission Control, Launchpad, Dashboard, full screen windows, the application switcher, and the Notification Center sidebar, and makes desktop backgrounds gray.
  • Finder: Also removes the window of the desktop. Doesn't affect Quick Look or file dialogs.
  • mds and mdworker: Disables Spotlight indexing and makes the Spotlight menu, mdfind, mdls, and for example searching in Finder and Mail stop working.
  • NotificationCenter: Disables notifications and removes the Notification Center icon and sidebar.
  • pbs: Removes services from the Apple menu, context menus, and the keyboard preference pane.
  • SystemUIServer: Removes menu extras and the Spotlight menu but not status menus or the Notification Center icon.

This concatenates the man pages of processes that have man pages:

MANPAGER='col -bx' man -a $(ps -eco comm= | grep -v -e ^- -e ' ' | sort -u) > /tmp/man.txt


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