The Three Sections Of Apple Configurator

This article refers to Apple Configurator version 1. Apple Configurator 1 has since been superseded by Apple Configurator 2 and the process for managing devices is therefore different than explained here. If you are still using Apple Configurator 1, these instructions are still correct.

If you’ve not used the Apple Configurator app before, it’s a slightly unusual application to get used to. I’ve been managing servers and applications for many years and even I found it took me a while to get confident and comfortable with Apple Configurator.

Before you do anything with the app, it’s worth noting the basic principles of use.

prepare-supervise-assign

Apple Configurator is split into three specific sections, each having its own function; Prepare, Supervise and Assign. Using each section sequentially, it is possible to build up a comprehensive setup of managed device settings and profiles. You won’t be able to Supervise or Assign until you’ve completed the Prepare stage.

If you are using the Configurator whilst reading this, plug one iOS device in to get started and follow some of the features on screen. I wouldn’t recommend connecting more than one device until you are familiar with the application principles, since it is possible that you may write unwanted policy settings to your device.

Prepare

Before you can do anything with Apple Configurator, you need to Prepare all the devices you wish to manage. The Prepare section adds the minimum configuration requirements to each device. On the Prepare screen you can:

  • set a device name
  • toggle device supervision
  • add organisational detail
  • set the iOS update policy
  • choose restore options (from a device backup)
  • install a device profile

If you connect one or more devices that have not already been prepared with Apple Configurator, these will show in a small number count over the Prepare icon on the application toolbar.

When you are ready to Prepare your device(s), press the Prepare button at the foot of the application window. The application window will display a progress indicator for each device. You can expand the details for each connected device to see the steps being followed. At the end of the process, the Configurator will continue to wait to prepare additional devices until you press Stop. Note that errors may be reported in the progress window – you will need to expand the device details and view the error detail in order to understand and resolve the problem.

Supervise

Supervising the iOS devices is the second stage in the process and will only work after you have Prepared your devices. This will set some of the parameters that may also be applied at the Prepare stage, in addition to a comprehensive set of options and policies that will fully customise the device(s).

At the left side of the Supervise screen is a list of Supervised Devices – these are groups of devices connected to the Apple Configurator. Device groups can contain any device that you manage and connect to the Configurator. Use the + button at the foot of the page to add your own Device group. A Device group might contain all the devices in a storage trolley, or devices that are configured for a specific type of user. Drag devices from the ‘All Devices’ or ‘USB Connected’ group into one of your own groups to manage them as a group.

The second column in the Configurator application shows a list of devices in the selected Group. Devices currently connected to the computer by USB are highlighted with a green indicator. If you have dragged previously connected devices into a specific group, these will also be shown in the list but will not be highlighted with a green indicator. Any updates you make to connected devices will not apply to disconnected devices until you connect them and run the Supervise process.

At the far right of the screen (the largest space in this application window) is the summary of device settings and policies that will be applied to the connected devices.

In order to apply settings to one or more devices, you must press the Refresh button at the foot of the application window. Connected devices are updated with the settings and apps you have selected. In addition to this, the Configurator may update iOS if an update is available and you have selected to auto update. Keep in mind that when an iOS update is applied to a device, the Refresh process will take longer than usual.

Assign

Assigning an iOS device allows you to ‘check out’ a device to a user, maintaining the settings your have configured in the Prepare and Supervise sections and also ensuring that user content is preserved when settings are updated.

A device can be checked out to a user for an indefinite period. When the user returns the device, the device is updated, policies are refreshed and data created by the user is retained and restored after any updates have completed.

iOS Device Recovery and Apple Configurator

This article refers to Apple Configurator version 1. Apple Configurator 1 has since been superseded by Apple Configurator 2 and the process for managing devices is therefore different than explained here. If you are still using Apple Configurator 1, these instructions are still correct.

Theres a collection of notes I have written on Apple Configurator, but since I’ve yet to publish these, I wanted to share some hopefully useful steps for resetting a device that may previously have been managed with Apple Configurator. If you are new to managing Apple devices with Apple Configurator – maybe you have inherited a fleet – I hope you find this useful.

Put the device into Recovery Mode

  • turn your device off.
  • connect your iPod to your Mac.
  • press the Power and Home buttons simultaneously.
  • when the Apple logo appears, release the Power button but continue holding the Home button.
  • It sometimes takes a few attempts to get the device into recovery mode. You will need to persist with this because the rest of the process relies upon this step.
When the device has been successfully placed in recovery mode, you will see an iTunes logo and picture of an Apple cable on screen. Your device should be ready for us to reconfigure with the Apple Configurator.

Reset the device using Apple Configurator

  • Open Apple Configurator.
  • Your device will display in one of two places. If your device appears as a ‘USB connected’ device in the Supervise section, right-click the iPod and select ‘Unsupervise device’. Unsupervising may take a few minutes.
  • Your device should now be shown in the Prepare section (indicated by a small number over the Prepare icon on the application toolbar). You can now apply your own management profile immediately.

Prepare your device

  • Switch to the Prepare section of the Apple Configurator.
  • Enter a device name in the Name field.
  • For the recovery process, leave the Supervision switch set to Off.
  • Optionally add Organization details by pressing the ‘Organization Info…’ button.
  • Depending on your preference, you may choose to set ‘Update iOS’ to ‘Never update device’, at least until you have all iPods working again. You can always update iOS later.
  • Since you are recovering the device, and assuming you don’t have any content you need to keep on the device, make sure ‘Erase before installing’ is ticked.
  • The ‘Restore’ option should be set to ‘Don’t restore backup’.
  • Don’t install any profiles until you have the devices working correctly. You can always install a Profile containing WiFi details, app restrictions etc. once the device(s) have been fully recovered.
  • Press the Prepare button at the bottom of the Apple Configurator application window.

The display changes to a progress window giving detail of what preparatory steps are taking place. Once the entries for your device(s) have all been closed and the application shows ‘1 of 1 devices prepared’, press the Stop button (otherwise Configurator will wait for more devices to connect and also prepare each one).

If this process has worked, your device should be ready for you to run the ‘New Device’ setup wizard. Just complete the process as you would for a new device. When you reach the iPod home screen, open Settings and look in the General section for Profiles – no profiles should exist on the device. You can now return to the Configurator to install one or more Profiles, or to setup Supervision.

All you need to do now is repeat the process for each device you have. If you have a charging unit that also allows for USB computer connection, you could put all devices into recovery mode and connect at the same time to reset them together.

Delivering Consistent Hyperlink Previews in Email

Newer email clients, including Office 365 offer a preview feature when you insert a hyperlink in the body of your message. I found that for many pages in our school website, the preview image wasn’t the one I wanted to see.

It seems that in most cases the preview image will be the first encountered in the body of the web page. This is similar to Facebook scrape behaviour. If you are already publishing pages that will be shared via Facebook, there’s a good chance you have thought about image placement already and verified that the first image found is the one you want users to see inline with your shared content.

In my case, I hadn’t considered which image would be shown as a preview. In order to correct the preview behaviour and present an image that was more appropriate, I placed an image near the top of the page and then used some comment tags to hide it from view. Now when anyone embeds a link to one of our pages in an email, the preview image is consistent.