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 Apple Configurator 1 has since been superseded by Apple Configurator 2 and the process for managing devices is therefore different than explained here.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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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