Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Managed Preferences not working on a few Apple Macs

I look after about 140 Apple Macs, now with OS X 10.6.6. It was noticed that at least two, in one classroom, were not picking up printers and autologin items specified in Workgroup Manager as a managed preference.

It took a while but I found this forum which gave a good insight into troubleshooting managed preference on the Apple Macs. Here are a few tools:
  • Go to About This Mac > System Profiler > Managed Preferences. It will show you what preference are managed, if any.
  • From terminal use the command: mcxrefresh
  • Also from terminal use: mcxquery - much better then the refresh for troubleshooting
After trying all of these it was apparent that the machine was not picking up anything! Nothing appeared in any of these tools, so I finally referred to Workgroup Manager.

The computer was in the list, with the right MAC address. I finally had a look in the All Computers list and sorted in order of MAC Address. I found that this MAC address was listed twice! I deleted the other instance and what do you know, it worked.

Note: Always check for duplicate entries in workgroup manager!!


To properly refresh the MCX preferences from the client machine logged in as a user you can:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Make sure you're a SUDO user
  3. type:
    1. sudo mcxrefresh -n USERNAME_HERE -a
    2. Password:
  4. It came up with this error though:
    1. 07] CFURLCreateWithString was passed this invalid URL string: '/Applications/' (a file system path instead of an URL string). The URL created will not work with most file URL functions. CFURLCreateWithFileSystemPath or CFURLCreateWithFileSystemPathRelativeToBase should be used instead.
  5. but it did refresh all information and install the right printers!

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