Managed OS for macOS Compatibility and Installation Mechanisms

By Andrew Merrick

Learn what versions of macOS are compatible with Managed OS for macOS and how each works.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What Is Managed OS for macOS? 

Managed OS is a feature in Kandji that allows an admin to specify a minimum OS version a supervised Mac must be running, and can enforce updating to the latest version if that minimum version is not met. This is all done with a simplicity similar to our Auto Apps feature.

Managed OS for macOS Compatibility and Installation Mechanisms

Managed OS for macOS compatibility varies by Mac computer architecture and macOS version, and different installation mechanisms are used.

Mac computers with Apple Silicon 

Enforced macOS Managed OS Version
Current macOS VersionmacOS Big Sur (11)macOS Monterey (12)macOS Ventura (13)
Minor Updates for 11.X.XMajor Upgrades to 11.X.XMinor Updates for 12.X.XMajor Upgrades to 12.X.XMinor Updates for 13.X.XMajor Upgrades to 13.X.X
11.0-11.3.1Not Possible

Not Possible
Not Possible
11.4MDM Commands

Not Possible
Not Possible
11.5-11.6.1MDM Commands

MDM Commands
MDM Commands
12.0.1+

MDM Commands

MDM Commands
13.0+



MDM Commands

Mac computers with Intel 

Enforced macOS Managed OS Version
Current macOS VersionmacOS Mojave (10.14)macOS Catalina (10.15)macOS Big Sur (11)macOS Monterey (12) & macOS Ventura (13)
Minor Updates for 10.14.xMajor Upgrades to 10.14.xMinor Updates for 10.15.XMajor Upgrades to 10.15.XMinor Updates for 11.X.XMajor Upgrades to 11.X.XMinor UpdatesMajor Upgrades
10.13-10.13.6
startosinstall CLI
startosinstall CLI
startosinstall CLI
startosinstall CLI
10.14-10.16Combo Updater

startosinstall CLI
startosinstall CLI
startosinstall CLI
10.15-10.15.7

Combo Updater

startosinstall CLI
startosinstall CLI
11.0-11.1



Not Possible

startosinstall CLI
11.2-11.3.1



softwareupdate CLI


startosinstall CLI
11.4-11.6.1



MDM Commands

startosinstall CLI
12.0.1+





MDM Commandsstartosinstall CLI
13.0+






MDM Commands

Mac computers upgrading to macOS Monterey or macOS Ventura

Mac computers can have a macOS Monterey or macOS Ventura upgrade enforced with Kandji. Mac computers with Apple silicon will be upgraded using MDM commands if they're running macOS 11.5 or later. Intel-based Mac computers enforce the upgrade by locally caching the full installer and executing the startosinstall binary. 

For Mac computers with Apple silicon, Kandji uses the ScheduleOSUpdate MDM command with the InstallASAP install action once the user starts the upgrade or the enforcement timer reaches zero. Because macOS handles the download and install of the upgrade in the same action, there can potentially be long delays and user wait times. Note that macOS also does not provide user-visible progress during the process -- the Mac will simply restart when ready.

All Mac computers, macOS 11.4 or later

Every Mac computer running a macOS version of 11.4 or later uses MDM commands to download and install macOS updates. 

Please note: 

If a Mac computer already has an update cached (either by the user caching the update via System Preferences, the softwareupdate CLI, or automatic downloads being enabled via the Software Update Library Item), macOS may not accurately report this state to Kandji. As a result, Kandji interprets multiple non-progressing downloads or failures as an indicator that the update is already cached. This process currently takes three hours, after which the Kandji Agent will move to enforce the update under that assumption.

Mac computers with Apple silicon, macOS earlier than 11.4

Mac computers with Apple silicon running a macOS version earlier than 11.4 will report as incompatible because the MDM commands to install software updates from MDM were nonfunctional in these versions of macOS. Additionally, the softwareupdate CLI tool cannot be leveraged to silently update macOS on Apple silicon devices.

Mac computers with Intel processors, macOS 11.2 through 11.3.1

Intel-based Mac computers running a version of macOS later than 11.2 but earlier than 11.4 can have minor macOS updates enforced. In these cases, the Kandji Agent leverages the softwareupdate CLI tool to download and install the updates. Note that the softwareupdate CLI the Kandji Agent leverages on these versions of macOS can have reliability issues and may require two or three attempts to download an update successfully. 

Mac computers with Intel processors, macOS 11 through 11.1

Intel-based Mac computers running these versions contain an issue in macOS that prevents the softwareupdate CLI and MDM software update commands from silently installing macOS updates correctly. Managed OS for macOS will report Intel-based Mac computers running these versions of macOS as incompatible.

Mac computers with Intel, macOS 10.14 through 10.15.7

Intel-based Mac computers running macOS 10.14 through 10.15.7 can have minor OS updates (such as 10.15.0 to 10.15.7) enforced by the Kandji Agent installing Apple combo updater packages. Intel-based Mac computers running these versions of macOS can be upgraded to macOS 12 (Monterey) by the Kandji Agent leveraging the startosinstall binary within a macOS full installer. The latest available installer within Kandji is always used. 

What Kind of macOS Updates Can I Manage? 

With Managed OS for macOS, Kandji allows you to enforce a minimum OS version. This provides support for upgrading for both minor updates (such as 10.15.1 to 10.15.4) and major macOS upgrades (such as macOS Catalina 10.15.4 to macOS Monterey 12.3 or macOS Ventura).

This feature does not support downgrading macOS versions, and does not support supplemental updates offered to macOS versions prior to macOS Big Sur.

Deployment Considerations

If you choose to use the Automatically Enforce New Updates option, the enforcement schedule is based on the release date of an update from Apple. For example, if you set the timeline to 2 weeks, but Apple hasn't released a new update in the last 2 weeks, at the next check-in, the Kandji agent would begin enforcing the latest available update because it's more than 2 weeks old. As a result, all of your out-of-date Mac computers would show the 30-minute countdown and require users to update and restart.

For that reason, if this is your first time enforcing a minimum macOS version on your fleet, Kandji very strongly recommends using the Manually Enforce Minimum Version option and setting the enforcement deadline to at least 5 days away. That way, users with out-of-date Mac computers will start receiving update notifications 5 days prior to the enforcement deadline versus right away.

To learn more about configuring Managed OS, follow our configuration guide.

To avoid potential conflicts with the pre-downloading and caching of an update in Kandji before enforcement, if you're using Managed OS, Kandji strongly recommends that you disable the automatic download of updates in any Software Update Library Items used in any Blueprint where Managed OS is also used.