Mac Desktop and Laptop

This topic describes how to configure macOS devices for online testing.

Testing Device

A feature in macOS 11.4+ called Assessment Mode (formerly Automatic Assessment Configuration) works with the CAI secure browser to lock down Mac device for online testing. Users in the field need to do nothing to set up Assessment Mode. Once the secure browser is launched, Assessment Mode starts automatically. For more information about Assessment Mode, including a list of features it disables, refer to Apple’s Set up iPad and Mac to give tests and assessments web page.

For macOS 10.13–10.15, several features must be disabled before testing begins; installing the Mac Secure Profile disables the hot keys for the following functions:

  • Mission Control
  • Spaces
  • Screenshots
  • Dictation

The Mac Secure Profile disables the trackpad gestures for accessing the following functions:

  • Lookup
  • App Exposé
  • Launchpad
  • Show Desktop

The Secure Profile also sets function keys to standard functions for all users of the deployed Mac, disables Voice Control, and disables the menu pop-up that appears when triple-tapping the power button on Touch Bar–enabled devices. It prevents the device from receiving files via AirDrop and disables the ability to have the Mac identify items under the pointer. Without Secure Profile, these settings must be disabled manually. As a result, technology coordinators are recommended to download and install the updated Secure Profile for Mac.

Following installation of the Secure Profile, users will need to disable third-party app updates and Fast User Switching, all of which are detailed in this topic.

Installing the Mac Secure Profile

The Mac Secure Profile is a script that can be used to configure Mac workstations for online testing. The profile can be downloaded from the CAASPP and ELPAC Secure Browsers website. Because the Secure Profile configures the operating system regardless of the operating system’s current settings, there is no configuration profile to roll back the changes. Instead, a device profile’s preferences and settings should be backed up prior to installation. Once the device is no longer used for testing, the profile can be removed and the original settings can be reapplied.

To revert configurations made by the Secure Profile without a backup of the device profile’s preferences and settings prior to installation, the features that were suppressed must be reenabled manually through System Preferences.

The Secure Profile was last updated in spring 2021. Versions installed prior to spring 2021 should be updated.

To download and install the Mac Secure Profile:

  1. Select the [macOS] tab in the left navigation bar of the CAASPP and ELPAC Secure Browsers website (indicated in figure 1).

    macOS tab on the Secure Browser website with the Download the Secure Profile link indicated

    Figure 1. [macOS] tab on the CAASPP and ELPAC Secure Browser website

  2. Select the [Download the Secure Profile] link to download the Mac Secure Profile (also indicated in figure 1).
  3. Run the Mac Secure Profile installer.
  4. After installation, restart the device.

Disabling Fast User Switching

Fast User Switching is a feature in macOS that allows for more than one user to be logged on at the same time. If Fast User Switching is not disabled and students try to access it during a test, the secure browser will pause the test.

To disable Fast User Switching:

  1. Choose the Apple menu ➔ System Preferences.
  2. Select the [Users & Groups] option (indicated in figure 2).

    System Preferences window with Users & Groups button indicated

    Figure 2. [Users & Groups] button in macOS System Preferences

  3. If the padlock in the lower left corner of the Users & Groups is locked as indicated in figure 3, select it and authenticate with administrator credentials.

    Users & Groups window with Lock indicated

    Figure 3. Users & Groups window

  4. Select the [Login Options] button to open the Login Options window (figure 4).

    Users & Groups Login Options with 'Show fast user switching as...' checkbox indicated

    Figure 4. Login Options window

  5. Uncheck the Show fast user switching menu as… box to disable Fast User Switching. Its icon will no longer appear in the menu bar.
  6. Close the Users & Groups window.

Disabling the Text-to-Speech Keyboard Shortcut

A feature in macOS 10.12 and later allows users to have any text on the screen read aloud by selecting the text and pressing a preset key or set of keys on the keyboard. By default, this feature is disabled and must remain disabled so as not to compromise test security. These instructions describe how to toggle this feature.

  1. Choose the Apple menu ➔ System Preferences.
  2. Select the [Accessibility] option (indicated in figure 5 ).

    System Preferences with the Accessibility button indicated

    Figure 5. [Accessibility] button in macOS System Preferences

  3. Select [Speech]
  4. Uncheck the Speak selected text when the key is pressed box.

Disabling Third-Party Apps Updates Manually

Updates to third-party apps may include components that compromise the testing environment. This subtopic describes how to disable updates to third-party apps.

The following instructions are based on macOS 10.14; similar instructions apply for other supported versions of macOS.

To disable updates to third-party apps:

  1. Log on to the student’s account.
  2. Choose the Apple menu ➔ System Preferences. The System Preferences dialog box opens (figure 6).

    Apple System Preferences dialog box with App Store indicated

    Figure 6. Apple System Preferences dialog box

  3. Select the [App Store] icon. The App Store screen opens.
  4. Select the Preferences item from the App Store menu (figure 7).

    App Store menu bar options with link to Preferences

    Figure 7. App Store menu bar options

  5. Uncheck the Automatic Updates box (figure 8).

    App Store Preferences with the Automatic Updates checkbox indicated

    Figure 8. App Store preferences

  6. Close the Preferences and App Store screens.

Secure Browser

This topic provides instructions for installing the secure browser on Mac desktop or laptop computers only; it does not apply to Apple mobile devices such as the iPad.


Installing on an Individual Device

In this scenario, a user installs the secure browser on Apple desktop and laptop computers running macOS 10.12 through 10.16. The steps in this procedure may vary depending on the version of macOS and the web browser.

  1. Remove any previous version of the secure browser by dragging its folder to the Trash.
  2. Navigate to the CAASPP and ELPAC Secure Browsers website by visiting either the CAASPP Technology Resources web page or the ELPAC Technology Resources web page and then selecting the [Secure Browsers] link at either location.
  3. Select the [macOS] tab and then select the appropriate [Download Secure Browser] button, for either macOS 10.13–15 or macOS 11.4 (figure 9).

    Download Secure Browser for macOS buttons

    Figure 9. [Download Secure Browser] buttons

  4. If prompted for a download location, select the Downloads folder. Otherwise, the file goes into the Downloads folder by default.
  5. Open [Downloads] from the dock, and then select the downloaded.dmg file (such as CA SecureBrowser14.0.dmg) to display its contents (figure 10).

    The contents of the CASecureBrowser folder)

    Figure 10. Contents of the CASecureBrowser.dmg folder

  6. Either hold down the [Control] key when opening the downloaded file to bypass the security on an ad hoc basis; or follow these additional steps to temporarily allow installation from any source. Otherwise, proceed to step 7.
    1. Open System Preferences (AppleSystem Preferences).
    2. Select the [Security and Privacy] icon.
    3. In the [General ] tab, select the lock in the bottom-left corner of the screen (indicated in figure 11) and then type the password to enable changes.

      Security & Privacy screen for macOS with the App Store and identified developers radio button and the Lock both indicated

      Figure 11. Security & Privacy screen for macOS

    4. In the “Allow apps downloaded from” section, first note which radio button is highlighted, and then select the Allow App Store and identified developers radio button (also indicated in figure 11).
  7. Drag the [CA SecureBrowser] icon in the CASecureBrowser.dmg to the folder icon on its right (figure 12). This installs the secure browser into Applications.

    The contents of the CASecureBrowser folder with the CASecureBrowser being dragged to the letter-A folder

    Figure 12. [CASecureBrowser] icon dragged in the CASecureBrowser.dmg folder

  8. Ensure all background jobs, such as virus scans or software updates, are scheduled outside of test windows. For example, if testing takes place between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., schedule background jobs outside of these hours.
  9. In Finder, navigate to GoApplications, and then double-click [CA SecureBrowser] to launch the secure browser (figure 13). (The user must launch the secure browser to complete the installation.)

    Figure 13. [CASecureBrowser] shortcut icon for macOS

  10. Select [Open] when prompted that the application had been downloaded from the internet.
  11. The secure browser opens displaying the student logon screen. The secure browser fills the entire screen and hides the dock.
  12. To exit the secure browser, select [CLOSE SECURE BROWSER] in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  13. To create a desktop shortcut, from the Applications folder, drag the [CA SecureBrowser] icon (figure 13) to the desktop.

Cloning the Installation

Depending on the local networking and permissions, it may be faster to install the secure browser on to a single Mac, take an image of the disk, and then copy the image to other Macs.

To clone the secure browser installation to other Macs:

  1. Take the following steps on the Mac where the user will clone the installation:
    1. Install the secure browser following the directions in the subtopic Installing the Secure Browser on an Individual Apple Computer. Be sure to run and then close the secure browser after the installation.
    2. In Finder, display the Library interface (Go ➔ [Option] + Library) and then open the Application Support folder (figure 14).

      Library interface with the Application Support folder indicated

      Figure 14. Apple Library interface

    3. Delete the CASecureBrowser folder containing the secure browser (figure 15).

      Apple Application Support interface with the CASecureBrowser 14.0 folder indicated

      Figure 15. Apple Application Support configuration interface

  2. Create a shell script that creates a new secure browser profile when a user logs on. The basic command to create a profile is <install_directory>/Contents/MacOS/‌CASecureBrowser‑‑CreateProfile profile_name, where profile_name is unique among all testing computers.
  3. Clone the image.
  4. Deploy the image to the target Macs.

Modifying Desktop Shortcuts

  1. In Finder, navigate to ApplicationsUtilities and open Terminal.
  2. Change to the desktop directory.

    cd ~/Desktop

  3. Create a file securebrowser.command on the desktop using a text editor such as pico.

    pico securebrowser.command.

  4. Copy or type the following lines:


    /Applications/ CASecureBrowser ‑proxy & aHR0cHM6Ly9jYS50ZHMuY2FtYml1bWFzdC5jb20vc3R1ZGVudA==

  5. Be sure to specify the complete path to the secure browser and the desired proxy option. Ensure the command ends with an ampersand (&). Save the file and exit the editor by pressing [Ctrl] + [O], [Enter], and then [Ctrl] + [X].
  6. Apply execute permission to the file. In Terminal, type

    chmod a+x securebrowser.command

  7. Close Terminal.
  8. Select the securebrowser.command icon on the desktop. The secure browser opens with the configured proxy setting.

Resetting Profiles

A user who has been advised by CalTAC to reset the secure browser profile should take the following steps:

  1. Log on as the admin user or the user who installed the secure browser and close any open secure browsers.
  2. Start the Finder.
  3. In Finder, display the Library interface (Go ➔ [Option] + Library) and then open the Caches folder (figure 16).

    Library interface with the Caches folder indicated

    Figure 16. Apple Library interface

  4. Delete the folder containing the secure browser (figure 17).

    Caches interface with the CASecureBrowser 14.0 folder indicated

    Figure 17. Apple Caches interface

  5. Restart the secure browser.


To uninstall a macOS secure browser, drag its folder to the Trash.