Mac Privacy Preferences

You can view and change your Mac's privacy preferences in System Preferences, Security & Privacy. You can see which apps you have installed that requested access to things like Contacts, Photos, Location and other information. You can grant and revoke privacy permissions to these apps. You can also read more about what these apps can access.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Mac Privacy Preferences.

Hi, this is Gary with On this episode let's take a look at the Privacy Settings on your Mac. To find them go to System Preferences and then choose Security & Privacy. Then choose the fourth section here, Privacy. Here you're going to see all the privacy settings for your Mac. This is the High Sierra version so if you have an older version of Mac OS it may look a little different.

Now you've got a list of categories on the your and the controls on your right. So, for instance, we can look at Location Services. Which apps have the ability to tell your location. It gets your location from figuring out the WiFi signal. Where the WiFi routers around you are located and then it kind of figures it out. That's how your Mac knows your location without actually having a GPS chip inside it.
These apps here, the ones that are checked, have the ability to know your location. For instance Siri knows it so you can ask Siri for directions for nearby restaurants and things like that. Messages knows it and it will put your location there with messages that you send to people. Of course Maps. You can understand why that has that as well.

Various other apps may not have that ability. You can control that. You can determine which ones do and which ones don't. So these are all the ones that have requested that ability. But only the ones that have a checkmark next to them are the ones that actually have been granted that ability. A lot of times when you install apps or use them for the first time they'll ask you whether or not they can have access to something like Location Services. You can say okay or no. You'll also notice here, for Location Services, you have this little arrow here which, as you can see, indicates that the app has used your location in the last 24 hours. So it gives you an idea of whether its actually using it or not. So some of these have not really been using it recently and other ones have.

Now notice this is all grayed out. If I wanted to uncheck something I couldn't because they're not active. The reason for that is I haven't authenticated. You've got this Click the Lock to Make Changes here. So I'm going to click that and then enter my password and now that it's unlocked all of this can be checked or unchecked here. That's true for the rest of these categories as well.

Most of the categories are pretty self explanatory. Here are the apps that have access to your Contacts. So when I installed the Skype app it asked to have access to my contacts so I can easily dial numbers by name. Then you look and some of them don't have any. But you may find that you have some for apps you've installed.

Accessibility is an interesting one because it grants access for apps to be able to control your Mac and do different things with them. So, for instance, Automator you're going to want maybe to do some controls. Move the mouse around, access menu items, things like that. You would have had to grant Automator permission to do that. Other extensions and apps you may have installed like say BetterSnapTool here or Dropbox or Magnet. These all, of course, it's their very nature to control things in your Mac so they ask for permission to do that. So not just any app can go and do things like move windows around on your Mac. They actually have to be given permission.

If you want to revoke that permission you can do so here. You also have the ability to add an app to this. So typically you don't actually have to use that because the app itself will request permission. But you can actually select one and completely remove it from the list.

Also, the last one here is Analytics. This is what your Mac has permission to send back to Apple. You're asked this when you first install Mac OS or if you buy a new Mac and you first set it up. Here's where you can actually change your mind and change these controls. Apple collects these things and they're anonymous so they're not really a privacy concern but it helps Apple, you know, figure out where there might be problems or where they may need to do improvements.

A lot of these have little buttons where you can, you know, click on them and get more information if you want. It gives you lots of extra information though some of them don't. Now the typical Mac user may never need to actually go into here and check privacy settings. You grant them as the apps ask for them. You can decide then and you really never have to go in and check. Even as a professional Mac user I don't have to ever really have to go into these privacy settings to check anything. Every once in awhile an app may ask me to go in and grant it accessibility privileges so that it can perform the task that I've installed it for. So I may go in and do that but besides that you may never need to go in here.