Originally this article was posted on Jamf Nation here, prior to the launch of Tech Thoughts.

tl;dr - Getting an "MDM-enabled user" and user channel for configuration profiles has become unobtanium.  Pretend that macOS is like iOS or iPadOS, where all configuration profiles and certificates are scoped to the whole machine.

"Managed Users"

A user who is "MDM-capable," "MDM-enabled," or in the Apple MDM spec a "managed user," can be achieved in a few ways:

  • First user created by Setup Assistant when machine is first set up via Automated Device Enrollment
  • A user with administrator rights initiates a user enrollment via an enrollment URL or renewing the Automated Device Enrollment with a profiles command
  • Mobile accounts (aka bound to a directory service) where during login there is a token registration with the MDM.

For reference, see Enabling MDM for Local User Accounts and from apple.com Prepare for changes to kernel extensions in macOS High Sierra

For a configuration profile or a certificate to be issued to a single user account on a Mac, the user must be a "managed user" as of macOS Catalina.  For administrators used to binding their Mac to AD and having this user channel, the change will require planning and changes.  (Useful related story: User vs. Machine Certs on MacOS

What Jamf Connect does with local user accounts

Jamf Connect is MDM agnostic and exists outside of the initial Setup Assistant DEP experience. It is creating accounts just-in-time after the MDM process of device enrollment is complete. The account created is a local account (not bound). Thus, per Apple's specifications, it is not a "managed user." Changing a local user’s MDM capability requires the MDM profile to be re-installed or re-enrolled, which can affect User-approved MDM status if attempted programmatically. Re-enrollment may not be possible in future versions of macOS, limiting this further. Refer to announcements from Apple made at WWDC2020 regarding programatic installation of profiles and future releases.

How to get a "managed user" and use Jamf Connect

An alternative workflow can achieve a managed user and use Jamf Connect for ongoing password sync. Use an Enrollment Customization (available with macOS 10.15 and above) to create the initial user account.

  • Set up Single Sign-On in your Jamf Pro server - Jamf Pro Admin Guide and select the option to "Enable Single Sign-On for User-Initiated Enrollment"
  • Create an Enrollment Customization containing the Single Sign-On payload - Jamf Pro Admin Guide
  • Create a Prestage Enrollment - Jamf Pro Admin Guide with the following payload options:
    • In the General payload, select the Enrollment Customization Configuration option for the Enrollment Customization you created with the Single Sign-On pane
    • In the Account Settings payload, select the option for "Pre-fill primary account information" where Information Type is set to "Device owner's details" and select the option for "Lock primary account information".
    • OPTIONAL: Select the "Create a local administrator account before the Setup Assistant" and create an administrator user which will unlock the settings for "Local User Account Type". You can make the first user a Standard user here and later elevate the user permissions with a Jamf Pro policy or the SAP-enterprise-privileges application.

The user created will be a "managed user" per Apple's MDM spec. From there, we can use Jamf Connect to keep that user's local password in sync with an identity provider.

After the user has logged in, scope a configuration profile for Jamf Connect to the target machine and run a Jamf Pro policy to install the Jamf Connect and Jamf Connect menu bar launch agent installer packages.

In this scenario, you may want to disable the Jamf Connect login screen as modifying the managed user in any way may lose the managed user state. Experimentation in your environment will be important. The Jamf Connect menu bar agent can be used exclusive of of the login option to keep the local user password in sync.

How to move an existing user to "managed user" status

Note: If a user is not am MDM-capable user, and an administrator wants to make them MDM-capable, run the following command AS THE USER ACCOUNT 

sudo profiles renew -type enrollment

This can also be accomplished with the "sudo profiles -N" command which is a direct replacement in the current macOS but subject to being deprecated in a future version of macOS.

The user being modified must be:

  • An administrator on the machine
  • Must interact with the System Profiles application to "reenroll" the machine via automated device enrollment
    • This means that if SSO or login to the MDM server is required, the user will need MDM server permissions for enrollment and re-enrollment.

The machine must be enrolled in Apple's automated device enrollment via Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager and must be assigned to a prestage in the MDM server.

Feedback to Apple around managed user and user level profiles

If you would like to submit feedback to Apple about this process, log into feedbackassistant.apple.com with your Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager Apple ID to tie the feedback to your organization's ASM/ABM account.  Refer to the following already submitted feedback assistant request:

FB9899085 - Feature Request: Allow for a local user account to become “MDM managed” outside of the context of initial MDM enrollment
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Contributor II

Jamf Connect is go to get it....

About the Author
I'm a technology evangelist with strong skills centred around Microsoft products and a passionate geek with big ideas to sell. Like many other people you know or have spoken to, I started out supporting users and answering telephones, I learnt a great deal, a little about technology (that people didn't like) but a lot about people - what makes them tick! These days much of my time is spent exploring ways of delighting users, going that extra mile to negate them needing to pick up the phone. Implementing technology that works with people is my love "Hey Mike, that device you gave me - it's changed my life!" that's what brings me smiles. Over the past few years I've spent pondering the work of IT and the shift to cloud, would I lose my job and need to do something more honest with my life? The answer of course was a resounding "nope!", cloud computing has reinvigorated a grey monosyllabic word in to a vibrant oil painting! No longer do we have to continue to follow processes written in hieroglyphics and continue to tread the same path of the last 15-20 years - we have options, lots and lots of options. So, from me you'd get a dynamic modern view of the world, I'd want to offer fresh ideas, challenge the traditions and bring about positive change that will delight your end users and save your business money along the way! Specialties: Microsoft Cloud, Office 365 , Enterprise Mobility Suite, MDM (InTune, Airwatch), BYOD,Windows 7, JAMF Cloud,Service Management..