Clayton Burlison edited this page Sep 28, 2018 · 44 revisions

Details on Munki's preferences


Munki stores its configuration info in the "ManagedInstalls" preferences domain. By default, this info is stored in /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist, but you can also use MCX, configuration profiles, or /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist, or a combination of these locations with the normal defaults precedence:

  • MCX/Configuration profiles
  • /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ByHost/ManagedInstalls.XXXXXX.plist
  • /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist
  • /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist

Munki 3.1 new feature

managedsoftwareupdate has a new --show-config option, which will print Munki's current configuration. This can be helpful when troubleshooting the potentially confusing interaction between different preference levels and managed preferences.


Here's a sample /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

Supported ManagedInstalls Keys

(Scroll the table horizontally to see all columns -- GitHub's default view tends to hide the last column, which contains a description of the key.)

Key Type Default Description
AppleSoftwareUpdatesOnly boolean false If true, only install updates from an Apple Software Update server. No Munki repository is needed or used.
InstallAppleSoftwareUpdates boolean false If true, install updates from an Apple Software Update server, in addition to "regular" Munki updates.
UnattendedAppleUpdates boolean false If true, updates that declare no "must-close" applications, or have one or more "must-close" applications, none of which is running, and do not require a logout or restart will be installed as part of a normal periodic background run without notifying the user. (OS X 10.10+, Munki 2.5+)
(SoftwareUpdateServerURL) Deprecated string Catalog URL for Apple Software Updates. If undefined or empty, Munki will use the same catalog that the OS uses when you run Apple's Software Update application or call /usr/sbin/softwareupdate.
SoftwareRepoURL string See Default Repo Detection Base URL for Munki repository
PackageURL string <SoftwareRepoURL>/pkgs Base URL for Munki pkgs. Useful if your packages are served from a different server than your catalogs or manifests.
CatalogURL string <SoftwareRepoURL>/catalogs Base URL for Munki catalogs. Useful if your catalogs are served from a different server than your packages or manifests.
ManifestURL string <SoftwareRepoURL>/manifests Base URL for Munki manifests. Useful if your manifests are served from a different server than your catalogs or manifests.
IconURL string <SoftwareRepoURL>/icons Base URL for product icons. Useful if your icons are served from a different server or different directory than the default.
ClientResourceURL string <SoftwareRepoURL>/client_resources Base URL for custom client resources for Managed Software Center. Useful if your resources are served from a different server or different directory than the default.
ClientResourcesFilename string manifest or Specific filename to use when requesting custom client resources.
HelpURL string none If defined, a URL to open/display when the user selects "Managed Software Center Help" from Managed Software Center's Help menu.
ClientIdentifier string See Default Manifest Resolution Identifier for Munki client. Usually is the same as a manifest name on the Munki server. If this is empty or undefined, Munki will attempt the following identifiers, in order: fully-qualified hostname, "short" hostname, serial number and finally, "site_default"
ManagedInstallDir string /Library/Managed Installs Folder where Munki keeps its data on the client.
LogFile string /Library/Managed Installs/Logs/ManagedSoftwareUpdate.log Primary log is written to this file. Other logs are written into the same directory as this file.
LogToSyslog boolean false If true, log to syslog in addition to ManagedSoftwareUpdate.log.
LoggingLevel integer 1 Higher values cause more detail to be written to the primary log.
DaysBetweenNotifications integer 1 Number of days between user notifications from Managed Software Center. Set to 0 to have Managed Software Center notify every time a background check runs if there are available updates.
UseNotificationCenterDays integer 3 (New in Munki 3) Number of days Notification Center notifications should be used before switching to launching Managed Software Center. See Notification Center Support.
UseClientCertificate boolean false If true, use an SSL client certificate when communicating with the Munki server. Requires an https:// URL for the Munki repo. See ClientCertificatePath for details.
UseClientCertificateCNAsClientIdentifier boolean false If true, use the CN of the client certificate as the Client Identifier.Used in combination with the UseClientCertificate key.
SoftwareRepoCAPath string (empty) Path to the directory that stores your CA certificate(s). See the curl man page for more details on this parameter.
SoftwareRepoCACertificate string /Library/Managed Installs/certs/ca.pem Absolute path to your CA Certificate.
ClientCertificatePath string /Library/Managed Installs/certs/[munki.pem|client.pem|cert.pem] Absolute path to a client certificate. There are 3 defaults for this key. Concatenated cert/key PEM file accepted.
ClientKeyPath string (empty) Absolute path to a client private key.
AdditionalHttpHeaders array (empty) This key provides the ability to specify custom HTTP headers to be sent with all curl() HTTP requests. AdditionalHttpHeaders must be an array of strings with valid HTTP header format.
PackageVerificationMode string hash Controls how Munki verifies the integrity of downloaded packages. Possible values are: none: No integrity check is performed. hash: Integrity check is performed if package info contains checksum information. hash_strict: Integrity check is performed, and fails if package info does not contain checksum information.
SuppressUserNotification boolean false If true, Managed Software Center will never notify the user of available updates. Managed Software Center can still be manually invoked to discover and install updates.
SuppressAutoInstall boolean false If true, Munki will not automatically install or remove items.
SuppressLoginwindowInstall boolean false If true, Munki will not install items while idle at the loginwindow except for those marked for unattended_install or unattended_uninstall.
SuppressStopButtonOnInstall boolean false If true, Managed Software Center will hide the stop button while installing or removing software, preventing users from interrupting the install.
InstallRequiresLogout boolean false If true, Managed Software Center will require a logout for all installs or removals.
ShowRemovalDetail boolean false If true, Managed Software Center will display detail for scheduled removals.
MSULogEnabled boolean false Log user actions in the GUI. See [MSU-Logging]
MSUDebugLogEnabled boolean false Debug logging for Managed Software Center. See [MSU-Logging]
LocalOnlyManifest string (empty) Defines the name of your LocalOnlyManifest. Setting this activates the feature. Unsetting it means Munki will remove the file on the next run. See LocalOnlyManifest
FollowHTTPRedirects string none Defines whether Munki will follow all, some or no redirects from the web server. See FollowHTTPRedirects
IgnoreSystemProxies boolean false If true, HTTP and/or HTTPS proxies set system-wide will be ignored, connections will be made directly.
PerformAuthRestarts boolean false (New in Munki 3) If true, Munki will attempt to perform a filevault auth restart. See Authorized-Restarts.
RecoveryKeyFile string none (New in Munki 3) Absolute path to a plist file containing filevault credentials in key/value format. Used to perform auth restarts. See Authorized-Restarts.
ShowOptionalInstallsForHigherOSVersions boolean false (New in Munki 3.1) If true, Managed Software will show optional installs and updates that apply to macOS versions higher than the currently installed version.

Additional Notes


Munki normally writes its logs to /Library/Managed Installs/Logs/, with the main log written to ManagedSoftwareUpdate.log in that directory. Other logs are named "Install.log", "errors.log", and "warnings.log". If you'd like the logs to be written somewhere else (for example /var/log or /Library/Logs), set LogFile to the desired pathname of the main log:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls LogFile "/var/log/munki/managedsoftwareupdate.log"

The other logs will be written to the same directory.


If this key is present and set to True, Munki will call softwareupdate and attempt to install Apple Software Updates.


This key can be used to point to an internal Apple Software Update server.


This key (when present and value is set to True) causes Munki to never notify users of available updates. This might be useful in a lab environment, where you'd like updates to be applied only when no-one is logged in and the machine is at the login window.


Normally, Munki automatically installs and removes software if there are changes needed and that machine is at the loginwindow with no users logged in. If you have a need to do updates always and only with the consent of the user, including packages configured with unattended_install and unattended_uninstall, setting SuppressAutoInstall to True prevents Munki from automatically installing updates and processing removals.


(Added in version If this preference is set to true, Munki will not install updates when idle at the loginwindow, with the exception of updates marked for unattended_install or unattended_uninstall.


By default, Managed Software suppresses detail on what will be removed, instead showing a simple "Software removals" entry in the list. If you'd like Managed Software to show specific detail about what will be removed, set ShowRemovalDetail to True. This key has no effect on /usr/local/munki/managedsoftwareupdate, which always shows all detail.


Managed Software enforces a logout before it installs or removes software only if one or more items to be installed/removed requires a logout or restart. You can force a logout for all updates by setting InstallRequiresLogout to True. This key has no effect on running /usr/local/munki/managedsoftwareupdate from the command-line.


This key provides the ability to specify custom HTTP headers to be sent with all HTTP/HTTPS requests. AdditionalHttpHeaders must be an array of strings with valid HTTP header format. For example:

    <string>Key-With-Optional-Dashes: Foo Value</string>
    <string>another-custom-header: bar value</string>

One could use this to obtain a cookie in a preflight script and update ManagedInstalls.plist with the appropriate header. However, it is recommended that you use Secure Config for sensitive data (i.e. cookie) since ManagedInstalls.plist is world-readable.


Defines the name of a locally-installed manifest, typically managed/created/installed by some external management system.

This feature is designed for integrating Munki with a configuration management system like Chef or Puppet, and can be safely ignored by most Munki admins.

Creating a LocalOnlyManifest enables administrators to specify additional managed_installs, managed_uninstalls or optional_installs in a local file that augments those defined on the Munki server.

For example, if your Munki client is inheriting the site_default manifest and you wanted to add a managed_install without editing that server-side manifest, you could define a LocalOnlyManifest and populate it with the selected package ...

Define a LocalOnlyManifest:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls LocalOnlyManifest extra_packages

Edit the manifest:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

Save it as: /Library/Managed\ Installs/manifests/extra_packages

This example ensures Firefox remains added to the list of managed_installs, and GoogleChrome remains added to the list of managed_uninstalls. As with any manifests, the admin must be careful not to create contradictions.

NOTE: Adding additional catalogs to your LocalOnlyManifest will have no effect. Packages managed using a LocalOnlyManifest must already be present in the available catalogs.


By default, Munki will not follow redirects that are returned by the web server. The FollowHTTPRedirects preference defines whether Munki should follow all redirects or only redirect to HTTPS URLs. The possible values for FollowHTTPRedirects are:

  • none - This is the default and is the same as Munki's original behaviour. No redirects are followed.
  • https - Only redirects to URLs using HTTPS are followed. Redirects to HTTP URLs are not followed.
  • all - Redirects to both HTTP and HTTPS URLs are followed.

Secure Configuration

If there are parts of your Munki configuration you consider sensitive information (for example, repo authentication information, special HTTP headers, or even the Munki repo URLs), instead of storing those preferences in the world-readable /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist file, you can use a more secure location for some Munki preferences: /var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist.

Use of this alternate preferences location is completely optional. If you do decide to use it, make sure you fully understand the implications.

Munki uses Apple's defaults mechanism to store and access its preferences. Since the core Munki tools run as root, they can access preferences from this file: /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist as well as the "normal" /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist file.

Non-admin users of machines managed by Munki will not be able to access or read the contents of /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist, so this provides some additional security for possibly sensitive preference values.

Note: preferences defined in /var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist have a higher precedence than those defined /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist, so any preferences set here will override preferences defined in /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist! This might confuse you or other admins who think only to look in /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist and forget that some preferences are also defined in /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist.

With Munki 3.1 or later you can use sudo managedsoftwareupdate --show-config to show the effective preferences configuration, no matter where the preferences are defined (/Library/Preferences/ManagedPreferences.plist, /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist, or managed preferences).

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: the following preferences are required to be defined in /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist (or set via MCX or configuration profile), as the GUI portion of Munki runs as the logged in user, not root. Do not place them in /var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist, or you may encounter unexpected behavior from Managed Software, since it can't read the contents of /var/root/Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist:

  • ManagedInstallDir
  • InstallAppleSoftwareUpdates
  • AppleSoftwareUpdatesOnly
  • ShowRemovalDetail
  • InstallRequiresLogout
  • HelpURL

Editing Munki's preferences

Do not use a text editor or plist editor to edit preferences located at /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist or the equivalent files in /var/root/Library/Preferences. Editing macOS preferences in this way is likely to lead to unexpected or unwanted results, as your changes may be ignored by macOS's preference caching. Instead, if you must manually change the values of one or more Munki preference, use the defaults command. This is not unique to Munki -- the same recommendations apply to changing any macOS preference.

If you script the setting of Munki preferences, do not use PlistBuddy or any tool designed to manipulate plists, for the same reasons as above. Instead use the defaults tool or call the CFPreferences methods in CoreFoundation. (

The other supported way to set and manage Munki's preferences is to use configuration profiles. Be aware that Munki preferences managed via configuration profiles do not result in the values stored in /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist or the equivalent files in /var/root/Library/Preferences changing. This is normal, expected behavior for macOS managed preferences.

Using the defaults command

If you use the /usr/bin/defaults command to set values for keys in ManagedInstalls.plist, remember that values default to the "string" type. If you are writing a boolean, integer, or array value, be sure to add the appropriate type flag. For example:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls SuppressAutoInstall -bool false

See man defaults for a complete list of type flags.


Munki 3

Managed Software Center

Command-line Tools

Munki configuration




Advanced Munki

Related tasks


Product-specific notes

Legacy Documentation

Clone this wiki locally
You can’t perform that action at this time.
You signed in with another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session. You signed out in another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session.
Press h to open a hovercard with more details.