Active Directory For The Mac


Directory Utility User Guide

Important: With the advanced options of the Active Directory connector, you can map the macOS unique user ID (UID), primary group ID (GID), and group GID attributes to the correct attributes in the Active Directory schema. However, if you change these settings later, users might lose access to previously created files.

Bind using Directory Utility

  1. In the Directory Utility app on your Mac, click Services.

  2. Click the lock icon.

  3. Enter an administrator’s user name and password, then click Modify Configuration (or use Touch ID).

  4. Select Active Directory, then click the Edit button (looks like a pencil).

  5. Enter the DNS host name of the Active Directory domain you want to bind to the computer you’re configuring.

    The administrator of the Active Directory domain can tell you the DNS host name.

  6. If necessary, edit the Computer ID.

    The Computer ID, the name the computer is known by in the Active Directory domain, is preset to the name of the computer. You can change it to conform to your organization’s naming scheme. If you’re not sure, ask the Active Directory domain administrator.

    Important: If your computer name contains a hyphen, you might not be able to bind to a directory domain such as LDAP or Active Directory. To establish binding, use a computer name that does not contain a hyphen.

  7. (Optional) Select options in the User Experience pane.

    See Set up mobile user accounts, Set up home folders for user accounts, and Set a UNIX shell for Active Directory user accounts.

  8. (Optional) Select options in the Mappings pane.

    See Map the group ID, Primary GID, and UID to an Active Directory attribute.

  9. (Optional) Select advanced options. You can also change advanced option settings later.

    If the advanced options are hidden, click the disclosure triangle in the window.

    • Prefer this domain server: By default, macOS uses site information and domain controller responsiveness to determine which domain controller to use. If a domain controller in the same site is specified here, it’s consulted first. If the domain controller is unavailable, macOS reverts to default behavior.

    • Allow administration by: When this option is enabled, members of the listed Active Directory groups (by default, domain and enterprise admins) are granted administrative privileges on the local Mac. You can also specify desired security groups here.

    • Allow authentication from any domain in the forest: By default, macOS automatically searches all domains for authentication. To restrict authentication to only the domain the Mac is bound to, deselect this checkbox.


  10. Click Bind, then enter the following information:

    Note: The user must have privileges in Active Directory to bind a computer to the domain.

    • Username and Password: You might be able to authenticate by entering the name and password of your Active Directory user account, or the Active Directory domain administrator might need to provide a name and password.

    • Computer OU: Enter the organizational unit (OU) for the computer you’re configuring.

    • Use for authentication: Select if you want Active Directory added to the computer’s authentication search policy.

    • Use for contacts: Select if you want Active Directory added to the computer’s contacts search policy.

  11. Click OK.

    Directory Utility sets up trusted binding between the computer you’re configuring and the Active Directory server. The computer’s search policies are set according to the options you selected when you authenticated, and Active Directory is enabled in Directory Utility’s Services pane.

    With the default settings for Active Directory advanced options, the Active Directory forest is added to the computer’s authentication search policy and contacts search policy if you selected “Use for authentication” or “Use for contacts.”

    However, if you deselect “Allow authentication from any domain in the forest” in the Administrative Advanced Options pane before clicking Bind, the nearest Active Directory domain is added instead of the forest.

    You can change search policies later by adding or removing the Active Directory forest or individual domains. See Define search policies.

I need the ability to be able to look/delete/modify entries in Active Directory. What is a good application for Mac OSX? Pre-stage the account in Active Directory (AD): Symptoms: Trying to bind OS X to Active Directory. Active Directory and Centrify: Plug-n-play Kerberos for UNIX, Linux and Mac Aside from establishing a secure communications channel with AD, provide identity information and privilege management, in UNIX, Linux or OS X systems, Centrify takes care of the Kerberos environment. But you're trying to adding your Mac to the active directory (sort of), not adding the directory to the Mac, I think? They would be two completely different things, and the latter I'm not sure is possible, which leads to more questions I'll post as a comment to your OP. – kumowoon1025 Mar 20 '18 at 17:07. Integrate Active Directory using Directory Utility on Mac. You can use the Active Directory connector (in the Services pane of Directory Utility) to configure your Mac to access basic user account information in an Active Directory domain of a Windows 2000 or later server.

Bind using a configuration profile

The directory payload in a configuration profile can configure a single Mac, or automate hundreds of Mac computers, to bind to Active Directory. As with other configuration profile payloads, you can deploy the directory payload manually, using a script, as part of an MDM enrollment, or by using a client-management solution.

Payloads are part of configuration profiles and allow administrators to manage specific parts of macOS. You select the same features in Profile Manager that you would in Directory Utility. Then you choose how the Mac computers get the configuration profile.

In the Server app on your Mac, do the following:

  • To configure Profile Manager, see Start Profile Manager in the macOS Server User Guide.

  • To create an Active Directory payload, see Directory payload settings in Mobile Device Management Settings for IT Administrators.

If you don’t have the Server app, you can download it from the Mac App Store.

Bind using the command line

You can use the dsconfigad command in the Terminal app to bind a Mac to Active Directory.

For example, the following command can be used to bind a Mac to Active Directory:

dsconfigad -preferred <> -a <computername> –domain -u administrator -p <password>

After you bind a Mac to the domain, you can use dsconfigad to set the administrative options in Directory Utility:

dsconfigad -alldomains enable -groups domain <[email protected]>, enterprise <[email protected]>

Advanced command–line options

The native support for Active Directory includes options that you don’t see in Directory Utility. To see these advanced options, use either the Directory payload in a configuration profile; or the dsconfigad command–line tool.

  • Start reviewing the command–line options by opening the dsconfigad man page.

Computer object password interval


When a Mac system is bound to Active Directory, it sets a computer account password that’s stored in the system keychain and is automatically changed by the Mac. The default password interval is every 14 days, but you can use the directory payload or dsconfigad command–line tool to set any interval that your policy requires.

Setting the value to 0 disables automatic changing of the account password: dsconfigad -passinterval 0

Note: The computer object password is stored as a password value in the system keychain. To retrieve the password, open Keychain Access, select the system keychain, then select the Passwords category. Find the entry that looks like /Active Directory/DOMAIN where DOMAIN is the NetBIOS name of the Active Directory domain. Double-click this entry, then select the “Show password” checkbox. Authenticate as a local administrator as needed.

Namespace support

macOS supports authenticating multiple users with the same short names (or login names) that exist in different domains within the Active Directory forest. By enabling namespace support with the Directory payload or the dsconfigad command–line tool, a user in one domain can have the same short name as a user in a secondary domain. Both users have to log in using the name of their domain followed by their short names (DOMAINshort name), similar to logging in to a Windows PC. To enable this support, use the following command:

dsconfigad -namespace <forest>

Packet signing and encryption

Active Directory For Mac Client

The Open Directory client can sign and encrypt the LDAP connections used to communicate with Active Directory. With the signed SMB support in macOS, it shouldn’t be necessary to downgrade the site’s security policy to accommodate Mac computers. The signed and encrypted LDAP connections also eliminate any need to use LDAP over SSL. If SSL connections are required, use the following command to configure Open Directory to use SSL:

dsconfigad -packetencrypt ssl

Note that the certificates used on the domain controllers must be trusted for SSL encryption to be successful. If the domain controller certificates aren’t issued from the macOS native trusted system roots, install and trust the certificate chain in the System keychain. Certificate authorities trusted by default in macOS are in the System Roots keychain. To install certificates and establish trust, do one of the following:

  • Import the root and any necessary intermediate certificates using the certificates payload in a configuration profile

  • Use Keychain Access located in /Applications/Utilities/

  • Use the security command as follows:

    /usr/bin/security add-trusted-cert -d -p basic -k /Library/Keychains/System.keychain <path/to/certificate/file>

Restrict Dynamic DNS

macOS attempts to update its Address (A) record in DNS for all interfaces by default. If multiple interfaces are configured, this may result in multiple records in DNS. To manage this behavior, specify which interface to use when updating the Dynamic Domain Name System (DDNS) by using the Directory payload or the dsconfigad command–line tool. Specify the BSD name of the interface in which to associate the DDNS updates. The BSD name is the same as the Device field, returned by running this command:

networksetup -listallhardwareports

When using dsconfigad in a script, you must include the clear-text password used to bind to the domain. Typically, an Active Directory user with no other administrator privileges is delegated the responsibility of binding Mac computers to the domain. This user name and password pair is stored in the script. It’s common practice for the script to securely delete itself after binding so this information no longer resides on the storage device.

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  1. Windows Shares and Print Queues: Let the Server or the Mac Do the Work
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Are you Mac-savvy? Many Windows administrators and technicians have never had to support Macs on their networks, so the idea of suddenly having a handful of Mac workstations might seem really challenging. Luckily for you, it's an easier task than you probably think. Ryan Faas gives you a simple guide to supporting Mac workstations and Mac users within your Windows network.
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In any number of industries, there are companies or schools that have a handful of Macs. For the most part, these schools are dominated by Windows servers, workstations, and users, with an IT staff that’s competent at managing those Windows servers and workstations. But they often don’t have a great deal of experience in supporting Macs and Mac users. If that last sentence describes you, you’re one of the people that I’m writing this article for (and if you’re a Mac user in such an environment, you’re another). It isn’t a guide to all things Mac (and reading some good introductory Mac OS X user and troubleshooting books will probably be equally helpful for you), but it is a guide to how to support Mac workstations and Mac users within your Windows network.

There are two major sections to this piece: how to support Mac users accessing shared files and printers within a Windows network and how to integrate Mac workstations with an Active Directory domain. We’ll start with the easiest of the two first.

Windows Shares and Print Queues: Let the Server or the Mac Do the Work

Mac users almost always need to share files and be able to print to shared printers within a network. Whether they need to have their computers be part of a Windows domain is debatable. Often, administrators will find that capability more helpful than the users themselves. Luckily, access to the basic shared resources is pretty easy, and there are two approaches: have the Macs connect using the Windows SMB/CIFS protocol or install Services for Mac on Windows server hosting the resources and let the Macs access the servers using their native file- and print-sharing protocols (AppleTalk and AFP).

Letting Mac OS X’s SMB Client Do the Work

With the introduction of Mac OS X 10.1, Apple built support for the SMB protocol into Mac OS X itself (although it wasn’t until Mac OS X 10.2 that Apple included full and reliable SMB support). So, if you are supporting only Mac OS X workstations (particularly a small number of workstations) and your users are technically savvy enough (and most Mac users in Windows environments tend to be), you can simply rely on Mac OS X’s built-in SMB client.

SMB share points can be accessed using the Connect to Server command from the Finder’s Go menu or by browsing the network globe in a Finder window’s sidebar. When using the Connect to Server command, you would specify SMB as the connection protocol when connecting to a server’s IP address or DNS name (that is, smb:// When browsing the network globe, Windows servers will be grouped by domain or workgroup name as they are discovered by either NetBIOS broadcast or through a WINS server.

After a user has chosen a server to connect to, an SMB client dialog box will display—allowing a user to specify his/her username and password for the server and the name of the Windows domain or workgroup to which the server belongs. Needless to say, the correct domain must be entered if the user will be using an Active Directory account. Once authenticated, a pop-up menu allows users to specify which of the share point on the server they want to mount. Users will need to mount each share point individually. Once mounted, they will display and behave as a Mac share point would. To speed things up a little, when using the Connect to Server command, users can specify the path to a share point (or a specific folder of file within it to mount a specific share point; that is, smb://

Accessing SMB Print Queues from Mac OS X

Access to SMB print queues is configured in much the same way as an LPR or AppleTalk printer in Mac OS X. Open the Print Setup Utility and click the Add button. Select Windows Printing from the first pop-up menu. Use the second menu to select from Windows domains or workgroups, or choose Network Neighborhood to browse the entire Windows network (which might be needed the first time you configure Windows printing because this menu defaults to listing the generic Workgroup item). After you have selected a domain or workgroup, you can select from the listed servers and then choose a print queue hosted by it. Use the Printer Model pop-up menu to configure an appropriate PPD for the selected print queue.

Microsoft Services for Mac

Windows servers (from NT 4 though 2003) include Services for Mac, a pair of optional services that are not included in the default Windows server installation. Services for Mac include File Services for Mac and Print Services for Mac, each of which can be installed independently of each other, and both of which can be added when the Window server operating system is first installed or at a later point. Services for Mac are included in the Other Network File and Print Services option in the custom Windows components dialog box during server installation and setup. They can be installed after the fact by using the Add/Remove Windows Components button in the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. With Services for Mac installed, Mac users can connect to share points or print queues in the same ways that they would connect to such items hosted by a Mac Server.

Services for Mac adds the AFP and AppleTalk protocols to Windows 2000 or 2003 Server (under Windows NT, only AppleTalk installed), enabling it to provide AFP and AppleTalk access to share points and to share printers using AppleTalk. The AFP/AppleTalk file service needs to be configured globally for each server, and individual share points must be explicitly shared with AFP/AppleTalk. Share points can be configured as Windows (SMB) only or Mac (AFP/AppleTalk) only, or they can be shared using both file services. When an item is shared using both file services, it is effectively shared twice (once with each service). When Mac clients connect to the server, the server will accept both AppleTalk and AFP connections, but will prefer AFP connections whenever possible because of AFP’s greater performance.

Configuring Services for Mac and Choosing How to Authenticate Mac Users

You configure the Macintosh (AFP/AppleTalk) file service by right-clicking on the Shared Folders icon in either the MMC or the Computer Management application and selecting Configure File Server for Macintosh to access the File Server for Macintosh Properties dialog box, which includes three tabs: Configuration, File Association, and Sessions.

The Configuration tab includes four sections, most of which are self-explanatory. The first, Server Name for AppleTalk Workstations, is a text field in which you can enter the AppleTalk/AFP hostname for the server, which is automatically populated with the server’s NetBIOS name. The second section is where you can enter a Logon Message that will be displayed to users when they connect to the server using AppleTalk or AFP. The Sessions section at the bottom allows you to specify the number of concurrent AppleTalk and/or AFP connections that the server will accept.

The third section, Security, is where you specify how the server will authenticate Mac users. First, there is a checkbox, Allow Workstations to Save Password, which allows users to store their server password for automatic login (a feature that can be a security risk). The Enable Authentication pop-up menu enables users to specify how user passwords are sent to the server from workstations. The options include the following:

  • Microsoft Only: Requires a Mac OS 8/9 workstation that has a Microsoft User Authentication Module (UAM) installed on it. This is an optional add-on to the classic Mac OS AppleShare that enables the use of Microsoft’s password-encryption options. The Microsoft UAM is included with Services for Mac. Whenever a Macintosh share point is created on a Window server, the server automatically creates a Macintosh share point containing the UAM installer (classic Mac workstations can connect to this share point and run the installer).
  • Apple Clear Text: Specifies that passwords will be sent to the server as clear text over the network.
  • Apple Encrypted: This option specifies that passwords will be sent in an encrypted format compatible with the version 8.3 of the AppleShare software (requires version 8.3 or higher of the AppleShare client).
  • Apple Clear Text or Microsoft: This option will cause the workstation to use the Microsoft UAM if it is installed and will send the password using clear text if it is not.
  • Apple Encrypted or Microsoft: This option will cause the workstation to use the Microsoft UAM if it is installed and will send the password in encrypted form compatible with AppleShare 8.3 if it is not.

The File Associations tab allows you to automatically add creator and type codes that Macs have historically used instead of file extensions to determine file types. Services for Mac will create these for any files stored on a Mac share point based on the information on this tab. However, because Apple has included the capabilities for Macs to do this association on the fly for nearly a decade, the functionality is somewhat superfluous.

Active Directory Machine Certificate

The Sessions tab displays the number of AFP/AppleTalk connections, the number of open files and the number open files. It also includes a text box for sending a message to all computers connected to the server using AppleTalk or AFP.

Beyond the Service: Configuring Mac File Shares

To create a share point for Macs (which Microsoft also refers to as a Mac Volume or SFM Volume), you need to use the Shared Folders tool in either the MMC or Computer Management[ms]unlike typical share points that can be created in Windows Explorer. Right-click an existing shared folder and select the option to share it as an SFM Volume. This creates a second share point for the folder.

A Mac share point’s Properties dialog box doesn’t contain a Sharing tab because permissions must be applied to Mac share points using NTFS permissions (which means that they can be created only on NTFS drives). The Security tab is still present and functions the same as it would for any other item.

Active directory for the macro

There are a series of special security functions collectively known as SFM Volume Security on the General tab of a Mac share point’s Properties dialog box. The first function is Password, which allows you to assign a password to the share point. When users connect to it, they will see a dialog box that requires them to enter the appropriate password, regardless of whether they connect as Guest or use a Windows domain or server account. The second is a checkbox that allows you to make the share point read-only to all users who connect to it (regardless of any other permission assignments). The last is a checkbox to allow or deny Guest access to the share point.

Active Directory For Mac Users

What About Print Services for Mac?

When Print Services for Mac is installed on a Windows server, all print queues that you create are automatically shared over AppleTalk. There is no additional configuration that needs to be performed in order to make a print queue available for Mac users. Mac users cannot view the queue and manage print jobs as Windows users can. Also, it’s worth noting that Mac OS X 10.3 and higher supports configuring printers for use with Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). IPP is supported by Windows 2000 Server and above, although it does require additional configuration.

When to Use Services For Mac

Services for Mac provides a uniform framework for Windows administrators. However, the SMB capabilities built into Mac OS X make Services for Mac largely unnecessary. Services for Mac is extremely helpful if you are supporting workstations with older Mac OS versions such as those before Mac OS X and Mac OS X version below 10.2. In fact, much of the authentication options in Services for Mac are designed for pre-OS X Macs, meaning that Mac OS X only supports the unsecure Apple Clear Text password option for Services for Mac. Also, for further information, there are a couple of commercial products that do a better job of providing the same functionality as Services for Mac: Extremez-IP by Group Logic and MacServerIP by Cyan Software Ltd.

Another Alternative: Thursby System’s DAVE

For several years, Thursby Systems has developed a third-party SMB client for Mac users called DAVE. DAVE was developed before Mac OS X, and Thursby continues to provide both Mac OS X and classic Mac OS versions of the product. For situations where you need to provide support for Mac OS 8/9 workstations, DAVE presents an alternative to Services for Mac (or its third-party options). DAVE might be particularly attractive if you need to support only a handful of pre-Mac OS X workstations and don’t want to deal with a server-based solution. Thursby does provide a Mac OS X version of DAVE as well, which is best aimed at Mac OS X 10.0–10.1 workstations, though there is a small amount of functionality over Apple’s SMB client for more recent Mac OS X versions. Thursby provides a free and fully functional trial version of Dave from its website.

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