A primer in Profile Manager: The Server app

This is part three in a multi-part series on setting up Profile Manager to manage your Mac OS, iOS, and Apple TV devices. For an introduction to the series, have a look at last two articles: A Primer in Profile Manger and The Setup.

At the end of our previous episode, we completed the process of installing El Capitan and the Server app on an external hard drive. Now we’ll look at the Server app’s features and we’ll also get started with Server’s remote management features.

Apple’s Server (Yup! It’s really an app)

If you’re used to working with typical server software, you’re also used to the notion of a server operating system, such as Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012. Apple’s server app is a horse of a different color, which is to say, it’s an app running on Apple’s El Capitan operating system. Install and set up the app and you have all the features of a server operating system. Drag the app to the Trash and the app will detect that it’s no longer in the Applications folder and will turn off all the services. Re-install and open the Server app and you will once again have a functioning server. It’s so simple that, if you’re used to other server environments, it can initially be a little confusing.

(Note: While it’s outside the scope of this primer, if you want to see where the Server app stores its server data, you can take a peek inside your Server’s /Library/Server folder at the root of your hard drive. But, just like my grandmother used to say, “Keep your hands in your pockets!”; there’s nothing here you want to touch unless you know why you’re touching it.)

Inside the Server app

If you haven’t done so already, open the Server app and let’s take a look around. One of the first things you’ll see is that the app’s sidebar is organized into four sections:


  1. Server: Used to view and change information about your server, manage Apple AirPort base stations for use with your server, view and take action Server alerts, view Server logs, and graphical statistics for services you have running.
  2. Accounts: Used to create and manage user accounts and groups.
  3. Services: For managing the most commonly used services.
  4. Advanced: For managing less frequently used services.

If you don’t see any information displayed underneath any of these sections, move your mouse on top of a section title and you should see the word Show. Click your mouse button while you see Show and the services under that section should appear.


Services are active when you can see a little green dot next to the service name.


At this point in time, you shouldn’t see any services active. If any services are active you can turn them off, unless, of course, you’re working in an active server environment.

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