Time Machine MenuExtra management

10.5.2 places a Time Machine menuextra in the menu bar for all users. Time Machine

We’re not encouraging the use of Time Machine in our organization. I’ve removed it from the default dock, and am managing the preference to prevent Time Machine from asking if you want to use each new external disk for backups. Users can still use Time Machine, we’re just de-emphasizing it. Therefore, I want to remove the Time Machine menu extra from the menu bar by default.

If you import the Preference Manifests in /System/Library/CoreServices/ManagedClient.app, you gain the ability to easily manage MenuExtras. But the Time Machine menu extra has not yet been added to the list of menu extras. No matter – you can edit it like so:


Just select Edit… from the popup menu and enter TimeMachine.menu instead of one of the pre-populated choices. You’ll see the little badge warning you that your entry does not match the manifest. That’s OK, it will still work. Setting the value to “false” will cause the TimeMachine menu to be removed from the menu bar at the next login.

I’m managing it once, so it’s off by default, but users can turn it back on if they want.

Time Machine MenuExtra management

23 thoughts on “Time Machine MenuExtra management

  1. Dan says:

    Hi Greg

    Let me rephrase. What I mean is…

    If you look t the other MCX settings for Menu Extras in WGM (specifically in the MangedClient.app bundle), they Menu Extrasare listed by their name (i.e.; Bluetooth Menu Extra”, noth Bluetooth.menu). But your customized MCX entry is called “TimeMachine.menu”, which is the name of the Menu Extra in the Finder. How did you know to try and use that name?

    The reason I ask is because I noticed the same issue you did when 10.5.2 came out, and after realizing that there wasn’t a native option in WGM to control it via MCX, I added a custom policy too, but I named mine “TimeMachine Menu Extra” – to follow suit with the other OEM Menu Extras. Of course it didnt work. I never though to register it with the actual name of the Menu Extra, since non of Apple’s presets use that convention.

    Im glad you figured it out. The last thing I need is my end users deciding to take an ad hoc approach to backing up critical data with consumer grade portable drives!

    Do you remove the TimeMachine application from your master image, too?

  2. I just sort of stumbled on it: Add any of the pre-populated menuextras from the pop-up menu – say, for instance, “AppleScript Menu Extra”. Then click on it again and choose “Edit.” You’ll see the name change to “Script Menu.menu”, which made me think…

    Another way one might have discovered this would be to look at the raw MCXSettings data stored in the directory.


  3. Oh – and, no, as of yet I haven’t removed or hidden the Time Machine application. We’re not disabling it — just de-emphasizing it.

  4. Jasper says:

    Why are you not encouraging that people make backups?
    What’s the point in that and what’s the danger when people do?

  5. Dan says:

    Data at my company belongs on SERVERS. Period. Have an importnat file on your Mac? Fine, but put a copy of it on the SERVER. I back my servers up to disk and tape and I have quarterly & yearly off site versions too.

    Put the task of backups into the hands of mere mortals and suddenly Mayberry is full of Barney Fifes!

  6. Jasper:

    We back up our servers. We use network home dirs and portable home dirs, so user data is on the servers. We can recreate the software install on any machine using radmind. So we don’t need Time Machine, and we don’t want to spend the time and energy to support it. People are free to use it if they want, but by removing some of the “in-your-face” visual cues Apple has added, we hope to cut down on the calls from people who want to know what it is and asking us for help with it.

    There’s also a non-trivial security issue: Time Machine backups are not encrypted, and since they are typically on a FireWire or USB drive, it’s easy to browse other users’ data. If a laptop user is walking around with a FileVault-encrypted home directory and a FireWire TimeMachine drive, we might as well turn off FileVault.

  7. I’ve found that by modifying /System/Library/Core Services/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/default.plist I can remove all default Dock persistent items, but Time Machine does not appear as a default item! Help please!

  8. Take a look at /Library/Preferences/com.apple/dockfixup.plist – this has an entry that adds Time Machine to user’s docks. Remove it (or the entire file).

    There are lots of ways to set a default user dock, any of which might be applicable to your situation:
    editing /System/Library/User Template/English.lproj/Library/Preferences/com.apple.dock.plist
    a script that runs at login

  9. Joel Donaldson says:

    Anyone figured out how to add the Keychain menu? I really need it for the screen locking ability.

    It isn’t stored in the menuextras folder, but rather within the Keychain Access application bundle. I have tried the full path as the key, but haven’t had success with that so far.

  10. I tried adding the full path to the com.apple.mcxMenuExtras managed settings. No go.

    I tried creating a symlink in /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras that pointed to the Keychain.menu item in the Keychain Access.app bundle. No go.

    What finally did work was adding the /Applications/Utilities/Keychain Access.app/Contents/Resources/Keychain.menu to the login items for all users via MCX.

    I think you should file a bug on this; this shouldn’t be this hard, and the behavior contradicts the help text in the com.apple.mcxMenuExtras preferences manifest.


  11. Deb says:

    Notice you mention you managed the preferences to prevent time machine from asking to use the external drive as back up. I’m trying to do this and was wondering which file and what entry did you use. I would like to be able to set this using Workgroup Manager.

  12. Boomer says:

    So, I can get this to remove the second time I loginto a home directory, but the first time (Creation) of a home directory, the icons still appears. What I am trying to do is remove it from ever being and option. Not even if it is creating the HD for the first time. Has anyone ran into this?

  13. Jeremy K says:

    Just found this thread, and gleaned some great info from it. I also just found this in the Workgroup Manager comments for Menu Extras:

    “Specified menu extras will be added or removed from the menu bar after user login. Standard menu extra may be specified by file name. Non-standard menu extras are specified by full path. Some menu extras will only appear if appropriate for the target computer’s hardware or software configuration.”

    I’ve tried adding:

    /Applications/Utilities/Keychain\ Access.app/Contents/Resources/Keychain.menu

    as a FALSE boolean, because we don’t want our students locking their workstations and leaving. However, it still doesn’t seem to remove it.

    Any other ideas for this?

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