Apple has always had a thing about privacy and Mojave goes further than previous versions of macOS by adding extra features and settings. This guide shows where to find them and set them.
Privacy and security have become major issues in recent years, mostly because of slip-ups by companies that have exposed our personal information to hackers and thieves. Sometimes in the millions. Hardly a week goes by without one company or another reporting that it exposed user data to unknown actors.
Some security and privacy issues are beyond our control and we are at the mercy of large corporations. Quitting Google, Facebook and other accounts just isn’t an option for many people because we rely on them too much, but we just don’t know when the next security breach will come.
If you use the internet, and who doesn’t, complete privacy is impossible and wherever you go and whatever you do, your activities are tracked somehow. There are a few steps you can take to improve privacy though and Apple is at least trying to maintain privacy for users of its devices and operating systems.
It is probably working harder than most companies out there and macOS Mojave has more privacy features than ever. A few new features have been added to the existing ones and here is a guide to the privacy settings in Apple’s OS.
1 Security & Privacy preferences
Go to the Apple menu in the top right corner of the screen and then select System Preferences. Click the Security & Privacy icon near the top of the System Preferences window
2 Unlock privacy settings
Select the Privacy tab at the top to see the privacy settings. Little can be changed until the padlock is clicked in the bottom right corner. Enter your admin account password when prompted.
3 Check System Services
There are several useful features here, but first select Location Services in the list on the left. It shows a list of apps on the right that are able to determine your location using macOS services. Clear the checkbox next to any apps that you don’t want accessing your location.
Scroll down to the bottom of the list on the right and click the Details button next to System Services.
4 Choose how apps find your location
This is a list of the different methods that apps can use to determine your location. Clearing checkboxes will limit location tracking. For example, you might want to clear the checkbox next to Location-Based Apple Ads. Do you want them knowing your location?
Click the Details button next to Significant locations.
5 Delete remembered locations
When location services are enabled, the Mac can determine your location and it remembers in the Significant Locations list. This will be a very short list with a desk-bound iMac that never moves, but if you travel with a MacBook there may be many locations recorded.
Click the Clear History button to delete all recorded locations, or select a single location and click the minus button below the list.
6 Control what apps can access
Location Services is a general setting that affects a lot of apps and services. Individual apps and hardware items are listed on the Privacy tab and selecting each of these shows the apps that can access your personal information, like photos, calendar appointments, the camera, and so on.
Regularly go through the list of apps on the left and see what is access the data on the right. Clear the checkboxes against apps that do not need to access the data. In the example above, two backup tools need access to Photos and they would not work properly without access. You have to judge whether to allow or deny access.
7 Share/don’t share with Apple
Like all companies, Apple wants to know what you do on your Mac and how much time you spend doing various tasks. Scroll down to Analytics and a series of checkboxes on the right let you choose what information to allow Apple to see. It should not contain any personal information or anything that can identify you, so is up to you. Do you want to help Apple or stay private?
8 Limit ad tracking
Advertisers always want to know what you do, what you like or dislike, how you spend your time, and what interests you. They build profiles of people and use these to target adverts designed to get you to buy stuff.
Tick the checkbox if you want to opt out of targeted ads based on your interests. You will still see the same number of adverts, but advertisers won’t know your interests or be able to profile you easily.
9 Safari privacy options
Not all privacy options are in System Preferences and Safari browser for example, has its own set of privacy options. Go to the Safari menu and select Preferences. Select the Privacy tab.
Two options at the top should be set: Prevent cross-site tracking and Ask websites not to track me. A website can choose to ignore requests not to track you, so this setting is not perfect, but good websites do respect the setting and it is better to use it than not to.
10 Clear website data
Click Manage All Website Data and a window opens to show a list of websites that have stored information about you in cookies. There is a Remove All button, but this clears the cookies from useful websites, like online stores and membership sites. They would forget your login details and other settings. If you have stored login details elsewhere, like a password manager, this isn’t a big deal, but do be aware of it.
Many of the sites starting ad… are advertisers and are almost always safe to delete. Select sites and click the Remove button in the bottom left corner.
11 Limit website access
Select the Websites tab and select Camera, Microphone and Location on the left. On the right are websites that have access to these items. Use the controls on the right to choose whether to allow or block them.
12 Add a VPN for privacy
Although macOS has a lot of useful privacy settings built in, sometimes you have to install a little extra software to improve privacy on the internet. For example, a VPN goes a long way towards hiding your identity and it gives you an anonymous IP address for example.
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