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Mac OS X Disable Unnecessary Services

How do I disable unnecessary services under Mac OS X to secure my Mac OS X based desktop / server / laptop?

Mac OS X use the following directories to start various services (quoting from the man page):

  1. /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ - System-wide daemons provided by Mac OS X
  2. /System/Library/LaunchAgents/ - Per-user agents provided by Mac OS X.
  3. ~/Library/LaunchAgents/ - Per-user agents provided by the user.
  4. /Library/LaunchAgents/ - Per-user agents provided by the administrator.
  5. /Library/LaunchDaemons/ - System-wide daemons provided by the administrator.

launchd manages processes, both for the system as a whole and for individual users using .plist files. Open the terminal and type the following commands to view directory files:

cd /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
ls -l
ls -l | less


cd /System/Library/LaunchAgents/
ls -l
ls -l | less

How Do I Disable Unnecessary Services?

You need to use the launchctl command as follows:

sudo launchctl unload -w /path/to/.plist/file
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/file.plist

In this example, you are disabling the Bonjour service, enter:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.mDNSResponder.plist
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.mDNSResponderHelper.plist


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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Shaun December 26, 2009, 12:12 pm

    If you don’t fancy using the shell then there’s a GUI tool called Lingon…


  • JThreads January 14, 2010, 1:17 pm

    How cannot like a shell if you’re visiting this site ;)

  • Mark February 12, 2012, 1:46 am

    If you disable Bonjour on a Macbook Pro running Snow Leopard, wireless internet dies you will have to remember what you just did in the terminal, and undo undo it to restore network access.

  • Roj Blake March 13, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Plenty of sites telling ‘how’ to disable services/daemons on OS X, but really not found one telling us ‘which’ ones to disable, some are obvious, most are not :(

  • Linda Holmes-Rubin June 29, 2013, 5:27 pm

    I am looking for a way to get rid of Office365 service. I am not at all technical, thats why I got a Mac. I never asked for this service, it just appeared after an update. It slows everything down. For a while it seemed to go away, again after an update, but after the most recent update, its back and slowing everything to a crawl. I am running Office for Mac 2011 with automatic updates and Mac OS 10.7.5. Help! I have tried moving it to trash, but get a message that I can’t trash it because its running. But I can figure out how to close it to trash it.

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