Home / HARDWARE / How to Put an iPhone or iPad into “Supervised Mode” to Unlock Powerful Management Features

How to Put an iPhone or iPad into “Supervised Mode” to Unlock Powerful Management Features

Supervised Mode is intended for organizations, but you can enable it on your own iPhone or iPad. Supervised Mode gets you a few extra features like hiding included apps, and always-on VPNs.

You’ll need a Mac to do this, and your device will be wiped during the setup process. Supervised Mode could be used to seriously lock down a child’s device like an organization would lock down an employee’s device, too.

What You Need to Know About Supervision

RELATED: How to Hide iOS’ Built-In Apps in iOS 9 and Earlier

If you’re in charge of a large organization’s devices, you’ll probably want to use Apple’s Device Enrollment Program to wirelessly enable supervision on your devices instead. We’ll be covering the manual method here, which anyone with a Mac can use to manually enable supervision on one or more iPhones or iPads they own.

The manual method uses Apple Configurator, which Apple only offers for Macs. Older versions of Apple Configurator were also offered for Windows, but aren’t anymore. There’s no way around this: You’ll need a Mac for this.

When you put a device into supervised mode, the data on it will be erased. You can still sign in with your iCloud account and restore an iCloud backup later–or create a manual backup with iTunes ahead of time and restore that backup afterwards–but you’ll have to set up your iPhone or iPad again.

First: Disable Find My iPhone or Find My iPad

RELATED: How to Track, Disable, and Wipe a Lost iPhone, iPad, or Mac

Before continuing, you’ll want to disable the Find My iPhone or Find My iPad feature on your device. This disables “Activation Lock,” which will otherwise prevent Apple Configurator from automatically setting up your device without your iCloud ID. Don’t worry–you can re-enable this after you supervise the iPhone or iPad again.

To do this, open the “Settings” app on the device, tap “iCloud,” tap “Find My iPhone” or “Find My iPad,” and disable the “Find My iPhone” or “Find My iPad” option.

How to Put an iPhone or iPad into Supervised Mode

To get started, you’ll need to open the Mac App Store and install the free “Apple Configurator 2” app from Apple.

You’ll be asked to connect an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple TV device to your Mac. Use the standard USB cable you normally use to charge the phone or tablet to connect it to your Mac.

On the iPhone or iPad, you’ll be asked whether you want to trust the connected Mac. Tap the “Trust” button.

After a moment, you’ll see the connected device appear in the Apple Configurator window.

Double-click your connected device in the window and you’ll see more information about it. Click the “Prepare” button on the toolbar to prepare the device for supervision.

Select “Manual” configuration and click “Next” to continue with the manual supervision configuration.

If you have a mobile device management server, you can enroll your device in an MDM server from here. If you don’t–and you won’t if you’re just doing this on your own devices–select “Do not enroll in MDM” and click “Next” to continue.

Enable the “Supervise devices” option here.

By default, “Allow devices to pair with other computers” is also checked. This will allow your iPad or iPhone to pair with other computers–for example, to sync with iTunes on other computers. You can prevent your iPhone or iPad from pairing with computers other than your Mac by unchecking the “Allow devices to pair with other computers” option.

Click “Next” when you’re ready to continue.

You’ll need to enter an organization name here to continue. This organization name will appear on the device, indicating the “organization” the device is supervised by. Enter anything you like here and click “Next” to continue. You can also enter a phone number, email, and address for the organization, if you like–but you don’t have to.

You’ll now want to select “Generate a new supervision identity” unless you’ve done this before. Click “Next” and” the tool will generate a new “supervision identity” for your organization. If you’ve already created a supervision identity–perhaps you’re supervising more than one device–you can select “Choose an existing supervision identity.”

Each supervision identity has its own security certificate.  If you’ll just be working with your supervised device on your single Mac, you don’t need to worry about this–it’ll just work with your Mac. Other Macs won’t be able to manage your device unless you export the supervision identity to them.

You’ll now be able to choose which steps appear during the first-time setup assistant on your supervised device. This allows organizations to customize the setup process for their users. For example, an organization could define these settings in a configuration profile and then hide the associated screens from the first-time setup process.

Assuming you just want to supervise your own device, you can just leave “Show all steps” enabled to not adjust the first-time setup process. Click the “Prepare” button and Apple Configurator will supervise your device.

Warning: Apple Configurator will wipe your device after you click “Prepare”!

Apple Configurator will now go through the process of wiping your device, setting it up, and supervising it.

When it’s done, you can connect your device to your Mac with a USB cable and manage it from Apple Configurator, creating configuration profiles and applying them–even if they require a supervised device. This means you can now hide those incldued apps, enable an always-on VPN, and change other powerful settings.

If you’ve supervised a device with Apple Configurator and you want to remove that supervision, you can just reset the device to its factory default settings. This will remove the “supervision” on the device and it’ll be back to normal.

To prevent users from removing supervision, you can use configuration profiles to lock down the iPhone or iPad and disable access to the options on the “Reset” screen in Settings.

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