Oh Apple Configurator, I will not be defeated!!

NOTE: In case you are unaware, Configurator is a Mac Only application. If you run your management of iPads with a PC, ignore this. ( or buy one Mac for your school. That’s what I did – we are PC only despite my Apple bias on this blog.)

As I’ve said many times this year on this blog, I’m more of a pedagogical user of software rather than a technician but being the resident Apple man, I was given responsibility for the iPad program at our school. I set up the trial iPads this year using iTunes under one shared account while we went about trialling the wonder tablet in our classrooms. At that stage, the Volume Purchasing Program was not available in Australia and Apple Configurator wasn’t available. Now that both are and we are on our way to purchasing a large new batch of iPads to add to our current sets, I have finally bitten the bullet and rushed headlong into being a Technician in charge of iPads.

I was disappointed in the lack of clarity in the Configurator manual and online help from Apple and I did a lot of fruitless searching for answers to my initial questions about Configurator. In the end, I decided to trust my level of understanding of Apple software along with my propensity to experiment and persist and just go ahead and try it out.

Initially, I was very happy with the basic idea behind Configurator and found it very simple to use until a major flaw, that unfortunately I’ve have decided to accept (more on that later) showed its ridiculous self.

For those who have not seen Configurator yet, it is set up to perform three functions:

  1. Prepare;
  2. Supervise, and;
  3. Assign.
The Prepare function was very simple to work out. You simply plug in the iPad/ iPads ( to start with I just plugged in a single iPad but eventually I did 7 at once; apparently 30 can be done if you have a big enough hub) and then create the settings and select the apps you want installed. Options for restoring from a specific backup or updating or ignoring the IOS to install on the selected iPad. You also can decided to automatically name the ipads sequentially by number if setting up a large number from scratch. I chose not to do this as I was reformatting iPads already allocated numbers in our records. The main setting to adjust is the profile.

To create a profile for a set of iPads ( you can create as many as you want – I’ll be creating a separate profile for the leadership team’s devices), you simply click on the + icon at the bottom of the window. This brings up the window shown below.

There are many settings you can manage. These include:

Passcode:( I chose not to set a passcode – setting this up for shared devices seems pointless, although it makes sense if setting up single use devices)

Restrictions: this involves allowing/disallowing camera/Facetime, Screen capture, Photo stream, iMessage, Siri, the Bookstore, App deleting and installing, and iCloud as well as restricting apps and media content

Wi-Fi/Global HTTP Proxy : set the type of network, password, network ID and proxy server. An improvement on iTunes, which although it saved settings through a backup restore, still needed the password to be entered individually on each iPad.

Mail Settings: this allows you to set up a mail account with all required settings, similar to the iPad set up but applied to all iPads seamlessly.

Certificates: Our system now uses zScaler cloud based filtering and web monitoring and this was installed by simply importing the downloaded certificate in this setting. A Configurator certificate is also installed by default when in supervised mode. While this seemed simple in theory, in practice, I had several problems with the certificate being verified after installation. I had to refresh iPads several times for this to take effect – Annoying glitch you need to look out for.

Two options that were more work than they should have been were the Calendar and Contacts. They require access to Calendar and Contact servers  instead of just syncing with the Calendar and Contact apps on the Mac. While I didn’t need to set up a calendar on a student iPad, I did want to add teacher email addresses to the Contacts app so they could email work to teachers if necessary. To work around this, I needed to save a vCard with all of the addresses and email it to the iPad’s email account. Then I could install the addresses on the iPad. I only had to so this on one iPad, save it as the new backup and then restore all the remaining iPads from that backup. Workable and unnecessarily time consuming when the Configurator app could have just accessed the Address Book directly.

Web clips can also be installed if you want to add links to school websites or other sites. At this stage, I haven’t tried that option but may in the future.

Other options like VPN, Exchange and other Enterprise level settings are there but probably not needed in most educational settings. I’ve read on some sites that some have a preferences for making multiple profiles for different settings so you can just select/deselect options if you want to make changes but I prefer to have all settings in a single profile.

Once the profile was set, it was on to the Apps. Again just click the + icon and you will be taken to your iTunes library and the Mobile Applications folder. Simply select the apps you want to install, and they will be imported into Configurator’s Apps panel. If an app is free, it will be labelled as free and can be installed on as many iPads as you want. If it is a paid app, a grey rounded button appears next to its name with a 0 in it. This is to signify it can’t be installed until you have purchased codes from the VPP ( Volume Purchasing Program ). Once you do purchase codes, you simply click on the grey button, locate and import the spreadsheet of codes and the number of codes show up on the button. Simple to use and understand.

Then it is just a matter of selecting the apps you want to install and clicking Prepare. The program then installs the most up to date iOS, all of the settings and apps while you go get a coffee. The time it takes depends on whether you already have the latest iOS on the iPad or not. Today, when I set up 14 iPads in two sessions ( I only have a 7 port hub) it took about 50 minutes to complete 7 iPads but they already had iOS 6.01 on them.

After I set up the initial iPad, I backed it up so that I could restore all the folder settings, addresses, Dropbox and FileBrowser settings to all the other iPads. This is an important step if you want all of the iPads to be identical. Once a backup is saved, you switch the restore option to that specific backup and all the other ipads will be restored to that setup.

Once prepared, you are ready to use the Supervised Panel. This is where you can make changes throughout the year to individual or groups of iPads simultaneously. You can remove or add apps, change profile settings, update iOS, make new back ups or change the name of the apps. The main benefit of the Supervise function is that when you remove paid apps from supervised iPads, the code is transferred back to the system and can then be used again on another iPad. This is a great function to have if you want to save money by only buying VPP codes for some of your iPads and switching them from one set to another.

The final function is Assign. I had no plans to use this function until I discovered the one MAJOR FLAW in supervising iPads. Once the iPad is under supervision by Configurator, it can no longer be connected to another computer in order to download photos or movies from the Camera Roll. This is a feature that is certainly NEEDED in a SCHOOL where one of the MAJOR FUNCTIONS is using the creative power of multimedia apps that can be saved as images or movies. What was Apple thinking here?

When I discovered this, I was going to give up on the SUPERVISED option and go UNSUPERVISED. However, this caused a lot of heartache. The profiles wouldn’t work, once an app was added, the code couldn’t be transferred, and worst of all, once the iPad was set up, you couldn’t add or delete apps through Configurator. So I had to make the compromise and decided we would have to rely on wi-fi transfer of photos ( easy ) and movies ( slow but possible) using our FileBrowser set up. Hopefully, though, Apple will change this flaw if it is serious about school use.

Anyway, back to Assign. With Assign, you can create users and assign them to groups and iPads. This meant you could check out the iPad to a user and when it was checked back in through Configurator, you could download work from any app that has iTunes Sharing as an option. Not ideal with potentially 100 different students wanting to access files on ONE computer but a last resort. Having said that, while I haven’t set them up yet, Assign is a nice way to sort the iPads into groups for each grade level, which will happen next year with more iPads being available.

One of the main reasons I wanted to use Configurator was to find a simple way of managing the iPads. Using iTunes meant a lot of work arounds to get the iPads set up this year. When I eventually leave one day, I want something that a novice can take over without too much hassle. iTunes wasn’t going to allow that to happen with 100 iPads. Despite its glitches and that ONE MAJOR FLAW, Configurator is an easy to use ( once I worked it out) program that I can explain to someone else.

I also have one gripe with the VPP. You only get the codes, not the app. You have to download the app from iTunes using one of the codes, then add it to Configurator and uninstall it to retrieve the used code back ( so I have read, anyway)Not good, Apple. Set up the VPP as a download store as well please.Fortunately, I had copies of all the apps already so I didn’t have to go through the hassle but for others it would be a pain.

I know there are other management programs out there and its Mac Only  but with Configurator being free, it seemed the best option at the time. I wish it would work wirelessly  ( apparently it can with Lion Server, which I don’t have) but overall, I think it is a serviceable program for what we will probably maintain in the near future. If anyone has any questions or  other tips or alternatives I’d love to hear them.

131 thoughts on “Oh Apple Configurator, I will not be defeated!!

  1. Hi,
    This is a most helpful post, thank you 🙂 My experiences match yours except you have done it already!!!

    I have a separate email address for each ipad currently. Can I keep this for each ipad if I use Configurator? Or will I need a separate profile for each ipad?

    Or do I just set up one email address in the Profile and apply it to all the ipads (assuming I want all student Ipads to be the same that is) I am a bit confused on this part

    Once again Thanks for the great post.

    • Hi Tony, thanks for reply. Hope some of it can help. I’m assuming you have Configurator so I’m going to explain based on that. The email set up will depend on the user case. If you only want the users to SEND email from the iPads, then it makes sense to set up a single account on all iPads. Assuming as a catholic.edu.au school in Victoria you are using mymail through SINA, I set up an email account called ipademail that could only be used on the iPads. The users will write their names in the subject field so teachers know who it is from but all emails from iPads will b sent by ipademail. For security purposes. No one knows the password, so can’t login to the account and th forwarding address is mine so anyone who wants to send email to the account will have their email come to me.

      For me, if you are going to SHARE iPads, you only need one email account, especially if you can set up a specialized one.

      If you are setting them up for individual users, it may be better to let them do it themselves through the iPads own settings. I’m investigating that next when I set up the leadership team iPads. Stay tuned.

      One thing to point out with setting up the account in Configurator- the port number for outgoing mail is the same as th incoming – not different as it suggests. just copy settings from the incoming. that worked for me.

      Hope that makes sense and help. Feel free to ask again.

  2. Great post I’m about to take charge of 17 iPads and no mac PCM to do configorator so at a bit of a loss as what to do to set up properly any ideas?
    Set up all with 1 email address? Or set up separate email accounts? Want them to be used by multi users in a secondary school so hey can all log in using own email to say google docs .
    Is a mine field for me as like you I’m setting up the project based on the teaching and learning not as a technician or ict expert in any way.
    Thanks for any help and good luck with your project

    • Hi Gary. My only experience outside of Configurator is using iTunes. With that I set up a single iPad with all required settings then backed it up and used that backup to set up all other iPads. I did that to set up the 35 we had this year. In terms of students iPads I set up special email as I explained in my reply to Tony. With the staff, I had a meeting and showed them how to set up their own email accounts.

      Mail set up is only necessary for individual user of the the Mail app. If you want students to use Googledocs, they can do that through browsers. They don’t have to use an email account through Mail app to access GoogleDocs. Having said that, if you do want them to send attachments, that is harder through browsers on iPads ( images can be attached but not files ). There is a dedicated Gmail app that may solve the multiple user problem. I’m not sure a I haven’t used it but may b worth checking out – its free.

      If you want to explain your basic user experience you are hoping the students to have in more detail, I may be able to give more advice. Maybe cloud based document saving is an alternative to email ( Dropbox/Google drive?)

    • You can sync Configurator with Active Directory. I haven’t tested putting email on at check out but it appears possible.

  3. Thanks for the post. You say that photos and video can not be copied from the camera roll on another PC due to using Configurator. Can they be copied from the camera roll when connected up to the Mac that has Configurator installed?

    • Hi, Nick. As far as I remember ( on holidays now so can’t check) the answer is yes. But it’s an annoying process to have to plug every iPad into my admin computer to get photos and movies. wifi option with FileBrowser will be our choice.

  4. Hi Paul and everyone. iPads in schools can be annoying. I started my work on these 6 months ago now, i have just finished year 12 and my school employed me because after school i would set up ipads and things and i thought i would share some of my experiences with them.

    my first problem came about when trying to apply restrictions, my idea was to set up a master image on one ipad with the restrictions in place. backup the ipad. then deploy that backup on all the ipads with iTunes. until i found out that the restrictions do apply but you can just disable them, its wired the ipad knows there is restrictions but you can use the enable button set your own passcode then disable them, very wired and anoying

    Problem 2: mail for students. these ipads are available for loan at the library and for each student to configure there own mail account to use is a nightmare. the soloution i have found is just to have 1 mail account and in the signuture line have “This email has been sent from the Libary ipad email account”

    Problem 3: supervise mode. just when you think its all going to plan you hop on this blog and find out you cant plug ipads in any other computer to move files accros. dammmmn.

    problem 4: VVP things, i dont use them, for one thing say you download 3D atlas whatever are you really gona use it that much. to me it just seems like to much work and effort what i do. is i have 2 profiles on the configurator. one where you cant install apps and the other to allow you 2. everytime i need to install an app i just switch it over start itunes let the new apps sync on the ipads , then switch back. If you do us this option click on Apple configurator, then prefrences and uncheck Remove apps apple configrator did not install

    problem 5: server. no point for shared ipads. i thought it would be nice to be able to send profiles over the air and control the ipads but its a waste of time. setting up the server learning how to figure it all out and getting certificates just so time consuming. my idea for the server was i thought i would be able to see them all on a map so i woudent have to install find my ipad on all of them. you cant with server so it really is just like apple configuator. in some sonarios it might be ok but it most i woudent think so

    problem 6: apple configurator and server another one of my ideas was to use apple configurator to enrol the devices in the server, but you cant, you have to manualy do it, as i said really to much work and not enough benfits.

    Problem 7: Web Clips. is there anyway to be able to customise and image easilt to fit on the webclips icon

    Normaly i dont write any comments or things but i thought it would be good to share some of my exprencies with you. i am really sorry for the lack of grammar as i am still getting use to the MAC laptop keyboard and i keep slipping eveywhere. i borrowed a mac from my school so i could get more experience with the product
    Great blog Mark 🙂

  5. One other thing about mail. i would have a webclip to the online version of the mailbox e.g. webmail so students can still download items but dont have to set it up using accounts on the iPad

  6. I have apps already loaded on my iPads through the App Store and another mdm software I had. Now I have a Mac and a apple configurator. Can I keep my apps on the iPads or do I have to go in through the App Store on the Mac and repurchase everything.?

    I tried configuring my 30 iPads and ended up deleting everything.

    • Alston, Configurator will only recognize and install paid apps bought through the VPP Store. To install apps on a iPad using Configurator, you need to purchase VPP codes for each iPad. It won’t allow you to install multiple copies of apps from a single iTunes account. This is against terms and conditions of App Store, even though many of us, including myself, was doing this in the testing stages and before the VPP was available. The VPP only purchases the codes though; you still need to download the actual app through the App Store.if you have the app downloaded already, you can use that to install with the codes. If you don’t have an app, you have to use one of the codes to download it. If you have free apps it doesn’t matter, Configurator will install them from any account.

      Hope that answers your question.

      • You can leave existing apps on the ipads and still use Configurator to install profiles. When your in the apple Configurator, top menu of the screen on the left The word Apple Configurator will be in bold, click that, In that menu click preferences, Once the preferences menu appears uncheck “Remove apps and profiles apple Configurator did not install” then close that menu. and now it should not erase apps you have put on before 🙂

  7. I must admit that I find solace in the fact that others are facing the same struggles with Configurator that I am. I am currently managing nearly 600 iPads through Configurator and have gone through all of the same steps you have described. Thanks for sharing. Have you run into any problems with 1.2.1 running extremely slowly?

    • Hi, Brent. Can’t say I’ve notice any speed issues. Would be nice if we were finding joy in our shared positive experiences rather than solace in shared pain! Apple designs great operating systems and simple to use software. They do struggle with the more complex IT management stuff though! 600! I’m a long way off that kind of effort.

  8. Has anyone out there run into the problem of allowing the students set up passwords on their assigned iPads which are supervised and then after not being able to back up the iPads. The error message I get now is a yellow triangle with the message saying “unable to install profile”.
    The only reason I know it’s the password issue is because half of the kids were prompted to enter a password and the other half haven’t used their iPads since the holidays.
    How do I fix this?

  9. I have been using Configurator for several months and have learned ALOT but still having several issues.

    One thing that was mentioned was that when you import the app to iTunes you have to delete it in order to get the code back. I have found that you need to keep the app in iTunes in order to update it in the future. The way around this is to download the VPP sheet, redeem the code in iTunes, delete the spreadsheet, then download the VPP sheet again and import the code from the 2nd download into Configurator. This gives you all of your copies in Configurator.

    One question I have is about the multiple copies of each app that iTunes tries to download. For example, I purchased 50 codes for iMovie. I redeemed only one in iTunes and then pulled all 50 codes into Configurator. Now, iTunes is trying to download all 50 copies and I don’t know how to stop it. Has anyone else encountered this or found how to fix it?

    Another annoyance is that even free apps have to come back to the Mac that installed it to be updated. I installed free apps on my teachers iPads but every time they update the teacher has to bring the iPad to me.

    Glad to find others are having similar frustrations!

    • Thanks for comment, Teri. So far I haven’t come across your first issue as i already had copies of apps from our pre VPP school account so didn’t have to pre purchase before using codes. It sounds annoying and something Apple needs to fix if its serious about the VPP. The multiple download did happen to me at the end of the year. Because it was only a few copies, 8 I think, I was able to manually stop the downloads but that will be annoying and costly to download costs as well. Apple has to get onto that.
      Are your teacher iPads supervised? My teacher iPAds are unsupervised and I haven’t had the update problem yet.

      • I have had this problem Teri. Just finished 30 iPads and have installed a lot of apps. While working on the iPads iTunes started downloading 850+ apps. These were all the apps we had plus the multiply copies of each. I have no idea how it started or why and apart from pausing the download process then closing iTunes I don’t know how to stop it. When I open iTunes the next time it begins again. The downloads are occurring in iTunes and are not affecting the running or Apple Configurator or the VPP store. The iPads I have are supervised.

  10. Mark, thank you for sharing your experiences! My 20-school, K-8 district in the Chicago suburbs has about 1,200 iPads. I manage them via iTunes. I am in the process of learning Configurator to, hopefully, make my life easier!

    We have had several conversations with the people from AirWatch, an MDM solution, but, dang!, they’re expensive.

    I’m posting to encourage you to continue writing about Configurator! Hopefully as I learn more I’ll be able to contribute and not just lurk.

    • Alison,
      Just returning to school today after holidays, with another 60 iPads waiting for me to set up ( not 1200, though!) I’ll write an update on my new experience.

  11. I just started using Configurator to configure my campuses 70 iPads. I’ve found it quite easy to use so far and refreshing to do my entire cart of 30 at once instead of having to plug them in one at at time.

    I have two questions:
    My first question was about removing user (student) created content after a number of uses to help keep them clean and consistent for the next user. Will I have to restore a backup each time in order keep them clean?

    My second question is about updating and installing new apps. Am I able to update the apps directly from iTunes on the Mac I sync all of the iPads with or do I have to have one iPad not connected with configurator that is clean and unsupervised to then connect to the app store to update/download new apps to then pull into configurator to then push out to all the other iPads?

    • David
      I haven’t tried it yet but Assign mode in Configurator downloads user data to your computer when you connect but not sure if it wipes everything like photos etc. We put the onus on the users to save their work to the school network using Fulebrowser and delete their own work when done with the iPads. There are risks sharing iPads. A couple of times last year students lost work because another user had deleted photos from the library while someone was still using them in iMovie.

      As far as installing/updating,

      Open iTunes and download all the recent app updates.
      Under ‘Supervise’ screen, click on Apps
      Click the + button at the bottom
      Sort by date modified
      Select the apps with the modified date that matches the day you are doing this.
      Answer positively on all the forthcoming screens (just confirming the replacement of applications)

      • mgleeson,

        Your response to David, please clarify… He asked…”My second question is about updating and installing new apps. Am I able to update the apps directly from iTunes on the Mac I sync all of the iPads with or do I have to have one iPad not connected with configurator that is clean and unsupervised to then connect to the app store to update/download new apps to then pull into configurator to then push out to all the other iPads?”

        With your response are you instructing him to do that on the ACU MAC or install the apps first on a CLEAN unsupervised iPad and then back the unsupervised iPad up to the ACU and then use that image to restore to other unsupervised iPads.. Thank you for your time. Take care.

        • mgleeson,

          I’m running into a problem where I have the free apps loaded into the ACU but when I select/check them and try to “prepare” an iPad I receive the message “Apple ID not authorized” prepare failed. The balloon information says “App installation failed. Authorize this computer in iTunes…. ? I’ve tried signing out of the iTunes App store on the MAC running the ACU but receive the same message… Is this really an Apple-ID mismatch or am I going about this in the wrong way. I’m trying to setup these devices unsupervised throughout the entire configuration process. Again, thank you for your time on this. Take care.

          • Mike Clarke: I had the same problem when I first set up our iPads. What fixed it is authorizing the computer through iTunes. Even if you’ve downloaded the apps from that computer, you may still need to authorize it. On the Configurator computer, open iTunes, and choose “Authorize this computer…” from the Store menu. Hope that helps!

        • If I understand your query, my instructions were for use on the Mac ITunes. Once you apply updates, Configurator will upgrade the apps on all connected iPads.

          • Thank you both for your timely responses! Yeah, rookie mistake on not authorizing the computer through iTunes… Geeze I thought signing in was enough… It’s still unclear to me if there is any correlation to the iTunes account used to authorize the computer vs. the iTunes account that was used to download the free app onto the MAC running the ACU. Is there any or can you use different accounts… just curious. Not that I’d intend to but I do have a few accounts I use in the Apple ecosystem so I might have used one to download the apps & signed in & authorized the MAC using another… Thanks again. Take care.

            Mike Clarke

          • One more post from the rookie… We are doing an unsupervised device deployment… So am I correct in understanding that there’s no benefit from or I shouldn’t install free apps on a clean unsupervised iPad and pseudo configure the apps prior to backing it up as up my ‘base’ image as the backup won’t retain that information (ie the free apps & app config) and hence won’t be restored when used to setup another unsupervised device? And that the way apps are included/restored using the ACU tool is strictly through their inclusion/selection via the APPS menu on the ACU tool during the restore process. If this is true what method/mechanism would be used to provide the settings I’d want the app to contain/retain/use when initially deployed to a device. Hope this make sense… Just trying to get educated. Thanks all ! Take care.

            Mike Clarke

          • Mike
            Our leadership team’s iPads are set up as unsupervised iPads. I found that challenging so my solution was as follows.

            I created one leadership iPad. I setup the mail settings for school use through the iPads mail settings and added a couple of bookmarks to Safari and set up Safari settings to work with our proxy system zScaler. I installed the apps through Apps in Configurator and prepared. Then I arranged the apps into folders, set up the File browser app for our network connection and backed it up as the default iPad for leaders. Each subsequent leader iPad was then created by restoring from that backup. When completed each iPad was a copy of the original. It worked for me, but apparently not for some commenters. I then emailed the ZScaler profile file to them to click on and install ( some with my supervision😄) which then set up the iPad for internet and network use by them. I did that because i found profiles created by Configurator forced the iPad to remain connected to the school zscaler settings and they couldn’t connect to their wifi at home.All they had to do was change the email address and user name and password in the mail settings to access their emails.

            Apple, it has to get easier than this!!

  12. we currently have 5000 ipads that are in a shared environment and we use Airwatch. The ipads are not supervised and we are constantly having to reconfigure them because students can delete the MDM agent, the wireless network, put a password on them….it really is a nightmare. Airwatch is a way for us to see via reports what’s what….but if there is no wireless available, the ipad cannot talk to Airwatch. Has anyone moved an ipad from supervised back to the ‘prepared’ type? THanks.

    • The price of Airwatch puts me off, even though it sounds like a good option. I have had problems using Configurator in unsupervised mode. For shared iPads its not the option. Shared iPads that need regular management should be supervised.

      • We have started using a combination of Apple Configurator to manage/distribute apps and the free Meraki cloud based MDM to assist in management of our 1200+ iPads. We looked at many MDM solutions, but found that the free Meraki MDM solution does what we need it to do. It allows us to remotely install profiles, restrictions, unlock devices, locate lost iPads (somewhat) and so on without having to worry about bringing all the iPads back in to have these set through Apple Configurator. It also allows to distribute apps, but just as in the other MDMs we looked at last year, it requires a password from the end user which is not an option for us. So, for app distribution we primarily use Apple Configurator.

        There of course are issues, such as Free Apps of the Day, Apps that are no longer in the store, etc but things seem to be running better now that we have moved to Supervision of iPads with Apple Configurator.

        • Hi msharpe
          We’re just starting on using Configurator and also just starting to use Meraki. I saw your comment and hope you can answer. I’m having trouble understanding how to use Meraki and Configurator together. We were creating an appleid for each ipad and letting the departments buy gift certificates to give the employees so they can purchase the apps they need. My specific question is, if I supervise an ipad with Configurator and use VPP codes to install apps, then does that ipad have to come back to the Configurator for updates or does Meraki manage the updates? How do the VPP apps update if they didn’t have an appleid associated?

  13. I’ve got a fix to the Photo/Video issue –> Photo Transfer App

    I’ve been using Configurator since September to manage 96 iPads for middle school. I rarely use my desk telephone, but when I do, it’s to call an Apple engineer about a Configurator-related issue.

    It’s true, there’s no easy, built-in way to get photo+video OFF the device. We just started using Photo Transfer App for this purpose. It’s available through VPP, and enables students to transfer contents of their camera roll to any computer (as long as that computer is on the same network).

    Congrats on the Edublog Nomination!

    • B of 96 iPads. Brilliant suggestion. Transfer Photo app works beautifully. Photos transferred very quickly while video still good (4 min vid in 6 minutes). You don’t even need an Internet connection, a wireless router sending out a signal that can be connected to by the iPad and computer with no Internet connection will work.

  14. Wow. First, great post. A wealth of knowledge. I am deploying about a dozen iPads in an enterprise, and frankly, I have spent enough time fiddling with Configurator, and reading all the cumbersome details required to set up individual E-mail / calendar / contact lists and the hassle with VPP licenses, I think I’m going to abandon Configurator and just manually configure each iPad and then enroll them in my MDM software.

    • Brandon,
      If I had only 12 to do, I wouldn’t be using Configurator either. And if its only 12, VPP is making no difference either. It has got better though, which I’ve mentioned in later post. All the best.

  15. hi, was wondering what other people are doing about getting photos and videos off configurator? using email over the DEC wifi network is tedious and often fails. Is anyone using anything other than dropbox, email or icloud?

    • Transfer Photo app. An excellent app. May not work through your school wireless (did not work through ours – filters etc) but does work if you get a router not connected to the Internet. Just plug in the router and use its signal as the common wireless signal required to transfer video and photos between iPad and PC.

  16. I just erased all of my ipads on the cart when I updated to the new iOS. I tested with a single ipad, using the configurator, and it worked – yet when I updated the entire cart all of the ipads (and student work!) were erased. Any ideas?

    • All I can think of is that you had restore from back up ticked or erase before installing checked in the settings. I’m not in front of a computer ( on school camp ) but recall those as possible options. That’s a real pain!

  17. Hello all, I have a problem with adding apps once the ipads are “supervised”. Anybody run into this? I work for a school and we are constantly adding apps. When i go prepare/supervise the ipads i must add the apps here and once i do i cannot add any other apps unless i unsupervise the device(ipad) and then add the desired apps to the prepare/supervise apps tab. this is the only way i’m able to add apps to the ipads. Can anyone help?? Thanks. oh and yes i’m using the same mac book pro to do this.

  18. Thank you for this post! I too have been frustrated by Configurator and its (lack of) documentation. I am sure I will be referring back to this post often. I concur that Apple needs to have the option to download apps from the VPP store – it’s otherwise a very confusing process!

    Right now I’m having trouble restoring from a backup with Configurator. I had created one backup and used it originally, then decided I needed to change some things, so created a second backup. But when I go to the Supervise tab, the 2nd backup I created is just not there. It’s not there in Prepare either, unless I unsupervise the devices, which I don’t want to do.

    • I figured out a couple of things that may or may not be helpful to someone. First of all, if you want to check or uncheck all of the apps in the list (whether in Prepare or Supervise), simply hold down Option, then click on one of them. All will be checked (or unchecked). I should have known this from other Apple programs, but stupidly went through checking them one at a time before I remembered.

      Also, holding down Option when you are in the “Edit Stored Backups…” window brings up the elusive plus-sign, which allows you to bring in backups that may not have been there previously – the answer to my comment above.

      One more thing… if you supervise iPads, then want to install/update apps after the initial setup, you may have to use a different profile, where the box that says “Allow installing apps” is CHECKED – what I did was create a second profile. Now to add apps to supervised devices, I check that profile, uncheck the one I really want for the kids (which does not allow app installations), refresh, update apps, then switch around the profile that is installed, refresh again. Some of the comments on this discussion thread helped me figure this out: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4098973?start=0&tstart=0.

      Hope that helps somebody out there who is as frustrated with Configurator as I am!

  19. Hello
    Thank you for your post. I’ve read your post, read a lot on Configurator and watched lots of apple video presentations on config. We’re getting ready to deploy about 70 iPads. So today was the big day to start deploying. I plugged in the first iPad (so I could create a back up of it). It clicked prepare…it started to update the iOS….then the little yellow triangle came up with an explanation mark. ‘Unable to obtain required information from device.’ Cofigurator then quit unexpectedly, quite a few times. So I thought I’d try it again…it quit again. Then I tried another iPad, and took off supervision, didn’t put any profiles and no apps were ticked….it quit again. Then somehow something must have happened..after four attempts and four iPads later. I could see them in the ‘supervise’ screen. Plugged in the four iPads and Configurator unexpectedly quit. Hmm….so I’m wondering if this is happening due to our server settings or something like that. I tried to google this problem, though not a lot of answers. I’ve used apple products for years, so this is quite out of character.

    • Elizabeth,
      Sorry to hear about your struggles. I can’t state for fact – I’m no technician, just a guy who works out Mac issues by himself – but it does sound like problems I had last year with our old proxy settings on the server. Do you have the latest version of Configurator? What version of OS X do you have? How much memory? Could all be issues. I still haven’t got unsupervised iPads fully worked out but I’m not having problems with supervised iPads – and I sync 14 at a time. I’d talk to an Apple tech and get advice on the server settings.

  20. Thanks for your quick response. Yes, I’m running the latest Mac OS X, on a Mac mini. The Latest Config, and yes we also want supervised devices. I too think it’s something to do with our server settings so have forwarded this to our technician. Thanks Elizabeth

    • I was getting this error. I believe it was because I had iTunes running in the background. Apple Configurator and iTunes are mutually exclusive, so ensure only AC is open. Also, I found with my Mac Mini I can only configure one iPad at a time. Whenever I tried adding multiple iPads AC would crash. Would love to find a solution for that problem.

  21. Thanks to all the commenters contributing to this post. I certainly haven’t worked out all the glitches and it good to hear different problems that I haven’t experienced so I can be prepared for them. We really need to get Apple to address these issues. If they are serious about iPads in Education they need to simplify the process. My school and many others who have talked to me in the area wouldn’t have a clue what to do if I wasn’t there for support. And a lot of the techs are only interested in their main jobs working with Windows Networks and PCs.

  22. I am fighting through this with my classroom set of 18 ipads, with my one mac, in a room with limited internet. I would love for it to work, but it keeps wiping out ipads, student content – everything. Some questions:

    1) I also want to NOT put a passcode lock on the ipads. In fact, I want to DISALLOW students from putting on passcodes. When I use configuator, it forces ipads to choose a passcode. How did you avoid this?

    2) I downloaded all the apps to the computer (free/paid, and uploaded the volume purchasing codes, but when I plug in the next ipad and hit prepare, it does not sync the apps I want! It doesn’t put any apps in. The only thing it does is make the ipad choose a passcode, which is what I don’t want (see above)

    3) I’m also having the “apple id not authorized” crap when trying to install the paid apps. I authorized the computer through itunes. I have uploaded the excel spreadsheet. I am authorized.

    This is such a headache. Like y’all, this is not my job. My job is preparing and giving lessons, grading papers, counseling students, engaging and exciting kids. This is a headache and a major time suck.

    • Sam,
      I’m performing my end of term upgrades on our iPads next week so will have a look at all the settings options that are a available in Configurator – I haven’t touched it for 7 weeks so its not in my memory banks to advise much now. I’m stumped by your pass code situation. Certainly hasn’t happened for me and I haven’t assigned pass codes either.

      As far as wiping out iPads and content, it sounds like you may have Configurator set up to restore to back up instead of not restore backup. This happened to me a couple of times when I was experimenting to get all the glitches out of my process.if you want to take screenshots of your screen with Configurator open and send them to me I could see what your set up looks like and see ho it differs to mine.

      Have you used the Assign Function for downloading students work through send to ITunes if enabled?

  23. Hi,
    I’ve had heaps of the same issues with configurator and even went to an apple workshop set up by a school in the district to help the schools who are not being supported through the DEC with the set up. The workshop was based on deploying iPads to individual students, unfortunately our schools don’t have the money to supply students with individual iPads which I can see configurator being best used for. My biggest issue is the inability to get photos and videos off the iPads. When I spoke to apple their solution was to have each student join the cloud..this again would work if they were being assigned individually but my bank are being used by the whole school. I have decided to set up one gmail account as you suggested just for outgoing mail so teachers and students can email their work to themselves. I set up the settings under mail in configurator and I can receive mail but my outgoing wont work..any suggestions on why? My settings are exactly the same as incoming? Thanks for this blog btw it’s been great knowing I’m not the only one pulling my hair out!

    • Kimbo,
      That sounds like a typical response by Apple – they really want the iPad to be an individual tool, not a shared one, so their solution will always be ‘the Cloud ( meaning iCloud of course).
      Anyway, Tony above had the same issue with outgoing mail as you. I sent him some screenshots of my settings that work. I’ll send them to you too. Hopefully they will fix your problem.

  24. Hi Mark,
    Have you figured out how to block creation of Mail account on your iPads (using Configurator?)

    I have a use case where my students would be using an iPad to collect web-based surveys, but don’t want them to start using the device to set up their personal Hotmail/GMail, etc. I know you could do that with Restrictions under “Accounts” (Disallow changes to prevent adding, removing or modifying accounts in Mail, Contacts, Calendars), but how do you automate this?


  25. Thanks for your response. We have break right now so I’m trying to forget the iPad nightmare that awaits me back home. If I remember correctly, the checkbox of whether to revert to latest saved backup is checked and greyed out, so I can’t uncheck it. I will send screenshots when I get back to New York.

    Another problem that makes me think something is actually wrong is that when I told configuator to assign numbers sequentially, it gives every iPad I plug in the number “1” – as though it doesn’t recognize that there was a different iPad plugged in a minute ago that it also named “1”. I wonder if I screwed something up in the month that I had the iPads and had no Mac (thus no configuator): I set them all up attached to one apple id, which I then used as my volume purchasing account.

    Dunno. Thanks again for your response. I will check back soon.

    • Re your sequential numbering problem, a potential cause is not having a space between the name and the number. I wanted to label my iPads as “iPad #1”, “iPad #2” etc but because there was not space before the number Configurator didn’t understand it was a number. There doesn’t appear to be a way around this – I just labelled mine “iPad # 1” etc.

  26. I am so glad I found this blog – it’s great!

    We also want to set up an email to send from the ipads but not receive – could you also send me the screenshot of your working settings?

    Also, I managed to configure our ipads ok but then when I went back to them to update, I get the error message “can’t install app”… and then I tried with some iPods and prepared them but came with same error message. I’ve tried a different profile, I’ve tried preparing with no apps – it works but then when I try to sync the apps the error returns…. any ideas?

    And, finally, does anyone have authentication issues from within the NSW DEC?… the ipads will continually ask for authentication when syncing an app or connecting to the wifi, even though we have set a username and password in the settings.

    Thanks fro your help

    • Sarah, what proxy server do you use in NSW? We use zScaler and there were a few setting adjustments we need to make for everything to work as planned.
      Can’t install app message often comes up if you have a paid app unknowingly checked in the list and you have run out of codes??
      I’ll send that screenshot when I find it.

  27. hi, I’m not sure what type of proxy server…
    we haven’t bought any apps yet… I sort of fixed the problem….
    It’s frustrating that the process for configurator is to install apps and then install profiles…

    so… I had to uncheck all the apps and apply
    check “install apps” and “remove apps” in the profile restrictions and apply
    recheck the apps I wanted and apply
    uncheck the “install apps” and “remove apps” in the profile restrictions and apply.

    there must be a better way! so each time i update or add an app I would have to go through this process again.

    still trying to set up a sending mail account on them all as well.

  28. Hey Sarah,
    Iv experienced all the same issues, it’s our NSW DEC proxy. The notifications on apps is very annoying, you don’t need to login you can just cancel the notification and it will still work. I have managed to get my dec email to send by adding it as a profile but I don’t want students accessing it in all emails, unfortunately Marks screen shots didn’t work for my generic gmail I made. Does anyone know the settings for outgoing gmail using the nsw dec proxy server with dec wireless? Incoming works fine.

    • Sorry to hear email is still a problem. Doesn’t NSW DEC have a resident help desk expert with knowledge of this? They really should! Vic CEO has been a real help for us.

  29. Ha! I should post the numerous email responses I have had from them since purchasing the iPads. Their response is always the same ‘we currently do not support iPads’ The computer coordinators in my area are just trying to get as much information off eachother as possible or pay for outside contractors.

    • Have been using Configurator this year. Not having too many problems, mostly just trial and error.
      i am also having a few issues due to NSW DEC proxy. I don’t have the authentication problem you are having but also no help from ICT.
      I have set up individual email accounts on iPads so I can see where the email comes from (we have 40 iPads shared by all students) but can’t send emails. However I have linked all the email addresses to a couple of masters on my iPad and can email from my iPad using the email accounts??? Trying to work out why?
      Am currently trying to set up a profile using Configurator to allow use of Apple TV with DEC proxy. Will let you know how I go if you are interested.

      Getting work off the iPads is our biggest issue. Would be interested in setting up or joining a NSW DEC IPad users group to discuss issues related to NSW DEC and the proxy. Contact me if your interested.

      Can I please get a copy of that screen shot for email. Will try it out and see if I can find a solution.

      • Kirsty,
        Are you only interested in a free solution for getting work off iPads?
        If school is willing to pay $2.50 per copy using VPP pricing, our school is very successfully using the app FileBrowser to transfer photos, videos, ebooks, documents to and from iPads to our school network. Required next to no set up – just typing in the server name did the job – an our students and teachers are confidently transferring work back and forward between iPad and network. Has been worth the money spent. consider the iPads being a couple of dollars more and you have a viable network solution. I have written a post about it on my blog. Search FileBrowser.

        I’ll have a look for that email screenshot. I did it a while ago.

        • Thanks. Have been looking into that as I was reading your updated blog. Looks good. Think this will definately be my next step. Do i need to activate WebDAV for this to work? WebDAV was going to be my next option. Edmodo too slow on our network, transferring and sharing camera roll via Bluetooth working well, transferring using wireless having issues as it states my iPad not on same network?? But students can share on their iPads.
          Just a novice but learning fast.

          Great post, great comments and support.

          • Don’t need WebDAV. Filebrowser connects purely across school network but only on site on your wireless network. If you need an example of setup, I can send you a screenshot. It’s not in my blogpost as it was for my staff and students to learn how to use it, not set it up. I didn’t have to do anything but add our server to the app. I wouldn’t have thought our tech guy had anything special on our server. I did it without him being involved. It does of course rely on wireless and big video files can take a while but generally single files or a few photos transfer quite quickly.

            Another alternative (free) for sending files between iPads is Instashare. I have a post on that too.

  30. Oh I am getting so close! A 2.5 hour phone call with a very nice guy in apple’s tech support helped a lot. Now I have all my apps on all my ipads!

    Now I want to fine-tune and tweak everything to perfection. Here are my questions:

    1 – You made it sound as if you have certain logins (specifically dropbox) saved and applied as part of a profile or back up. This is possible? How can I do this?

    2 – Something about backups is not making sense to me still – I have my “perfect ipad” set up the way I want, and backed up. Now when I want to install an app update I can download it to the computer, but how do I make that update part of my perfect ipad?

    3 – When I do things like update apps, I do not want my students’ data erased – so I want apps and settings to update to the new profile/backup, but I do not want my students’ essays erased from Pages, and I don’t even want their pictures that they downloaded and set as wall paper to revert. Is this possible?

    4 – Some of the ipads are demanding the apple id password every time they are turned on – others are not. Can I just store that password as part of the profile? It’s a complex password, annoying to type, and I don’t want the students to know it. I think it’s because some of them were set up to back up to icloud and others weren’t. But when I look at the settings for my perfect ipad and the annoying ipads, they look the same. Any ideas?

    Thanks again for your help.

  31. I have been “trying” to use Configurator since February 2012, and let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy. My first frantic calls to Apple were met with the responses, “You need help with what?” and “What’s Configurator?” Finally, someone in the Enterprise Division was nice enough to give me the direct phone line to that department. 🙂 So, if you’re new to Configurator and need to call Apple, ask for the Enterprise Department right away.

    I think I must have set a world record for contacting the Enterprise staff. Too often, they would take screen shots of the problems and forward them to their programmers to try and get problems resolved. Like many of you have already stated, I wondered why this couldn’t be easier. And one of the Apple-Happy (think Fan Boy) guys I spoke with–after two or three hours of frustrating attempts to fix a problem–had the gall to say, “You know, this program was originally designed to work with gift certficates. They’ve really done a great job making it work with the VPP!” Of course, this is the same guy who thought that Configurator had settings that would keep users from resetting them.

    So thanks for letting me vent a bit. The process has been very frustrating for me, although I have had moments where it has worked like a charm. All I can say right now is that I have discovered several “work arounds” for my particular problems. I don’t know if they will help anyone else, but, maybe…

    First, I have found that if I run the iOS update in Prepare mode without supervision, without profiles, and without apps–just by itself– THEN prepare it again with the other stuff I want, it seems to be happier.

    Next, I have discovered that instead of going back to iTunes to delete apps and then re-download them, once I have downloaded an app into iTunes, I go into Configurator, then re-download the spreadsheet and use that new spreadsheet to download the app into Configurator.

    I don’t download ANY free apps using Configurator. Any free apps are side-loaded by the users. That way, they don’t need to bring iPads back to me just to get those apps updated… they can do that themselves.

    If I think of any others, I’ll pass them along.
    Great to have the company of others with issues and to finally have a place to go to try and get answers other than Apple.

  32. Wow, what a great blog! Thanks so much everyone for posting and sharing all your experiences. I’m brand new to Apple Configurator, and still getting my head around how it all works. I agree that Apple has not really provided anything useful in the way of a manual, which is frustrating. However after some online reading and research, I managed to get my “master iPad” set up using AC this afternoon (a feat in itself!), rearranged all the apps into their folders for our classes, but then only got as far as creating a back up of this “master” to be used on our other iPads. I connected a second iPad and attempted to prepare this, checked for supervision to be turned on and clicked ‘Prepare’ — but it just froze. I had to close AC more than once and then discovered that it would only prepare this second device if I turned off supervision — which I don’t want to do as these iPads are to be used and shared among student cohorts. Does anyone know why this is happening? Is it because these are not brand new devices? I’ve only recently started in this role and have been given the task of setting up our School’s iPads which were purchased last year and I think manually set up (ie using iTunes, not the Configurator). I only managed to set up the “master” by first restoring factory default settings. Does this mean I have to restore factory default settings for each individual iPad before I can prepare and supervise them? Isn’t this what the prepare stage meant to do?

  33. I’ve been trying to use Apple Configurator to manage my iPads after use by a class – and it seemed to be working fine, but ever since I attempted to update 1 app, nothing has worked. I used to restore a backup each time to wipe out user generated content and changes, but that no longer works. I MUST be able to wipe the iPads of any user generated changes and content after each class’s use. If Apple Configurator cannot do this – what product out there can?

  34. Folks,

    Can someone recommend a multi-port (6+ ports) USB hub to use with the ACU MAC station to configure multiple iPads at once. I bought a cheesy Targus 7-Port USB Desktop Hub (Model # ACH115USZ) that apparently doesn’t supply enough power to the iPad via the USB as I receive a message indicating “not enough power” and the devices don’t show up in the ACU utility to allow us to configure them. Thanks for your time. Take care.

  35. I’ve only been using Apple Configurator for a few months. After I supervised 100+ iPads and shipped them across the states to schools I got a new MBP. I’ve done some research on how to restore Apply Configurator data but the direction I’ve been given doesn’t seem available from my Time Machine Backup (The steps where to open your TM backup and hit Shift+CMD+G and type ~/Library/Containers/ to find the com.Apple.Configurator. and restore that. The steps also mentioned recovering contents from ~/Library/Keychains to restore.) I was able to find these locations in my backup the first time I looked but the “Restore” button was grayed out. So I got out and went back into TM, did the search, and was told the location couldn’t be found….. I haven’t formatted my old MAC and don’t want to restore an entire backup unless that’s my only hope. Today I spent countless of hours setting this new machine up from scratch because there was just too much crap I didn’t need on the old machine. Someone please help. Cheers!

    • Michael –
      I recently switched from a Mac Mini to a new MacBook Pro to take over the supervision of 100+ iPads, and I found it easiest to move the configuration files with a USB flash drive. I found the Library folders on the Mini by using Finder, then clicking Go on the top menu, then Go to Folder…, then I entered “~/Library/Container”. I copied the needed files from the Mini to my flash drive (required a 16GB flash drive in my case), then did the same steps to find the Container folder on the MBP so I could paste in the copied folders.
      The files I moved are the entire ~/Library/Container/com.apple.configurator folder (careful, there’s another at a lower level), the ~/Library/Keychains folder, and ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.configurator.plist. I’ve also seen recommendations to copy the ~/Library/Application Support folder, but it may depend on the operating system that’s on the older Mac.
      I may have copied over more files than absolutely needed, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have too much, whereas it can definitely hurt to be missing something! Once I copied over all the files (and remembered to authorize the new MBP in iTunes!), I was able to convince the iPads to let it supervise them.

      • Amy- What do you mean by “(careful, there’s another at a lower level)” do you mean another folder named “com.apple.configurator”. Are you saying there is another folder needed?
        I recently tried this because my MacBook drive became unbootable at the same time we lost the time machine drive. We have thousands of dollars of VPP licenses were in danger of loosing. I can still only access the drive old as an external USB.
        My try failed though here is the list of folders I have heard recomended
        ~/Library/Application Support – I did not have this one from your list
        /var/db/lockdown – I did also have this one from apple documentation

  36. I can only agree with Michael. I also bought a new MBP and thought/hoped that would be the solution.. but as the man said several hours later I’m still in a puzzel with old back-ups.

    • Michael and Lee, as I haven’t got to this predicament, I’m not sure what to do. My only question is did you have a full Time Machine backup or just a partial one. I only ask because I recently bought a new iMac after my 7 year old one died and I restored the new one to an exact copy of my old one without problems. Everything I backed up is on my new Mac including settings and preferences. I’m guessing you went to this forum article – http://support.apple.com/kb/ht5194. Sorry I can’t help.

  37. Hey, thanks for your post! I have managed to work it out. Turned out to be something very simple. As I mentioned before, the iPads had been ‘set up’ prior to me starting work there. All the iPads had restrictions enabled and were not allowed to install apps. Once I enabled this manually, I was able to supervise the devices, install the apps needed and back them up to the master. I just had to then apply a profile which restricted access to installing apps, so that they could be distributed among our students.

  38. Mr. G.
    WOW! what a terrific support group for those of us venturing into the Mac world. We are a small rural school in SA with an iPad for every student. Our internet is poor at best and using wifi to install apps is impossible, thus I have begun using multi ports and have ran into a problem. (I am using MBP and they are iPad 2 and iPad 3 models) When I am ready to install new apps for the respective classes, the APP tab in the iPads is NOT allowing me to install the new apps. What I have to do is restore each iPad and then it will allow me to install the iPads. It is too time consuming and I am hoping there is just a setting I need to change.
    Second some of the iPads built in email app is struggling to connect with the email exchange (which now runs through a new LearnLink system). Some iPads connect immediately but others don’t. I’ve contacted the central IT department and they had to change a setting on their end, which I don’t have access to, which was supposed to fix the problem however it hasn’t. Any ideas? I’m happy to provide more information.

    I would also love to hear how others are using iPads to achieve maximum student achievements.

  39. This was fruit among the ‘fruitless’ searches you refer to… I’m brand new at this – have a cart of 30 ipads, a cart at my campus which not yet wireless, and a filter at my campus which blocks the iTunes store. This is ‘supposed’ to be worked out by fall, but I’ve been assigned to create and execute trainings on the ipads for the staff and how they can use them in classrooms. In addition to that and so that I can do that, I am in charge of managing the cart. So, that leaves me at home or a local wi-fi location with 3 or 4 ipads hooked into my Macbook and trying to learn as I go. Any other sites you’ve found useful or suggestions you have would be grately appreciated. I’m a novice who had not even ever used an Apple product prior to this experience.

  40. This is a great post! Thank-you for this post. However, I am having a an issue and hoping you can help me. I am working on a cart of 30… The cart has previously been used on apple configurator.. I am not sure what has been done, but is there anyway to restart over… I also have another cart that needs to be done, but I want to get this cart done and done correctly. When I open the apple configurator, and have 1 or the whole cart plugged in, it doesn’t even show that I have one plugged in to prepare… however if I click on supervise, it shows that I have however many plugged in… But it won’t let me refresh them.. so I am thinking that my best bet would be to start over… but not sure if I can do that… The ipad carts are a mess and really want to get them cleaned up before school starts to keep them managed. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • It has taken me about 4 months to get used to using configurator properly. It is an exceptionaly frustrating piece of software but never the less it is useful and now that I can use it properly it is an effective tool for deploying apps across multiple devices. My only suggestion if you are happy to start again is to wipe every device by going into settings – general – reset. Wipe everything manually on each iPad then start again with configurator. This is an extreme measure but allows should allow you to start again. If you are using the volume purchasing programing to provide your apps this will mean you lose all purchased apps and will have to re buy them, to try and keep all purchased apps then plug in all iPads and untick all apps and refresh. This should remove all apps and send the codes back into configurator to be reapplied at a later date. Unfortunately you said refreshing will not work. Have you checked if the Allow apps to be applied and the Allow apps to be removed boxes are ticked/unticked (depending on what you want to do) in the profile this may be stopping you from adding new apps if this is something you are having trouble with. The main piece of advice I would give when using configurator is the following (once supervised).
      1. Ensure the ALLOW APPS TO BE ADDED box is ticked in the profile. save this in the profile and then refresh.
      2. This means apps can be added to iPads. Apps store app will be visible on iPads.
      3. Upload apps from computer into configurator
      4. Refresh apps and all new apps should be applied.
      5. Go back to profile and untick box ALLOW APPS TO BE ADDED save this new profile and refresh. Apps can no longer be added to iPads. App store app disapears from iPads.

      I have found that if you upload new apps into configurator and then try to change the profile it will not work as configurator tries to apply the new apps before applying the new profile ie ticking the box to allow apps to be added and it does not work.
      Not sure if this was helpful. Good luck.

  41. If a student was to put a vpn app on theirs and it added another profile on it wouldnt it mess up the ipad and the students contract would be void and they’d have to pay for the ipad.

  42. Hi,
    Is there any way to create a blacklist of apps not to be installed on devices?
    I want students to be able to download apps when required but prevent Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc being used.
    Also if you added an app to a group does it update all iPads in that group over the air? or do you need to plug in?


  43. does anyone know of a way to set up a situation where I can switch on and of apps, depending on the use of the iPad?
    My iPads are for educational purposes, and I don’t want the students to access certain apps. But, it’s also for home-use so I want the ability to put them all back on at once.
    Apple Configurator only allows this on the basis of function, not on the basais of individual apps..
    Would there be a workaround?


  44. I have a question about changing home screen settings. I set them when I first set up configurator, but can’t see how I did that now. What has me confused is that some of the kids have been able to change the home screen images…and I had thought that it was all locked and unchangeable???

  45. I have setup 20 new out of the box iPads with little or few problems. However I am having problems setting up our old previously used iPads in configurator
    Is there a diiferent procedure required or is it best to wipe them and start afresh?

    • Hi Chris. I would suggest wiping and starting afresh. I had the same problem with used iPads as well. I think they still had a connection to iTunes and this conflicted with Configurator. Other issues could be having one paid app on the original iPad. Configurator will only install paid apps if they are paid for per iPad as in VPP codes. Occasionally without realising it, I have tried to update an iPad that had a paid app on it that was downloaded via the App Store and this caused error messages similar to what you mentioned.

  46. I should add the original iPads were not setup using configurator
    Some issues I get is the apps are applied but not all the profile settings
    I also get some strange error messages such as
    unable to connect to configurator after completion
    unable to prepare
    unable to communicate with device
    This is after configuration

  47. Hi Folks –

    I knew iOS7 would be coming, so I didn’t wipe or refresh or do anything with my classroom set of [18] ipads over the summer, and I’m still waiting for another round of tweaks and bug fixes from Apple before I go through the headache.

    Can someone give clear and concise steps for updating the ipads with the new iOS, including all app updates?

    This includes 2 VPP apps.

    I find the whole updating of apps to be very annoying/difficult every time, and am looking forward to setting the ipads to download app updates in the background going forward.

    Thank you.

  48. For those of you using Apple Configurator to supervise your school Ipads, you might be interested to know that you can now download photos and videos to any computer using the usb connection. All you need to do is update to the new Itunes and Configurator on your Macbook and then use configurator to update your ipads to most recent IOS. This will be great for use of individual ipads instead of solely relying on instashare or email. Warning: It will completely wipe what is already on them so make sure you have saved your work before attempting.

    • Thanks Kimberley. Can you clarify the warning? Are you talking about the update stage or every time you connect to a different computer it will wipe everything? And could you define “everything”?

  49. Thanks for your great article Mark.

    I currently use iTunes to manage 20 iPads for a non-profit registered charity and only found out about Apple Configurator a couple of days ago, so I am naturally excited and very keen to get started with it, but have a few remaining questions. Hope you or someone else can help. It would be very much appreciated.

    1. Can I just use a min 20 port powered USB hub to configure them? If so:
    1. Would it need to be to any specific specification?
    2. Would all 20 iPads be configured simultaneously or separately?
    2. I understand that I can configure basic email settings, but the user will need to enter their own allocated email address and password. Is that correct? If so:
    1. Would it cause a constant pop-up error issue until the username and password are entered? I presume yes, but only if the mail app is open
    3. I believe that as a non-profit registered charity, we are currently allowed to run paid apps on as many iPads as we like, but I am a bit concerned about VPP. Would we run into an issue with that?

    • Chris
      1. 20 port hub is fine and will sync all iPads at the same time.
      2. If each user has a different email account then yes they will need to set up own account. If it is under the same email system you can set up one account and then get them to change the user name and password themselves. However, if it’s just a gmail account e.g it’s just as easy for them to do it from scratch.
      3. Configurator will only install PAID apps using VPP codes, regardless of your personal permissions. Th only workaround is to use Configurator to set up iPads with any free apps, allow installing apps on the Configurator profile then install the paid apps through the App Store app on each iPad. Not sure if you have issue with providing the users with the account password or not. In that situation they could install themselves simply by going to the Purchased tab and hitting download for the paid apps. If not, it doesn’t take too long to do 20 yourself. If that is too much of a hassle, stick with iTunes. 20 isn’t too big a number to handle that way.

      • Thanks for your help Mark. Apple have not properly thought this out. The alternatives are clunky and needlessly time consuming.

  50. I have just updated 18 ipads, installed a newly refreshed and backup and profile, have all my apps almost where I want them, and am surprised at how well everything went.

    Except for 6 of the ipads! They have different apps, and the updated profile says it’s refreshing, but it actually isn’t. I have turned them off and on and tried applying/refreshing again and again. Any ideas at what I should be checking for?

    Stumped. Thanks.

    • – Since there would be only 6 it would be okay to wipe them and start from scratch, but I’m not even sure I know how to do that. I removed the supervision profile from one ipad (or clicked the “remove supervision” button locally; it didn’t seem to do anything), but them when I plugged it in it was invisible to the ‘prepare’ tab.

      I also need to maintain the two paid apps.

      These 6 ipads are both missing apps common to the set AND the rules are not configured correctly: they have facetime and game center installed, for example.

    • All okay after a few hours wrestling with weird issues:
      – Some ipads said the supervision profile could not be verified, and should force ipad to start in recovery mode. That didn’t really work. Tried six times, the seventh time it just worked. No idea why.

      – One of the ipads failed repeatedly with the error message that it could not install iOS 6.1.3. The ipad would not start up in any way; I just had the “connect to itunes” screen. I tried again and again and again. Restarting configurator itself seems to help. Finally it just worked. No idea why.

      Maybe this will help someone.

      • “Tried six times, the seventh time it just worked. No idea why.”

        “I tried again and again and again. Restarting Configurator itself seems to help. Finally it just worked. No idea why.”

        “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

        It seems insane, but sometimes trying repeatedly eventually works with Configurator. We loan iPads out on an individual basis so each one comes back a little different. At the start I kept an informal log – every time I do a batch I note the apparent starting status before plugging in. If one or two don’t refresh successfully I wrote down all error messages, things I change, number of re-attempts, etc. Sometimes you can drill down pretty far in the error/warning messages to get an idea what’s causing the issue. Eventually you’ll get the hang of the patterns.

        Good luck all!

  51. Wow! This blog post and the comments have more information than the whitepapers and FAQs from Apple.

    I am just starting to look into setting up iPads (~20) for a primary school and still have large gaps in my knowledge. I have setup Meraki for MDM since it seemed friendlier than Apple Configurator and I wanted to manage the iPads wirelessly as much as possible. I have signed up for VPP, but here is where I am stuck:

    What Apple ID is supposed to be on the iPads? Not students’ Apple ID since they are under 13 and too young to have one. Do I need to create a dummy Apple ID for each iPad? Then, each Apple ID has to be invited to be part of the VPP program via email link that needs to be opened up in the Mac App Store. And then, each iPad still needs to enter the password for their Apple ID to download the application.

    Would all my troubles go away if I connected the iPads via USB instead of trying to do it wirelessly? Still, I am all confused about the Apple IDs and how to manage them….

    Ah, long nights….

  52. I am using configurator to manage 30 iPads (with more expected every few months or so). I have configurator working very well for free apps (I can push any app to any subset of iPads – grade teams), but I have now started looking at VPP apps. I have my first two lists of app codes and I have loaded them into configurator. BUT when I go to push the apps down to the iPads, configurator just crashes after asking for my account password. Just looking for anyone else out there suffering the same thing.

  53. This provides meraki networking administrators with visibility and control, at minimal cost and with less complexity – benefits that aren’t achievable with the controller appliances or overlay management software associated with traditional architectures.

  54. This year we have bought 60 Pad 2s for the school and we now have another 30 on order…

    We are a DEC/DET public Primary school. I’ve just found that our iPads are NOT holding the DEC Wifi Code, when the iPads are updated, though Apple Configurator… Even though I have the wifi code set in the profile setup, the iPads never accept the code, so I typed it in manually to all 60 iPads (took a while)… no I find the code is dissapearing when I update them… Any idea why, or how I get thgem to accept the code correctly through the profile settings?

    • I’m not sure what your level of expertise is with Configurator (if there can be any such thing) but I can offer a guess that is only obvious after a year of trial and (mostly) errors. I’m not sure what “code” you are referring to, so I assume you mean the Profile containing the wifi settings – AppConfig calls it a Payload if I understand it correctly.

      Assuming you have Supervision turned on, go to the Supervise screen. If it’s not in Refresh mode (waiting for devices to be connected) hit Stop. Under Supervised Devices click on either All Devices or the Group you’re working on on. Make sure the Profile containing your wifi settings is checked. I’ve done something that unchecks it occasionally. Hit Apply then try a few devices to see if the wifi sticks.

      It’s frustrating that it won’t stay checked once I hit stop. I didn’t catch it for a while so I had to re-do a pile of them. Good luck in the battle!

  55. So I just tried updating my iPads to the newest iOS. I first attempted to do this through configurator. It says that they are all running on 7.1.2 but none of them actually updated. So I then decided that I would update one individually back up and then try again. I’ve updated and have attempted to back up but once the process starts it saying that I need to unlock the device to continue….I don’t think it is locked so I’m at a loss what to do next. Any advice?

  56. Question: I have created a Master ipad and placed all the apps into folders on the ipad. Will this Master ipad copy EXACTLY to the other ipads. I am having problems with the this process.

  57. For those of you with issues re workflow e.g. downloading photos theres an app called Foldr which we have recently started using. It provides a portal from the school networked pcs to iPad (and in reverse) and you can exchange files between the 2. It needs to be configured by proper techy type in liaison with Foldr themselves. Theres an annual fee but the app is free and on pc is just accessed through your web browser.

  58. DEC primary school…Any suggestions on how to upload files from iPads into Dropbox or YouTube? eg. videos and pdf. Unable to do this due to some type of configuration on our school Wi-Fi.

    I’m having to bring devices home to upload to YouTube and Dropbox (frustrating!!!)

  59. I am using Apple Configurator, and I prepared all of my iPads at the beginning of the year. Now that I am trying to add different iPad apps to them, I am having all sorts of problems.

    When I plugged in the iPad cart and went to supervise, I got error messages for most of the iPads. When I went to look at the iPads, all of the apps that were previously installed were now gone (I think they were prepared instead of supervised).

    I have tried countless ways to get the apps to re-install, but to no avail. Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong or what I need to do? I am so frustrated with the lack of help and resources out there. Help me, please! 🙂

  60. Kamala,it is a bit hard to diagnose your problem without being there. Configurator is hard enough sometimes when you are there! My suggestions, and you have probably done this, is to ensure everything is updated to the latest version ie iTunes, Mac Server and Configurator. My second suggestion is to check your configurator certificate in your keychain on the Mac running configurator. I spent 22 hours trying to solve a problem (error messages when loading profiles) that in the end was an expired certificate that took 3 min to fix. Find certificate in keychain and open it and check expiry date, they only last 12 months. If expired cut and paste it onto your desktop as a back up. Ensure it is deleted from keychain. Ensure you have exited Configurator then run it. Opening it should generate a new certificate in the keychain. Go into keychain and check. If this was the problem everything should now work.

  61. Hi , Looking for help !

    Im trying to set up iPads for a school using Apple config and Cisco Meraki Deployment.

    Im initially setting them up with Configurator for the Wifi settings and to supervise them.

    My Stumbling block is deploying Apps’s we are using VPP , which means each iPad has its own separate iTunes account to deploy the apps through meraki.

    How can i deploy a large amount of free apps around 50 per iPad and have them all in identical folders on each iPad , bearing in mind each iPad has an indicual iTunes account.

    I have managed to put free apps into folders using Apps config but when i have done this , the account on the iPad and the main account for downloading the apps on the config is different which means that the apps do not automatically update themselves without putting in the password on each individual iPad.



    • Hi Richie, pretty certain it is “allow installing apps” under the restrictions list. possibly “allow removing apps (supervised)”. I have them both ticked and have access to appstore.


  62. I am managing 20 iPads using Apple Configurator. Despite some issues all is going well. I have just updated apps through iTunes and then replaced using Configurator. My question is why do the updates not show on each individual iPad ie on the App Store app it has 22 which were the updates needed before I did update as above and replaced in Configurator.

    • Hi Melinda,
      After updating all the apps in configurator did you make sure to refresh your ipads? (assuming they are supervised)
      I had a similar issue but wasnt there one morning when I got into work..

  63. Hi Mr G,

    Loved your post as it was like a reading from my life about.. 9 months ago. Only difference being that I am Windows trained and have never owned anything Apple in my life. I do believe there is a way around one of your gripes as we can connect our ipads to any computer in school and download the photos etc, believe the option is under restrictions – “allow pairing with non-configurator hosts” found this out by accident. Though I did not read the date of this post so everyone may already be aware. My recent gripe is that we do use passcodes and there is not currently a way to disable passcode change on the ipad so we have some clever kids that like to change and lock them out… Apparently this will be covered in a update at some point.

    Richie – I am pretty certain this is done in restrictions – “allow installing apps”

    Melinda – I had the same issue, did you make sure you refreshed the supervised ipads after updating the apps? It actually took a couple of days for me before the ipads showed no updates needed…

  64. Hi everyone, Like most people here, I need some help!
    We have been running over 100 iPads at our school with few dramas until our MBP basically blew up! I’ll admit that we didn’t back up, but our tech managed to retrieve the needed files. Now we have a new MBP and Configurator but we can’t reload the paid apps onto our iPads. Our iPads are still supervised to the old computer. If I reset the iPads we will loose all our paid apps. Any advice would be appreciated!

  65. Hi,
    I have set up a gmail email address to put onto my student ipads at school. I am having some difficulty with settings and can’t seem to get it right in configurator. Any suggestions?


    • When you say “put on to”, do you mean an email to set up an Apple ID? Can you be more elaborate on “difficulty”? Which settings?

  66. Hi .. Some excellent knowledge here.

    Has anyone experienced iPADs randomly coming back to the hard reset prompt after a very simple prepare, supervise and single app mode (safari) certificate. We just deployed 17 and 7 came back the next day?
    There is a 2 digit passcode but no ‘failed attempts and wipe setting’. About to remove the passcode but this doesn’t seem the issue.
    You can obviously, with the device off, hold down the Home and Power buttons to hard reset. This would seem almost sabotage?
    Any experiences welcome

  67. Can I avoid deleting all apps on the iPad in order to just add 2 more apps? I have 30 and that would take forever. I only know how to start from scratch so what step to I need to go to to just add 2 more apps?

  68. Hi Mr G,
    I am hoping that you might be able to provide advice on my school’s current dilemma. I have a very limited understanding of apple and its’ software but have recently started working at a school with about 40 redundant iPads after they all were updated through a new program Configurator 2. Now all of the preinstalled apps are unavailable, as soon as you click on an app it just goes back to the home screen. They have now been sitting there idle for months because nobody has any answers and all of the teachers already have an overflowing workload. I really hope that you have some answers because I really need to use them in my program.


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