Using a bash script to enable access to assistive devices is possible in Mavericks (and also Yosemite) despite the move to a per-app database. This is useful for entering keystrokes or clicking GUI buttons via a bash script.
How to Enable Access for Assistive Devices and Applications on Mac OS X. Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks; Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion; Mac OS X 10.7 Lion; Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Check the box next to 'Enable access for assistive devices' Recent Posts. So Mac OS 10.9 will prompt a dialog for end user permission to enable Accessibility when application uses accessibility APIs. Additionally User has to Relaunch the application after enabling Accessibility. Can we enable access for assistive devices programmatically on 10.9 using Applescript. If you have an assistive device that’s recognized by Mac OS X, select the Enable Access for Assistive Devices check box to allow it to be used throughout the operating system. You can also elect to display the Universal Access status icon in the Finder menu bar. The four tabs here are.
Prior to OS X Mavericks, enabling access to assistive devices was relatively easy. Running the command
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would enable it. But now each app now needs to be allowed or disallowed access.
I often used Applescript/osascript to simulate keystrokes or click GUI buttons, which was great for automating “un-scriptable” tasks on multiple computers. One particular feature I always found incredibly useful was logging a user in via the
loginwindow by sending it a script from a remote machine. This proved useful in a lab environment when I wanted to open a specialized piece of software to make sure it worked on all of the machines.
The script would simulate keystrokes and fill in the username and password fields and then press enter or click login. Unfortunately, Mavericks does not allow Applescript (or more accurately,
/usr/bin/osascript ) by default, which is what I used to accomplish this from my script. Trying to run this script returned an error:
The first thing I tried was to drag
/usr/bin/osascript into the Accessibility window of the Security & Privacy Preferences pane, which is how you can add other apps. This did not work as the command-line tool was not an .app .
Needless to say, after struggling to figure out how to enable this through a script, I finally found a way.
Each entry in the Accessibility window is actually part of a database file. Using sqlite3 , this file can be manipulated to add, remove, or modify items. To get
osascript to work at the login window and be allowed access to assistive devices, run this command:
If you are using
Or you can use
To remove it:
or completely wipe out every entry with:
osascript must be some part of
/System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app, because another script I was working on triggered the prompt to allow it access.
After enabling it in System Preferences and rebooting,
I was able to run the script I have used for years that enters a users credentials into the login window fields via a script sent from Apple Remote Desktop. The script is below, but I also have multiple versions of it on my Github page. Even one written in Python.
When enabling this, I also add a few other things that may come in useful:
This allows me to use things like the lock screen or the say command from the login window. In my scripts, I use it as a visual indicator that the job is done without having to log in. I can either listen for the command to complete or the lock screen to disappear.
tccutil only supports one command in Mavericks. I wrote my own version of it called tccutil.py. You can get it below, or look at the source code.
This is just a little Python command line utility that can be used in scripts. I’m sure Apple will expand their utility, but for now, this is something you can use.
If you want to automate mouse clicks or keystrokes, I would suggest using UIElementInspector, or Accessibility Inspector, as it is called now (part of Xcode). This works great to find out what window, menu, or button names are called, so you can use them in your AppleScripts or bash scripts (
If you are using Mavericks, you will have to--ironically--allow it access to accessibility by either dropping it in the list, or following the prompts when you run the app for the first time.
osascript to the accessibility database doesn’t always mean your app or script will run without producing the error. Often, you need to add the app that is being manipulated. For example, if you had an AppleScript that clicked a menu in TextEdit, you would need to add TextEdit to the accessibility database.
So after a lot of requests from our users here is a guide about How to Enable & Control Access for Assistive Devices & Apps in Mac OS.
Tools and supporting apps are applications and accessories that can control parts of the Mac and MacOS outside the normal range of app limits. Although it is primarily considered accessibility feature, it is also commonly used for general purpose apps, ranging from screen sharing features, to apps that require microphone access, to even web browsers and many popular games. Due to its widespread usage, many users may require auxiliary devices and apps, but what was once called “Auxiliary Devices” and controlled in the Universal Access / Accessibility Control Panel has since moved to a new common location in macOS.
Let’s see how to enable it in the latest version of Mac OS X, and also how to control and change which apps can use the assisting device features.
(Note that older versions of Mac OS X can find this setting in System Preferences> Universal Access> by checking “Enable access for assistive devices”)
The list displayed shows exactly which apps can control the Mac using the supporting devices feature set. As mentioned above, this can access it camera, microphone, screen, keyboard, or other similar features of a Mac. If you see something in this list that you don’t want, or if you don’t see an app that you do want assistive access to, you can easily control both, which we’ll cover next.
Most applications that want to access the Tools panel will ask for permission on first start. This comes in the form of a doll-up dialog box with the message “AppName wants to control this computer with accessibility features. with an option to “deny” the request. Please note that if you decline the app, you can add it again later or change the setting simply by going to the Privacy Control Panel.
Let’s focus on determining which apps do or don’t have accessibility support features on the Mac using the Privacy> Accessibility control panel. This is easy to do:
You may find some apps in the accessibility list that you weren’t expecting to see here, and if you see anything odd, consider it features of the app that may require more control over the Mac to function. For example, many popular games require access to the Tools capabilities so that an online game can properly use voice chat or screen broadcasts. This is true of almost all Steam games, ranging from Team Fortress 2 to Civilization V, and Blizzard / Battle Net games such as StarCraft 2 and World of Warcraft. Note that these games will continue to function without Assistive Access, but their feature set for online communication and sharing can be limited, and so if you are playing games and looking for the voice chat features don’t work, this setting or app-specific access could very well be the reason why. The same usually applies to other apps as well, and similar fine-tuned controls are now also available for iOS devices for apps that attempt to access everything from location data to the microphone and camera.
If you are wondering why this feature is now in the “Privacy” control panel, it’s probably a more appropriate place given the increased capabilities that such apps and devices can access on a Mac. In addition, because the feature has wider uses than general universal access functionalities, it makes sense to extend controls to more general privacy preferences.
This change first appeared in Mac OS X Mavericks and persists today in macOS Mojave, Catalina, Yosemite, El Capitan, High Sierra, Sierra, and presumably beyond.
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