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How to Enable Access for Assistive Devices in OS X Mavericks

Posted by Jim Tanous on June 25, 2013
Enable Assistive Devices Mavericks

After upgrading to the OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview, we proceeded to install one of our favorite everyday OS X apps: SizeUp. This neat little app, which we’ve used for years, allows you to quickly snap and position windows on your screen using keyboard shortcuts. SizeUp uses OS X’s GUI scripting control features to work its magic, and it requires you to “enable access for assistive devices” in System Preferences each time you install it on a new computer.

Enable Assistive Devices Mountain Lion

OS X Mountain Lion’s method to enable assistive devices.

After installing it on Mavericks, SizeUp gave us the familiar message about enabling assistive devices. No problem, we thought, as we opened System Preferences and headed over to the Accessibility Pane, where the option has lived for years. Unfortunately, the old check box for assistive devices was gone and none of the new options seemed applicable. Without the ability to grant SizeUp access to OS X’s underlying control functions, the app was useless!

Enable Assistive Devices Mavericks

The function is missing from the Accessibility preferences in Mavericks.

Thankfully, after a bit of searching, we found that Apple had simply moved the option… to the Security Preference Pane. You’ll find it in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility. Unlike previous versions of OS X, which used a universal checkbox in an “all or nothing” approach, the new functionality in Mavericks allows users to individually choose which apps can gain control of the system to perform their various scripted functions.

Enable Assistive Devices OS X Mavericks

In our case, we had to attempt to run SizeUp first, have it fail because control wasn’t enabled, and then we found that it appeared in the new Accessibility list in System Preferences. We clicked the padlock icon at the lower left corner of the window to authenticate as an administrative user, checked the box next to SizeUp, and then found that our favorite app was back up and running again.

This change not only applies to window management apps like SizeUp, but also to many other automation utilities and predefined AppleScripts. The change is definitely a positive one due to the new ability to grant control only to specific apps, but it’s yet another example of how longtime OS X users will need to take some time to acclimate to the new features in Apple’s latest operating system.

30 thoughts on “How to Enable Access for Assistive Devices in OS X Mavericks”

Falcon89 says:
Thank you, this saved me so much stress
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Dmoney says:
how do i add an app to my accessibility, i dont have the plus minus sign?!?
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Alvin Agarrat says:
Thanks alot. Helped me install a Final Cut Pro X installer
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Sagar Rayaprolu says:
Hey, i have a qs regarding. I ran the app, and as suggested tried dragging it into the box as well. It just does not happen. Any Idea why? its a Pro Tools Loader for 10.3.9
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Dylan Briggs says:
How do you enable DEVICES as opposed to Apps?
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Daniel Andrés says:
hi i need help with “entable access for assistive devices” for install a plugin on ligthroom.
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Jeff McNeill says:
Great, thanks! You are a lifesaver for enabling SecondBar in Mavericks. The only way to stop the “jumping dock” is to turn of “enable spaces” in Mission Control, but that also disables the menubar. So I had to find out how to enable access for assistive devices, and you sir did the job!
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Hamid Seleman says:
Thanks! sizeUp is at service again!
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Richard Glaser says:
This Python script helps to add items to the TCC.db sqlite database, which is useful in a distributed environment where a blanket TCC file would not work properly. See the following github site for more details and the script.

https://github.com/univ-of-utah-marriott-library-apple/tcc_database_manager

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Richard Glaser says:
FYI:

We have made a management utility to administrate OS X Location Services, Contacts requests, Accessibility, and iCloud access in enterprise environments.

It runs on OS X 10.8 & 10.9 and has been tested with OS X 10.10 “Yosemite”.

Since Mac OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion”, Apple has introduced systems to handle access to certain features of the computer. Among these are Contacts (AddressBook), iCloud (Ubiquity), Accessibility, and Location Services. The first three are managed through one method (SQLite databases called TCC.db hidden throughout the system), while the latter is handled by the locationd daemon through property list files. Originally I created two separate scripts to accommodate the manual modification of these systems. However, eventually I realized that while the internal workings were different, the desired effect was more or less the same. This Privacy Services Manager is a compilation (and mild reformation) of those two scripts.

The script is fairly straightforward, though there are some options:

$ privacy_services_manager.py [-hvn] [-l log] [-u user] [–template] [–language] action service applications

Options

Option Purpose
-h, –help Prints help information.
-v, –version Prints version information.
-n, –no-log Redirects logging to stdio.
–template Modify permissions for Apple’s User Template. Only applies to certain services.
-l log, –log-dest log Redirect logging to the specified file. (This can be overridden by –no-log.)
-u user, –user user Modify permissions for user, not yourself. (Requires root privileges.)
–language lang When changing permissions for the User Template, modify the langtemplate.

Our two other GitHub repos

– tcc_database_manager
– location_services_manager

Are deprecated and replaced by the more-complete & actively developed and supported Privacy Services Manager

We also have included a package installer/uninstaller for those using package distribution systems or to ease installation for the busy/less technical.

If you have any questions, problems or features requests feel free to email me off-list or send email or file a issue via the GitHub repo.

For more information see the following web page:

“https://github.com/univ-of-utah-marriott-library-apple/privacy_services_manager”

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David Rodriguez Lima says:
Muito obrigado!!!
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Eric Dussault says:
It doesn’t work for me. Everytime I launch Quickeys I get the message that I must check the option to enable access for assistive devices, but there is no checkbox to check. I am using the french version of Mavericks but I don’t think it should matter… Please help!
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TekRevue says:
Hi Eric,

Try this: go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility and then try to drag and drop the QuicKeys app into the list. Let me know if that does it for you. When we wrote this tip using the Mavericks beta, this didn’t work, but since its public launch it seems this drag and drop functionality works.

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thwap says:
Thank you!!! This worked! 🙂 (after unlocking it with the lock icon to ungrey the ‘drop’ area, of course)
Eric Dussault says:
Thanks it finally worked out! I think I had done everything right, but I started it all again and drag-dropped the quickeys icon into the list although it was already there and checked. In the end it is working so I am really happy now!
David Hoerl says:
Note that you can drag an app in from the Finder to the Privacy app list – saves you from having to first fail. I just tried this and it worked!
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Tobias Wissmueller says:
Thanks a lot!
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Lincoln Smiff says:
Further to this, to add other apps to the Accessibility tab, open Applications in Finder and click and drag across the ones you want to add.
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Willbt2 says:
Apps in Applications just won’t drag/drop from that folder – to the Accessibility key, I mean. Of course they will move easily to other locations. But not here.
I GIVE UP!
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paulschantz says:
Thank you, this helped me too!
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Mykola Dumenko says:
Awesome! Thanks for the help. This is also useful for TextExpander app.
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Chris Barrows says:
Huge help – I was having the damndest time finding where this was moved to. Thanks!
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chsweb says:
Here’s a live demonstration for those who prefer to watch http://bit.ly/1cNWaRu
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Paul Profitt says:
Thanks! Dragon Dictate would not install until I went through the steps. Using it now to post this!
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Jeffrey Scofield says:
This saved me a lot of time–thanks very much. Now I can use QuickCursor.
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Jacob McKinney says:
THANK YOU THIS HAS BEEN DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!!!
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Victor Lopez says:
Gracias 🙂
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Applejuice says:
Thanks!
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FormerWirehouse says:
Thanks. This solved a problem with Right Zoom (rightzoom) for me.
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ChingonDelNorte says:
Thanks!!!!
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Carlo Diego says:
Thank you!! Exactly what I was trying to accomplish for ScreenFlick!
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Maziar Mahjoobi says:
Thank you! This helped me get CheatSheet up and running.
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