Explained: The Apple Device Enrollment Program (Apple DEP)

Last updated November 7, 2019

What is Apple DEP?

Apple developed the Device Enrollment Program to help businesses and educational institutions easily deploy iOS and macOS devices. Even when utilizing mobile device management, the workflow to configure newly purchased iOS and macOS devices was complicated. DEP reduces the number of required steps for a newly purchased device to be ready for use.

Note: The Apple Device Enrollment Program is now commonly referred to as “Automated Enrollment” and exists as part of Apple Business Manager. While the information in this article is still relevant, we suggest that you also read the following article to understand how Apple DEP now fits in the larger context of Apple Business Manager: Explained: What is Apple Business Manager?

Should I Use DEP?

Having even one of these requirements makes DEP worth utilizing:

  • Enroll devices with a mobile device manager
  • Place devices in Supervised mode (learn more about device supervision)
  • Restrict devices from un-enrolling from SimpleMDM
  • Hide particular screens during the initial device setup process
  • Provision macOS devices without imaging

IT benefits greatly from the number of reduced ‘touches’ that need to be performed on each device.

DEP is a great option for non-technical employees, as well. As soon as they unbox their device and turn it on, it’s ready to go after a few screens. There’s no waiting for IT to configure the device, and there’s less confusion during the setup process. An employee is able to use their device immediately.

How Does DEP Work?

A DEP account must be created with Apple. This account is generally created during the hardware purchase process but can be created separately as well. Once the account is created, devices are associated with the account by serial number.

When you pair SimpleMDM with a DEP account, SimpleMDM allows you to specify how your devices will be configured. These configurations, when saved, will be pushed to your DEP account on Apple servers.

Then, when a registered DEP device is turned on for the first time, it contacts the Apple DEP servers and checks for a configuration. It sees the SimpleMDM configuration that you created and applies it to the device.

What Devices are Eligible for DEP?

If devices are purchased through a designated business channel, such as the Apple Business Team or third party business resellers (like CDW or Verizon), the devices can be added to your DEP account at the time of purchase by your account manager.

Starting with iOS 11, previously purchased iOS devices (macOS are not eligible currently) can also be added to DEP using Apple Configurator 2.5 software. Devices will enter a 30-day trial period where the device is part of the DEP account, but can be removed at any time. Once the 30 days has expired, the device will permanently belong to the DEP account. See our walkthrough for more information.

If you have existing devices running an earlier version of iOS, Apple may be able to add them to your DEP account after the time of purchase. To prove ownership, the devices need to have been purchased through a business channel. Our article Add Existing Apple Devices to Your DEP Account goes into further depth.

What can I do with DEP?

Configuring DEP within SimpleMDM allows for a number of options, such as:

  • Force the device to enroll with SimpleMDM
  • Select which SimpleMDM group devices should initially join
  • Disable user’s ability to un-enroll from SimpleMDM manually
  • Place device in supervised mode
  • Restrict device from pairing with macOS computers
  • Disable sending diagnostics information to Apple
  • Display personalized contact information for support
  • Automatically create an administrator account (macOS only)

Additionally, there are a number of setup steps that can be disabled or modified.

Specifically, you can opt to skip screens such as:

  • Passcode setup
  • Location services
  • Restoring from backup
  • Signing in to Apple ID and iCloud
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Touch ID setup
  • Apple Pay setup
  • Zoom setup
  • Registration screen (macOS only)

Or you can modify screens in order to:

  • Remove “Move from Android” from restore options
  • Disable FileVault setup assistant (macOS only)

How Do I Get Started With Apple DEP in SimpleMDM?

  1. Purchase Apple iOS and macOS devices. Enroll with Apple DEP.
  2. Upload DEP account token to SimpleMDM. If you haven’t already created a SimpleMDM account, you can do so here.
  3. Select configuration options within SimpleMDM
  4. That’s it. Your devices will receive their configuration as soon as you power them up for the first time.

We hope that this guide has been helpful. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have. We’ll be sure to answer them.

Additional Resources

Apple has prepared outstanding documentation on the DEP program. We encourage you to peruse it if you are considering using DEP in your organization.

Comments (2)

Hi Aurelio – Our understanding is that Migration Assistant is not available in the Setup Assistant screens during Automated Enrollment (formerly Apple DEP).

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