Explained: The Apple Device Enrollment Program (Apple DEP)

Last updated April 19, 2019

What is Apple DEP?

The Device Enrollment Program was developed by Apple to help businesses and educational institutions easily deploy iOS and macOS devices. The workflow involved in configuring newly purchased iOS and macOS devices traditionally was complicated, even when utilizing mobile device management. DEP was created to reduce the number of steps required before a newly purchased device is ready for use by the organization.

Should I Use DEP?

If your organization has even one of these requirements, DEP is worth utilizing:

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

This benefits operations and IT in that it greatly reduces the number of ‘touches’ that need to be performed on each device.

DEP is a great boon for non-technical employees in an organization 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 without delay.

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 this 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.

When a registered DEP device is turned on for the first time, it contacts the Apple DEP servers and checks for a configuration. When it sees the SimpleMDM configuration that you created, it 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 users 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)

There are a number of setup panes that you can also disable or modify. Specifically, you can opt to:

  • Skip passcode setup
  • Skip location services
  • Skip restoring from backup
  • Remove “Move from Android” from restore options
  • Skip signing in to Apple ID and iCloud
  • Skip Terms and Conditions
  • Skip Touch ID setup
  • Skip Apple Pay setup
  • Skip zoom setup
  • Skip registration screen (macOS only)
  • Disable FileVault setup assistant (macOS only)

How Do I Get Started With Apple DEP?

  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.

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