Apple Business Manager (ABM): What is and How to Enroll or add devices to ABM

Apple Business Manager (ABM) is a free service offered by Apple to businesses to automate the bulk deployment and management of all Apple devices including iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS devices. Apple also offers Apple School Manager (ASM) a dedicated service for schools to simplify the management of Apple devices.

Apple Business Manager (ABM) was previously known as Apple Device Enrollment Program (Apple DEP).


Ensure the following pre-requisites are met to enroll Apple devices using Apple Business Manager (ABM) enrollment:

In case of devices purchased neither from Apple directly nor from its authorized resellers, you can still add devices to Apple Business Manager (provided they're running or capable of running iOS 11.0 or later versions) as explained here.

NOTE: The steps mentioned in this document are also applicable to the Apple School Manager portal.

How Apple Business Manager (ABM) works?

Apple Business Manager workflow

The process first starts, when your organization purchases Apple devices from Apple or from Apple authorized resellers. You have to log into your Apple Business Manager account. If you already have an account with Device Enrollment Program, you can migrate to Apple Business Manager by following the prompts available on your DEP portal. You have to register MDM with the Apple Business Manager portal. Once you have registered the MDM server, secure communication is enabled between the MDM server and the Apple portal. This is used to synchronize the details of devices, purchased by your organization. When you find the devices synced from the Apple portal, you can assign it to users. Whenever the devices are activated, all restrictions and configurations imposed using MDM are automatically installed on all your devices over-the-air (OTA). By configuring ABM, you can ensure all the organization's devices are managed by MDM by default as soon as they are activated.

Apple Business Manager integration

If you do not have an ABM account, you can create one here. To know your DUNS number (which is one of the prerequisites), refer to this. You can also refer to this document to fully understand Apple Business Manager.

Benefits of Apple Business Manager (ABM) Enrollment

Integrating Apple Business Manager with MDM

After creating your organization's Apple ID and deployment account by following the steps mentioned in the ABM Program Guide, you need to carry out the steps outlined below, to seamlessly enroll and manage your organization's corporate Apple devices into MDM using Apple Business Manager enrollment.

First, you need to link the MDM server to your organization's ABM account. For this:

  1. On the MDM server, navigate to Enrollment -> Apple -> Apple Enrollment (ABM/ASM).
  2. Download MDM Public Key which has to be uploaded on Apple Business Manager portal.
  3. MDM Public Key download for Apple Business Manager

  4. Sign in to Apple Business Manager portal using your organization's managed Apple ID.
  5. Click on Settings -> Device Management Settings and navigate to Add MDM Server, to create a virtual server on the portal.
  6. MDM Public Key upload on ABM portal

  7. Enter a name for the server based on your organization's locations or departments.
  8. Now, you need to upload MDM Public Key, downloaded earlier from MDM and click on Save.
  9. Add ABM server on Apple Business Manager

  10. Click on Download Token to download the server token from ABM. Click on Download Server Token when prompted.                                      

  11. Download server token from Apple Business Manager

  12. Navigate back to your MDM console and add the Server Token under Upload Server Token.    
  13. Specify the e-mail address to receive notifications regarding Server Token expiry.
  14. Click on Upload to complete the uploading of the Server Token. You can configure the device activation settings as explained here.
  15. Upload server token from ABM portal

Setting a default server

Using Apple Business Manager you can automatically assign the purchased devices to particular servers once they have been added to the portal. Additionally, you can select different servers based on the type of device being enrolled. It is recommended to assign different types of devices to different servers. All of these servers can be integrated and managed using MDM. To select a default server for a particular type of device-

  1. Select the required server from the list and click on Edit.
  2. Under Default Device Assignment, select the device type.
  3. Click on Apply to ensure all the devices added to the portal are assigned to this server.

How to add devices to Apple Business Manager portal?

One of the advantages of using Apple Business Manager to enroll your Apple devices is that the devices can be enrolled without any interaction with the devices. There are two methods available to add devices into Apple Business Manager. IT admins can use any of the following methods to add devices to Apple Business Manager:

Adding Reseller details into the ABM portal

To add devices to Apple Business Manager, the reseller details must be added to the ABM portal. So every time devices are purchased from the same reseller, the devices are added to the ABM portal and in turn, to the MDM server due to the integration of the ABM portal with the MDM server.

Note: On ABM, only the Administrator or Device Manager roles can add the reseller details.

  1. Log into ABM using your organization's credentials. The option to add resellers is only available on the Device Manager's console, apart from the Administrator's console.
  2. Click on Settings -> Device Management Settings. Navigate to Customer Numbers to add your Apple Customer Numbers and ABM/DEP Reseller IDs.
  3. Click on Apply, to save the details.

How to manually add devices to Apple Business Manager?

After linking your MDM Server to the Apple Business Manager (ABM) portal, if you have devices purchased before integrating the portals, you can add devices to Apple Business Manager using one of the three methods:

To add devices directly to MDM, follow the steps mentioned below:

    1. On your Apple Business Manager portal, navigate to Device Assignments.
    2. Select the option Order Number or Serial Number or Upload CSV file for choosing devices as shown and mention the required details. If you have chosen Upload CSV file, you are prompted to browse and upload the CSV file containing the serial numbers of all the devices.
    3. Now, you must choose the action Assign to Server and specify the name of the MDM server which was configured earlier.
    4. The Apple devices are now added to the MDM server, automatically.

Add devices to Apple Business Manager

Device Activation Settings

On adding devices to MDM using Apple Business Manager enrollment, all the devices are enrolled successfully. Before the enrollment is complete, you have to configure the settings to be applied to the devices, on device activation. You can create and apply these settings to all your devices at one go, by following the steps mentioned below:

  1. On MDM console, navigate to Enrollment -> Apple -> Apple Enrollment(ABM/ASM).
  2. Complete the required fields displayed under Device Activation Settings.

Device Activation Settings

Sign in with Apple ID and iCloud Select to skip Apple ID and iCloud sign in by the user during setup. This does not restrict the user from signing in once the device setup is completed.
Touch ID Setup Select to skip Touch ID configuration during setup. The user can, later on, configure the Touch ID after completing the device setup.
Diagnostics Select to omit a user prompt to send diagnostic data to Apple during device setup.
Display Tone Select to skip the Display Tone setup assistant screen during device setup.
Location Services Select to disable Location Services during setup. If disabled, Location Services are turned off. The user can modify the location settings after completing the device setup.
Passcode Select to prevent users from setting up a Passcode during the setup assistant process. This can be skipped if a passcode profile is distributed through MDM.
Payment Select to prevent users from setting up an Apple Pay account in the setup assistant. This does not restrict the user from configuring it once the device setup is completed.
Privacy Select to omit the Privacy screen during the setup assistant process.
Restore backup from old device Select to restrict user from restoring iCloud / iTunes backup to device.
Terms and Conditions Select to disable the Terms and Conditions step during device setup. If disabled, the Terms and Conditions are accepted by default.
Siri Select to restrict the user from configuring Siri during device setup. If restricted, Siri is turned off. This does not restrict the user from configuring it once the device setup is completed.
Zoom Select to omit the Zoom functionality step during device setup.
Restore from Android device Select to prevent users from restoring back up from an Android device.
Keyboard Selection Select to prevent users from choosing a keyboard type during device setup.
Home Button Sensitivity Select to allow users to enroll devices without configuring the Home button sensitivity during setup.
iMessage and FaceTime Select to skip the iMessage and FaceTime prompt during the setup assistant process. This does not restrict the user from configuring the same once the device setup is completed.
New feature highlights Select to skip on-boarding informational screens for user education during the setup assistant process (“Cover Sheet, Multitasking & Control Center”, for example).
Screen Time Select to prevent informing users about Screen Time during device setup.
Mandatory software updates Select to skip the Mandatory software update screen during the setup assistant process.
Watch Migration Select to prevent users from viewing options for Watch Migration during the device setup.
Appearance Select to skip the Choose your Look screen during mac setup.
FileVault Select to prevent users from configuring a FileVault account during device setup. It is recommended to configure and distribute a FileVault Encryption profile through MDM.
iCloud diagnostics Select to omit a user prompt to send diagnostics to iCloud during device setup.
iCloud storage Select to skip iCloud Documents and Desktop screen during device setup.
Apple Registration Select to restrict user from registering the device with Apple during setup.
Screensaver Select to allow users to enroll a tvOS device without configuring a screensaver. This does not restrict the user from configuring the same once the device setup is completed.
Tap to Setup Select to skip the option of setting up Apple TV using an associated iOS device (user needs to enter the account information and setting choices separately).
Home screen layout sync Select to prevent users from toggling the TV home screen layout during device setup.
TV Provider SignIn Select to prevent users from signing in to a TV provider during setup.
Where is this Apple TV? Screen Select to omit the Where is this Apple TV step on tvOS devices during setup.

Mac Account Settings

As imaging for deploying Mac devices has been stopped by Apple, MDM provides a quicker and more efficient means of deployment by automating the creation of a local admin account on device activation. The local admin account created on the device has the following benefits:

To configure a local admin account, enable Mac Account Settings and provide the required fields the details of which have been given below.

Display Name Specify a name for the local admin account to be created on the Mac device.
Username Specify a username to identify your account.
Password A password can be set for the admin account which can be modified when needed.
Hide admin account You can optionally hide the local admin account on the Mac device, if you do not want users to see the account while assisting them. Enabling this, hides the admin account on the login screen and also completely hides it further. Hiding the account keeps it safe from prying eyes.
Allow users to create additional accounts on activation You can configure the type of user account on Mac machines. The privileges for Standard account type include installing apps at the user level and modifying their settings. Standard account users cannot add other users or modify other user's accounts. If Administrator is chosen, the user can add and manage other users, install apps at both system and user level, as well as modify settings.

Click Create. Now, the configurations and settings get applied to the devices.

Syncing Devices

After creating the ABM profile and applying it to devices, you can choose to Sync Devices by navigating to Enrollment-> Apple -> Apple Enrollment (ABM/ASM). On syncing, all devices get automatically listed on the MDM console.

Only when the devices are activated by the users, the enrollment process is complete and the devices are listed under Enrollment-> Devices.

In case the devices are not new, the devices should be factory reset, in order to be configured using ABM.

Assign Users to Devices

You can assign all the devices to individual users manually by navigating to Enrollment -> Apple -> Apple Enrollment (ABM/ASM) -> Devices. The alternate and easier option is to add users through a CSV file. You can also automate user assignment if you are using on-premises MDM version. Automated user assignment ensures the users are authenticated and self-assigned when the device is enrolled. This option must be enabled when ABM is configured or if already configured, you can enable the option from ABM settings. The only pre-requisite is, Active Directory must be configured in MDM. When enrolling the device using ABM auto-assignment, the user name to be provided on the device must be in the format: domain name\user name.

While assigning the users to devices, these devices can also be added to groups to automate the distribution of apps, profiles, and documents to devices. The devices can also be simultaneously added to multiple groups while assigning users.

Sample CSV Format




  1. The fields User Name and Email Address are mandatory. Group Name is an optional field. Ensure the specified group name is already created in the MDM server. If values are not provided, default values are taken.
  2. If multiple groups are specified, the group names must be separated with a slash (/).
  3. The first line of the CSV is the column header and the columns can be in any order.
  4. Blank column values should be comma-separated.
  5. If the column value contains a comma, it should be specified within quotes.

Remove Devices from the ABM portal

To unmanage the device, the admin must remove the device from the MDM server. Once the device is removed from the MDM server, the device is automatically removed from the ABM portal.

The devices that are enrolled with one ABM account cannot be enrolled in another. Therefore, these devices must be removed from the first ABM account before enrolling into another. Follow the steps given below to remove the devices from the ABM portal.

  1. Log into the ABM portal and click on Device Assignments.
  2. Enter either the Serial Number or Order Number of the devices. If you are trying to remove multiple devices, you can upload a CSV file with the device details.
  3. Under Choose Actions select Unassign device. This unbinds the device from this ABM account.

Apple Business Manager Unassign vs Release

To remove the devices, always select Unassign device and not Release device. Release device should be used only if the device is lost or permanently damaged and will never be part of any workforce. Releasing devices is a non-reversible action and once disowned the device can never be part of an organization.

Troubleshooting Tips

  1. After logging in to the Apple Business Manager (ABM) portal, you are unable to view the Add MDM Server button.

    The option to add MDM servers is available only when you have the Device Manager role assigned to you. Make sure the administrator has assigned the Device Manager role to you. Also, check if the admin has agreed to Apple's terms and conditions. To learn more about role management and the difference between roles in ABM and other Apple Deployment Programs, refer to Roles in ABM user guide.

  2. MDM server is not able to contact ABM to sync devices.

    Check if is allowed along with other domains and ports listed here. Also, verify the availability of the required Apple services.

  3. Even after successful sync, the device is not listed in the MDM server under Enrollment -> Apple -> Apple Enrollment (ABM/ASM) -> Devices.

    Check if the device has been enrolled in the MDM server using an enrollment method other than ABM. Remove the device from management, reset the device and sync again with the server. The device is listed on under Enrollment -> Apple -> Apple Enrollment (ABM/ASM) -> Devices.

  4. During device activation, you encounter the error message "The configuration can't be downloaded. The configuration is not available".

    Check your network connectivity. Also, check if the MDM server is reachable using the browser of another device in the same network.

  5. During device activation, you encounter the error message "Cancelled".

    Check your network connectivity. You can also try restoring the device which re-downloads the configurations. Once the device is restored, try enrolling it again.

  6. During device activation, you encounter the error message "NSURLErrorDomain error -1012".

    Check your network connectivity. Also, check if the server certificate was copied correctly to the forwarding server while configuring it.

  7. During device activation, you encounter the error message "A server with the specified hostname could not be found.".

    Check your network connectivity. Also, check if the MDM server is reachable using the browser of another device in the same network. If not, make the required changes to the server's NAT settings.

  8. While adding devices to the Apple Business Manager portal you encounter the error "NOT_ACCESSIBLE".

    This error is shown if the device is either not eligible for ABM enrollment or is either already enrolled or owned by another organization. Add the device to the correct ABM portal based on the device owner.

  9. While adding devices to the Apple Business Manager portal via Apple Configurator you encounter the error 'Provisional enrollment failed'.

    This error is shown if the device is unable to contact the ABM server. Factory reset the device and proceed until the Wi-Fi configuration step. Prepare the device using Apple Configurator and follow the steps for adding it to ABM.

  10. Why are my devices not listed under Apple Business Manager (ABM) tab when I add the devices to ABM using Apple Configurator?

    When devices are enrolled to ABM using Apple Configurator, the devices will be initially listed under Apple Configurator tab even though they are added to the ABM portal. When the user assignment is complete, these devices will be moved to Managed devices tab. 

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