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The Apple Sandbox has been with the macOS users for quite a long time now. Apple has been working
really hard to set the Sandbox and other mechanisms in their Apple iOS. It had added immense efforts
to make it powerful than other OS over time. As you scroll down the page, you
would get more insight into what apple sandbox is and how it works.

Apple Sandbox

What is Apple Sandbox?

Apple Sandbox is a mechanism to secure GUI apps for Mac OS X. It was designed specifically to support the Mac App Store and to limit the damage to a different kind of exposure of user’s data. Apple sandbox program is working normally for a user if a developer wants to allocate its application through the Mac App Store.

History of Apple Sandbox

The apple sandbox was first been introduced in OS X 10.5 “Leopard” and was termed as “Seatbelt”. The concept was similar to that of the seatbelt in a car: ensuring a safe journey. Developers would enforce the sandbox on the iOS applications to restrict the system access. Later on, it was revamped in OS X 10.7 with stronger implementation and introduced the concept of containers. It was opt-in for Apple’s own binaries and apps.

Different Versions of Sandbox

Following are the
different versions of Apple Sandbox:

  • For OS X 10.5/iOS 1-3 The very initial version
  • Version 165 for OS X 10.7/iOS 5 Basic containers were one of the notable features of this version
  • Version 220Â for OS X 10.8/iOS 6 Introduced with few Sandbox exceptions
  • Version 278-300 for OS X 10.9/iOS 7 IOKit get the property, vnode renaming
  • Version 358 for OS X 10.10/iOS 8- Rootless, get-task, AMFI integration (in OS X version), kexts (kind of)
  • Version 460 for OS X 10.11/iOS 9- Rootless enforcement, container manager Host special ports, kexts, OSX NVRAM
  • Version 592 for OS X 10.12/iOS 10- Container Manager enforcement (iOS) User data items

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What would happen to an app that is not Sandboxed?

Such a Mac app development would have access to all the
user-accessible system resources which includes a printer, camera, network
sockets, microphones, and many of the other file systems. If the app is
attacked with some kind of malicious code, then the app would behave like a
hostile agent with great potential to impose harm.

How does Sandbox work?

For instance, an
attacker successfully tries to exploit some kind of security holes in your application;
Apple Sandbox provides a defensive mechanism against such kind of corruption,
alteration of the user’s data, hijacking and many more by limiting the access
to such sensitive resources.

This way, access
any resource must be explicitly requested. For instance, if you are using a
beauty app and you know that your app will never access to the headphone, you
do not ask for its access, then the system knows well the attempts your app can
make to use it.

Benefit of Sandbox for users

The app which is sandboxed has access to your specific requested resources. It helps users to
expand the sandbox by performing options such as drag and drop and can
automatically perform additional actions deemed safe. The entitlements are the elements of the Apple Sandbox store which
contains directories, user-determined permissions, kernel enforcement, files, caches, and other automatically generated content in their
directories. This help to prevent the app from accessing
more than what is required.

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Sandbox uses for developers

One of the key benefits for developers of sandbox uses is that it can enable developers to test their implementation of Apple Pay with test credit & debit cards. Sandbox is a mandatory function and developer needs to update the entire element and functions, so developers are always active and updated on their coding from time to time. Sandbox programming provides help to reduce future development errors to developers.


Although the Apple sandboxing technique benefits the customers, it’s a bit of burden to the Mac app developer or macOS developer as they might have to make the desirable changes in their code to perform tasks which are aligned to the Apple’s sandboxing protocols.