… The difference between an agent and a daemon is that an agent can display GUI if it wants to, while a daemon can’t. The difference between an agent and a regular application is that an agent typically displays no GUI (or a very limited GUI).
… Agents run in a user context; daemons are userless and purely background, without any access to a window server or other user state. That’s why the daemon vs agent distinction in the Library folder names …
… once comprehensive daemon/agent doc was last updated in 10.5 after initial authoring for 10.4
- Common Mac OS folders/settings to check (when trying to get rid of a pesky self-launching app) - Super User
- Track down all startup & login script and application launches in Mac OS X
- osx - Run command on startup / login (Mac OS X) - Super User
- osx - removing startup item from com.apple.launchd - Super User
- @inadarei: Various Ways Something Can Load On Startup in Mac OS-X
- OS X Tips – System Startup – launchd, launch daemons, startup items, launch agents and login items | DGKApps
- All start up items exist in OS X (Lion) | MacRumors Forums
This list of places to look comes from the above, some of these are extremely obscure and some may not longer be used.
- User Login Items (~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginitems.plist)
- /Library/Preferences/loginwindow.plist can have Login Items that apply to all users
- /etc/rc/ and /etc/rc.local - totally unsupported, and not created by default (but probably still work)
- Network/Library/LaunchDaemons, but I don’t know)?
- /etc/mach_init_per_login_session.d/ and /etc/mach_init_per_user.d/
- cron launched @reboot items (yes, cron is still there), this might even work for everyone’s crontabs
- /Library/Security/SecurityAgentPlugins that have been loaded by being listed in the proper spots in /etc/authorization
- /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist, in the LoginHook key (runs as root, passed the username)MCX (WorkgroupManager) login hooks (runs as root, but passed the username) note: below this network home directories are more reliably available, as is a connection to the WindowsServer
- MenuBar items from ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.systemuiserver.plist and /Library/Preferences/com.apple.systemuiserver.plist (+MXC added items)
- /Library/Preferences/loginwindow.plist, in the key (array of paths) AutoLaunchedApplicationDictionary (everyone gets this launched at login, runs as user) (+MXC added items)
- LoginItems (generally GUI items) ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginitems.plist and possibly /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginitems.plist (have not tried) (+MXC added items)
Some terminal commands can help figure out what’s running:
When I edited my ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginitems.plist I found references to 4 3 apps and a server, including one I removed 7-8 years and 3 machines ago:
I doubt they did anything, but I edited them out anyway.
Software ages like people, with increasing mutations and unhelpful complexity. OS X is late middle age, it’s been through many handoffs, each taking its toll …
- Gordon’s Laws for software and service use 4/2010. I’m very cautious about trying new software. Perhaps great apps don’t need an uninstaller, but these days absence of an uninstaller is worrisome.