Home > Mac administration, macOS, Privileges.app > Privileges.app and time-limited admin

Privileges.app and time-limited admin

Privileges is an open source tool from SAP which helps folks manage admin rights for their account. As part of its feature set, it includes an option for time-limited admin using a specific function called Toggle privileges.

Privileges dock toggleon

Privileges dock toggleon20

However, Toggle privileges’s time-limited admin feature for Privileges is its most misunderstood feature. The reason is that while the ability to set a time limit is only available if you’re using the Toggle privileges function, many users assume that this time-limited admin is available universally to all the functions used to get admin rights using the Privileges app.

It is not. Time limited admin is only available using the Toggle privileges function. If you’re not using the Toggle privileges function, there is no time limitation and you cannot set one from within the Privileges app.

This information is available in the Privileges FAQ:

Screen Shot 2022 07 22 at 10 05 50 AM

What does this mean?

  1. The only way time-limited admin is currently working on Privileges is by using the Toggle privileges function.
  2. If you are clicking on the icon in the dock and not selecting the Toggle privileges function, there’s no time limit.
  3. If you’re using the PrivilegesCLI command line tool, there is no time limit.

How long do you have admin if you’re not using the Toggle privileges function? Admin rights are granted until some process (like running Privileges again) takes them away. There’s no time limit.

All of the Privileges management options available for time-limited admin at this time apply only to the Toggle privileges function. If you’re using any of the management settings options listed below, they apply only and exclusively to the Toggle privileges function:

  • DockToggleTimeout
  • DockToggleMaxTimeout

They will not manage time-limited admin for any of Privileges’ functions outside of using the Toggle privileges function.

What if you want time-limited admin outside of using the Toggle privileges function? You will need to use a separate mechanism. In my case, I usually point folks towards using PrivilegesDemoter:


This tool uses a separate mechanism for figuring out the timing and then uses the PrivilegesCLI command line tool to take away admin when the time limit set for PrivilegesDemoter expires.

  1. Rob Morton
    July 22, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    Great site and great tool, so I hate to sound picky, but I am wondering what the reasoning is for this design choice. In my mind, it seems like there would be a setting to make it work as a time limited admin all the time. Trust me, this isn’t a complaint, it is entirely a curiosity question about why there is this limitation in the tool.

  2. danielle ortiz
    August 16, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    just seems like this was created in a very overly convoluted and overcomplicated manner. seems like a simple version to enable admin for X time would be more useful in this application then the way its presented.

    • K
      October 4, 2022 at 5:19 pm

      I agree with this. I feel that the timed admin capability should be the default, with the option of retaining admin being the “harder one to enable” with the right click and selecting the option. Having to setup a second mechanism to take away admin seems counter-intuitive. If we as admins wanted a user to have admin rights forever, we can do that at setup and not need this tool.

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