Apple Configurator is a quick and simple way to configure settings and applications on multiple iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) in bulk. This guide demonstrates how to install both free and paid apps on multiple iPads at once.

I have assumed you have Apple Configurator installed on your Mac and one or more iPads or other iOS devices prepared and supervised by the machine. If not I’ll be posting an article demonstrating how to set up and configure your iPads with Apple Configurator shortly.

STEP 1: Download the app you require via iTunes in the normal way, this includes paid apps

Download Apps via iTunes

STEP 2: Open Apple Configurator and select the Supervise tab

STEP 3: In the right panel select the Apps tab at the top of the screen.

STEP 4:  Initially the Apps panel will be blank. To add the applications you wish to install, click the + symbol at the bottom of the page and navigate to the following location to find the apps you downloaded in iTunes:

Mac HDD > Users > Your User Name > Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Mobile Applications

The Apple Configurator Apps list should now be populated with the apps you wish to install.

STEP 5: Connect your iPad or iPads to your Mac with the standard Apple USB cable. If you don’t have enough USB ports on your Mac you can use a USB hub. Many iPad trolleys and cases come with a powered USB hub built in.

STEP 6: Your iPads should appear as connected in Apple Configurator.

STEP 7: In the device list select the device or devices you wish to install the app on. If you want to install the app on all devices select “All iPads” at the top of the list.

STEP 8: Tick the application(s) you wish to install in the App list

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 15.13.25

STEP 9: Click the Apply button at the bottom of the screen

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 15.14.32

Your apps will now install on all connected iPads.

Installing Paid Apps

If you’re installing an application which costs money there are a couple of additional steps you need to take. First take a look at this post on the Apple Volume Purchasing Programme for Education and if required sign up. If you’re already VPP registered follow these additional steps.

You’ll notice that if you have to purchase an app you are unable to tick and install it on your iPad. You’ll also notice an exclamation mark and a number against the app in the list.

The number represents the number of licenses that are available to install. To start you will have zero but you can add more by purchasing VPP

We will have a guide soon demonstrating how to purchase VPP licenses.

STEP 1: Double click on the number next to the application in Apple Configurator. A new dialog box will open.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 14.55.38

STEP 2: Click Import Redemption Codes and then click to confirm that you want to import codes

 

STEP 3: Browse to find the file containing the redemption codes downloaded from your Apple VPP account. The number next to your application should now represent the number of purchased licenses.

STEP 4: Continue on from Step 8 above.

I’ll be building more guides to iOS management soon. Keep checking back for the latest information.

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About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.

23 Comments

  1. Good explanation Karl, i have question
    is the any way to automate this process using i don’t know apple script or some sort of batch process to schedule ipads update

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      Hi Sergey,

      Good question! I have no idea, it’s no something I have tried. If I have a few spare minutes I’ll give it a go. If you find the answer, let me know!

      Karl

  2. We have an app to add to 28 carts. It is $2.99 and not part of the VPP. How do you purchase them, and then add to Apple Configurator?
    Thank you, the above was very helpful.

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      Hi Terry,

      If the app isn’t part of VPP they you shouldn’t really be distributing it to your iPads unless it’s an app you have built yourself. Does it just not appear in the VPP store?

      Karl

  3. Brendan Van Deusen on

    Hi Karl,

    My situation: I will be managing 18 iPads in owned by my school. Students only use them during class time. iPads are not assigned to individual students because several classes use the space. I’m considering using Configurator and VPP to manage apps.

    My question: Is it necessary assign each iPad its own Apple ID for app management to go smoothly?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      Hi Brendan,

      If you’re using Apple Configurator it will actually work best if you just use one Apple ID. When installing apps through AC you just enter the VPP account details and it will install the software on all iPads. There is no advantage to using separate Apple IDs in your situation.

      Hope this helps.

      Karl

  4. Trying to deploy free apps onto iPads using configurator, all looks in order but a message comes up on the app side indicating “unable to authorize apps” any thought we are new at this?

  5. When I add the apps, it prompt to login, and then Apple Configurator says need to upgrade iTunes to the latest version. My iTunes version is 12.0.1.26

    • Hi there… I also had this same issue.. It keeps prompting me to upgrade my iTunes to latest version.

      My iTunes version is 12.0.1.26
      My Mac OS version is 10.10 Yosemite
      My Apple Configurator version is 1.7.1 (550)

      Many thanks!

  6. Our facilitators are also experiencing problems when trying to update iPads through Apple Configurator. We have the ios8.1 and the latest Yosemite and Apple Configurator. We can not use a USB hub to connect to a MacBook Pro and sync what we need. If we do 2 at a time through the two hubs that is resident in the MacBookPro is happens. What do you think is the problem. We have tried using different hubs. Any help would be great. Should we be considering MDM approach?
    Thank you,
    Terry

    • This sounds like a similar problem to mine (see below). I cannot get the MacBook to recognize the iPads when plugged into the cart, or into the two hubs on the MacBook. Seems like a major bug to me!

  7. New Yosemite plus New Apple Configurator 1.7.1 is a nightmare. Don’t update if you haven’t yet! I was prompted to update and regret it now. Once I had installed latest versions of both I plugged in my cart. About half of the iPads were not recognized as being plugged in at all, which actually saved them. The other half all updated with errors and I ended up with the black screen that has the iTunes logo and a picture of the cord. I had to do a factory reset in iTunes on my Windows desktop because the MacBook no longer recognizes these iPads. Now they are restored, and configurator is still ignoring them once they are plugged in. Has anybody else had this horrible luck? I wish I could go back in time and undo these updates! I can’t seem to find any information online and don’t have time to sit on the phone with apple support.

    • Yes I did the updates as well before trying to sync several carts with Apple Configurator. That was before Thanksgiving. I am the Tech teacher as well as the tech coordinator and supporter of several iPad carts. I had to do 10 individually on the Macbook in order to update the ios for iPad2s. The amount of time to do this is out of the range of the normal teacher/educator. Our school does not have a separate technician who is here to manage these carts. The marketing of the iPads for education is terrific and when it works teachers and students are happy. Too many updates and conflicts for the private schools. We have 330 iPads but since Apple changed the ios after school started, we can not get to update everyone. Very frustrated. If Apple could send a rep to do these updates we would be very gratefull.

    • I am having this very issue at the moment with our new cart and new MacBook Pro with the latest Yosemite and Apple configurator installed, i was first pointed to a haswell update by lockncharge to update the MacBook pro, this did improve things but now getting the odd one or two that stick on the restore screen or Apple configurator will just quit with an error log to Apple while the iPads are in the middle of preparing, if you got anywhere with this please let me know

  8. Georgina Coady on

    I took delivery of a new mac book and 20 iPads 2 days ago. The tech showed me how to download a free app and distribute through apple configurator. However now when I try to do the same the apps I downloaded do not appear in the list available when I click on the + button. I found them in the mac books ‘applications’ but when I tried downloading these ‘it said identifier missing’ . After reading through internet help pages one said it has to be in the the iTunes folder but how do I get it there? Surely it should have put it there when I downloaded the app?

  9. Are my eyes deceiving me or does this new Configurator force update, backup and restore once you select Supervise? Can you install apps without using Supervise? Oh how I miss the old Iphone Configuration Utility!

  10. Hello there.

    Great series of articles. I am really learning a lot.

    My question is this – how many different apple ID’s are you supposed to have? How many apple ID’s are you supposed to have dedicated to one task?

    Right now, for Meraki, I have 1 apple ID. And then for VPP, I have another Apple ID. And then for that same school, I have my own apple ID on our gmail domain.

    Is the VPP apple id the one we are supposed to download apps from in iTunes to push out with apple configurator? Or is the VPP apple ID ONLY for buying the bulk apps?

  11. Good Articles! Very helpful. I have a quick question, if I set not allowing users to download apps? are they able to upgrade new IOS?

  12. Hi, is it also possible to pre-load content on multiple iPads using the configurator? I’d like to have iPads automatically download a podcast which will populate the devices with some music and video. This would be much easier than having to do manually on each iPad.
    Thanks

  13. Hello, I am using apple configurator. I wanted to know if there is a any special usb hub your recommend. I have been using two Dlink-Dub H7 with 5 ports. I am using a2015 macbook pro. I manage close to 500 ipads. I would like to use a hub with at least 10. Can someone recommend something.

    Thank you

  14. Alexandru Bogdan Sandor on

    Hello,

    Sorry if the comment is off-topic, but can you tell me if is possible to use an iPad only app on a MacBook Air.
    The app is Worldscales from Kelfar.

    Thank you,
    Alex

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