How to Monitor an iOS Device on Mac


In this article, we'll be walking you through setting up an Apple device for content monitoring.

Apple's stringent security measures require us to generate regular backups that act as snapshots of the device for the analysis of texts, saved photos and videos, notes, voice memos, and Chrome web browsing.

To read more about why we need the help of the Bark Desktop App to monitor the content of iPhone, iPad, or iPod, check out this article.

What do I need to get started?

You will need the following:

  1. Your child's Apple device(s), like an iPhone, iPad, or iPod.
  2. A Mac or Windows computer (preferably your home computer).
    We'll be outlining the steps for a
    Mac computer in this article. (Click here to see the steps for Windows.)
  3. A USB cable (also known as your charge cable) to plug your child's Apple device into the computer (only for the first time — backups will occur over Wi-Fi afterwards, but more on this later).
  4. Internet access.

I'm ready. Let's do this!

Watch this video to learn how to set up an iOS device for monitoring on Mac. If you'd like some additional tips — or if the video doesn't play — follow the step-by-step instructions written below.

STEP 1: Download the Bark Desktop App.

STEP 2: Open the Install-Bark.dmg file to install the application.

  • The Install-Bark.dmg file will be found in your Downloads or Desktop folder.
  • When you see the following window, drag and drop Bark into the Applications folder. Then, close the window.

STEP 3: Open Bark from your Applications folder.

You can find your Applications folder in Finder, which has this icon:

Not opening?

It's an easy fix in your Mac System Preferences! 

Open the Bark Desktop App

STEP 4: Log in with your parent / guardian credentials.

STEP 5:  Plug your child's iOS device into the computer.

You will see the following screen. Once the iOS device is plugged into the computer, you will want to click +Add on the top right or the Check for Devices button towards the bottom (either one works!).


Seeing an "Update Required" message here instead?

It's an easy fix! Click here for additional steps:

Fixing the "Update Required" Message

STEP 6: Tap Trust on your child's iOS device when prompted.

NOTE: You may also be asked to click "Trust" on iTunes or Finder on your computer if they open themselves up.

Not seeing this?

It's an easy fix! Click here for additional steps:

iOS Device Not Recognized over USB

STEP 7: Associate the recognized device with the appropriate child.

The analysis will begin after selecting your child's name on the Choose child: dropdown menu. After some time, you'll see a percentage indicator in small text below.

STEP 8: Check your Sleep/Wake settings for your Mac.

We recommend having the computer on and connected to the internet during a 6 to 12 hour window of the day so that you get more frequent analyses of your children's iOS devices, but understand every family is different. The Bark Desktop Application will be able to catch up and analyze the iOS devices whenever it detects them over the Wi-Fi again and it's been longer than 6 hours since the latest analysis.

To look over and adjust your sleep settings on your computer, go to System Preferences > Energy Saver, and set what works best for you and your family. For suggestions on this, check out this article.

STEP 9: Wait for the Backup and the Upload to complete.

  • The backup phase looks like this (it has a spinning circle symbol):
  • The upload phase looks like this (there's a cloud icon). During the upload phase, it's safe to unplug the child's iOS device.

Please make sure your computer stays ON and connected to the internet until you see the cloud symbol turn into a green checkmark ✅. This one may take the longest out of all the analyses you perform. Subsequent analyses will automatically delete the old backup files, saving you storage space.

Run into an error here? This could have happened if your internet cut out during the upload. If the internet is not the issue, try switching your child's iOS device to airplane mode and trying the backup again. If it persists, check out this article or reach out to Bark Support!

STEP 10: Check that the iOS device is recognized over Wi-Fi.

After the backup and upload completes, let's check to see if the phone is recognized by the Bark Desktop App wirelessly! 

  • To do so, unplug the device, ensure your child's device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the computer, and click Check for Devices. 
  • It will then say "Scanning for devices" for some time as it checks for your child's device over the Wi-Fi network.
  • After it is done scanning, what we want to see is the Wi-Fi symbol on the top left indicating it is recognizing the device over Wi-Fi, as seen below:

Not seeing the Wi-Fi symbol?

It's an easy fix! Click here for additional steps:

iOS Device Not Recognized over Wi-Fi

All done! 🎉

You can click the X to close out of the Bark Desktop App. Don't worry, it will continue running in the background whenever your computer is turned on so that it can analyze your child's device automatically and wirelessly whenever they're home and connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the computer.

Your child's device is now connected to Bark and is reflected on your parent dashboard with a ✅ next to content monitoring, as seen below. 


✅ means all is well.

🟡 or 🕓 means there's some additional coverage you could set up.

❗️ means something is not working / action is required. Click into it to learn more!

NOTE: If you see an 🟡 or ❗️ next to content monitoring or on-the-go controls, verify that Bark did not detect a "duplicate" that you may have to merge into this device.

What now?

Going forward, your child's Apple device texts, photos, and videos will be analyzed whenever your child is home and connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the computer. 

Note that your child's connected email and social media are scanned real-time at the account-level (meaning they don't get scanned with the help of a computer -- they're scanned constantly).

In addition, if you've installed the Bark Kids app on your child's iOS device, they'll still be filtered according to your screen time rules whether they're on Wi-Fi or on cellular data (ie. "on the go"!). In other words, screen time & web filtering of the iPhone, iPad, or iPod doesn't require the help of the computer! 

How do I keep iOS device monitoring up-to-date?

iOS content monitoring refers to analyzing texts, iMessages, photos, and videos on your child's iOS device for worrisome content, and alerting you in the case we detect something that needs your attention.

The Bark Desktop Application you've installed on your computer is set to run an automatic analysis of your child's Apple device when it detects it has been longer than 6 hours since the last analysis, as long as your child's iOS device is home and connected to the same network as the computer.

We understand that life gets in the way sometimes, so if you miss a day or a few due to a vacation or another busy time, rest assured we'll catch that old activity whenever you run a backup again (up to weeks back in analysis!).

To keep the monitoring of this information up to date, keep this in mind:

  • Ensure your child is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the computer whenever they are home. You will see the Wi-Fi logo at the top left, indicating it is recognizing the device over Wi-Fi, as seen in Step 10 of this guide.
  • If your computer is a laptop, make sure you open it and it's turned on at some point during the day while your child is home and connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Have your computer powered on and awake for hours at a time, so that it has the opportunity to run the backups over Wi-Fi when your child is home and connected to the same network. For recommendations on how to do this, click here for Mac and click here for Windows.
  • Click "Update" whenever you are prompted by the Bark Desktop program that a new update is available. Restart your computer to properly apply the update. See here for more information.
  • Force a backup to occur whenever you want!
    To do so, click here for more information.
  • Unsure if your backups have been received by Bark?
    Check your dashboard! Find your child's iOS device, click into it, and look at the "Last Analyzed" date under content monitoring:


Run into an error or just need help?

Check out our frequent troubleshooting solutions. If still no luck, send us diagnostics and reach out to Bark Support! Screenshots and additional information always help.