1. Overview enables the Accessibility API (AX API) only for user specified applications.

    Remember that checkbox in the System Preferences (the Universal Access pane) called "Enable access for assistive devices?"
    If you enable it, any application will have access to the AX API, and vise versa: If you disable it, no application will be able to use the AX API functions.
    Among the AX API functions are capturing of text under the mouse pointer, capturing of keystrokes, etc.
    Theoretically, when enabled, this global option decreases your Mac's stability and robustness and creates a security hole accessible by key loggers, trojans, etc.
    Although it's not as bad as it may sound, you would probably agree that it is better to err on the safe side.
    What applications may need the AX API?
    • Various helper programs for people with disabilities
    • Applications for saving/displaying keystrokes when recording screencasts, etc. (screen capture applications)
    • Applications for recording keystrokes for further reproduction (automation utilities)
    • Dictionary applications that are able to capture text under the mouse pointer for quick translation...
    What do we have to offer?
    Don't enable this global option, use instead to give access to the AX API only to your trusted applications.
    To be able to access the AX API, newly added applications have to be restarted.
    All your "trust settings" are saved between Mac OS X restarts.
    If an application you have added to your trusted list crashes on start (in Mac OS X 10.5 or later, see section 2 below), just remove it from the list, contact its developer with the link to this page.

  2. Known Issues
    1. For your favorite applications to "understand" that they actually have access to the AX API and not to ask you to enable the global access for assistive devices in the System Preferences, their developers should make a little amendment to their source code. Such an amendment is a matter of seconds, so it won't be hard for a developer to implement the support.
    2. The second issue is applicable only to Mac OS X Leopard users. In Leopard, some applications marked as trusted may crash right after the start.
      The problem is that Apple has enhanced trusted application security in Leopard so that, if such an application contains its own frameworks, the operating system may consider it as a security threat. Fortunately, this problem can be easily solved by the developer of such an application.
    We believe that the list of applications supporting accessibility control would grow quickly.
    However, we don't ask you to reinvent the wheel, we just recommend adding slight changes to your existing applications to make the trust function available since Mac OS X 10.4 work more efficiently, and leave users to decide, whether they would follow our recommendations and use a dedicated list of trusted applications, or would they decrease their system's robustness by enabling a single global option.
    You are the one to choose.

  3. Notes for developers

Trust Compatible Applications
Click the header to see the list
Trust for Tiger
Version:1.2 (July 21, 2009)
Size:81 Kb
Requirements:Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Download Trust
Trust for Leopard
Version:2.0.0 (September 23, 2009)
Size:500 Kb
Requirements:Mac OS X 10.5 or later

Download Trust
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