Apple introduced a number of important security mechanisms with the release of macOS Mojave in September 2018. Foremost among these is a general catch-all protection, restricting access to a range of files on the filesystem, including the user's mail database, message history, Safari data, iTunes and Time Machine backups, cookies, and various other files.

This mechanism ensures that there is user-consent for those files to be access, and protects against rogue programs or malware accessing them.

As a consequence, in order to use a macOS app to work with your local iTunes or Mac Finder backup files, you must first grant it permission.

Be very wary of any software that prompts you to move your backups to another location, bypassing this security mechanism. 

Also, be wary of any app that accesses data without a need to change this preference: it suggests that they might be backing up your iPhone to an insecure location.

Here's how to grant the uKnowKids RELAY / asrelay software application access to your local iTunes or Mac Finder backup files:

Granting access to iTunes backup files

  1. Open your Mac's privacy settings by clicking "System Preferences" on the Dock, selecting "Security & Privacy", and then clicking its "Privacy" tab. Alternately, go straight there with Spotlight by pressing ⌘ Cmd +  and typing "Security & Privacy" before pressing ⏎ Enter.
  2. Select "Full Disk Access" from the list of privacy areas on the left hand side of the dialog. You'll see a white pane on the right, showing a list of apps which have this level of access already. By default, the list will be empty.
  3. Click the lock icon on the bottom-left of the dialog to enable changing the privacy settings. You'll be prompted for your password or Touch ID fingerprint to permit this.
  4. Find the app that you want to grant access, in this case the uKnowKids RELAY / asrelay application, and drag it into the list, or click on the + and browse to its location. Once you have selected the uKnowKids Relay (asrelay) app, the Security & Privacy dialog will tell you you need to close and restart the app before the uKnowKids RELAY / asrelay app will be able to read your iTunes backups.

uKnowKids RELAY / asrelay application v2.0 and later will automatically prompt you with these instructions and guide you through them if the app has not been granted permission.

What happens if an application tries to access local iTunes or Mac Finder backups without having permission?

The app will not be able to read the files; it will appear as if they're not there. As a consequence, you may not see any backup files, or the app may crash. 

If you are technically inclined, you can easily see an example of this in the macOS Terminal, as the uKnowKids RELAY / asrelay application will be unable to list your backups -- unless you grant it permission -- :

$ cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/
$ ls
ls: cannot open directory '.': Operation not permitted

If you run into any difficulties, please contact our uKnowKids support team with an email at We would love to help.

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