Identity Finder User Guide for Mac

Running Identity Finder on Mac OS X

The OIT Identity Finder package that has been installed on your computer comes pre-configured with all of the proper settings to scan your computer. The following walk through provides an overview of the steps involved when scanning your computer and managing the scan results.

Please read through the guide before scanning your computer, and if you have issues, do not hesitate to contact OIT at

Launch Identity Finder

Once Identity Finder has been installed, you can launch it by double clicking the Identity Finder icon located within your Applications folder:

You will most likely be prompted to update the ‘AnyFind Definitions’. Please click ‘Yes’ when the following window pops up:

Click the ‘Start’ Button

Because everything has been pre-configured for you, please do not change any of the scan settings. Just click “Start” and wait for the process to complete.

The software will scan every file on your computer so it may take a few hours to finish. The software is similar to anti-virus software and it can continue to run in the background while you use your computer.

Once the scan is complete, the next step is to manage the scan results.

Managing Scan Results

Post scan, Identity Finder will display a list of files that may potentially contain Personal Information (Social Security Numbers, financial accounts, etc). The list will also include files that contain patterns that look like Social Security Numbers or financial accounts, but are actually just a string of digits.

The first time your scan your computer, you will likely encounter a large number of these false positives. Subsequent scans however will go much faster because there are ways to ignore these files when scanning in the future.

Once the scan is complete, the first thing you should do is save the file.

Saving Results

Go ahead and save the file by clicking “Save” within the “File” menu.

You will be forced to enter in a password. The password is used to encrypt the file, as it will potentially contain a list of files that contain SSNs or financial account numbers on your computer. Please select a strong password using upper & lower case characters, numerals and symbols. 

The Interface

The Identity Finder Interface has three key areas:

  1. List of Files – A list of the files that it believes contain personal information
  2. Actions – Actions that you can take on those files
  3. Preview Pane – A view into the specific text within the document that matches the pattern

Ignoring False Positives

Undoubtedly, on your first scan Identity Finder will find a large number of false positives. Using the Results Window, review each of the files by selecting the file name within the list and viewing the data within the Preview Pane. If the data is decidedly not a SSN or financial account number, the file can be ignored.

To Ignore a file, simply click the check box next to its name and then click the the “Ignore” icon above the list of files.

If you have a large number of false positives, you can use the arrow keys to move up and down through the list and press the space bar to check/uncheck the check box. You can then ignore a larger set of files with one click of the ignore button.

If you have identified real records, continue on to Managing the Information Section.

Managing the Information

Now that you have found files that contain actual Personal Information, the data has to be appropriately managed.

Personal Data

Chances are, if you have ever used your Tufts computer to perform or print your annual tax filings, there is a good chance that this data has been identified by Identity Finder.

If the data identified belongs to you or your family members, you can safely choose to securely destroy this data. The easiest way to do this is to select the files and then click the “Shred” icon:

Shredded files CANNOT be recovered, so use caution when selecting this option.

University Data

If you have identified data that contains personal information but belongs to the University, then deciding what to do is more complex and involves consulting your manager or Information Steward.

Prior to taking any actions on University owned data it must be determined if the University, and specifically your organization or business unit, still has a requirement to collect and store this information. Some records may be legally retained for a defined period of time. Requirements and regulations vary, so consult your manager if in doubt.

If you know for certain that the files you have identified are not legally regulated, nor are required by the business, than they should be Shredded by clicking the “Shred” icon:

Shredded files cannot be recovered, so use caution when selecting this option.

Example files in this category may include:

  • Old student rosters
  • Files e-mailed to you for support purposes, yet happen to contain legacy Student ID numbers (SSNs)

As always, consult with your manager to determine if your school, organization or business unit still has a requirement to collect and store this information.


A risk of mailbox corruption exists if you select the “Shred” option when trying to securely destroy local e-mail messages that contain Personal Information. This issue is fairly common among applications that scan email (including some anti-virus tools) and relates to how these applications interact with mailbox files and folders.

Due to possible mailbox corruption, the shredding emails option has been disabled in Identity Finder client. To remove email containing personal information, Identity Finder’s recommendation is to identify the message within the mail client itself and manually delete that message.

To do this in Outlook, MacMail or Thunderbird, locate the individual message in the local folder and delete it.


Depending on how the mail client is configured, one of two things will happen:

  • The mail will go into the “Trash” folder.  Go into the Trash folder and delete the message from there.


  • The message will stay in the mailbox with a red X over it.  From the menu bar choose File: Compact Folders and the message will be deleted from the client.

Outlook and MacMail:

Deleted message will go to “Deleted Items” (Outlook) or “Trash” folder (MacMail). Go into the Deleted Items or Trash folder and delete the message from there.

Protect the Information

You may encounter a file that is required by your organization. These files cannot be erased, so they must be adequately protected. Work with your local Information Steward to determine the proper place to re-locate the file within your organization. The Information Stewards are tasked with reviewing and ensuring that the proper safeguards are in place to protect the Personal Information collected by your school, organization or business unit.

Find your Information Steward here.


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