The Family and Their Macs: Essential Tips

More and more people are having Macs in their houses, not just as a personal computer, but also a family computer where everyone in the family has accessed to. In most cases, the family PC is often the most messed up PC around because you have no control (or you don’t know how to control) over who can view/delete/edit which files and/or prevent them from downloading virus and malware accidentally. In Mac, there are several features that allow you to better control Users and Groups and set security firewall for your children. If you or your family own a Mac, this guide is for you.

Setting Users and Groups


Users and groups allow you to have multiple people to use the same Mac in their own unique way. This is perfect for families that have just one Mac. This is regulated in the setting preferences section of your Mac. With users and groups, you have a section for the admin. This is the person who regulates all of the user rules and controls. In a family, the admin would be the parents or guardians of the children and guests. The other user setting is perfect for children, this group uses the applications pre-installed by the admin and can also surf online but they can’t delete or download more applications. Groups also are there for families who want a central account. Perfect for multiple admins (like both guardians).

Safety Controls: Protecting Children


The Mac has many settings that can help protect the little ones that use the family Mac. One major way that can protect children is with parental controls. These parental controls can set standards on what the child can view online, delete and download, and more. Under the safety controls settings, you can change access settings for applications, the Internet, People, and more. The application setting is where you want to go to set limits for the Finder feature, the hub of the Mac. Depending on the settings you set, the user will have to get the admin password to access the Finder.

Like all forms of entertainment, applications have ratings based on age. Instead of having to go through each and every application to block download, you can set which can be downloaded or not based on what their rating is. If you child does come to you for a password before download, don’t fret too much. There can be a case where the application could be perfectly safe, but restricted. For example, Opera the Web Browser was blocked to all under 18 due to the potential to view compromising information. However, a web browser isn’t one of the things out there that we feel would be harmful to children. So take each request with a grain of salt.

The settings area also allows you to set limits on what they can and can’t view online, including limiting adult content and other websites that can be considered inappropriate for younger audiences. In addition, if Facebook isn’t a website you feel your child should have access to, you can add it to the list to restrict your kid access.

Setting Timed Limits


From online games to watching funny television shows online, it can be easy for time to fly for your child while online. This makes it more important than ever to set limits on not just what they can view online, but also how long they can stay on the computer. In the settings tab, the time limit section allows you to set a certain number of hours each day that they can enjoy their Internet allowance. You can also set based on the day of the week, so you can set a more lenient rules for the weekend. To prevent your child from sneaking on after their bedtime, you can set a time to prevent logging in after a certain time. Once that time arrives, they are logged out for the rest of the evening.

The Issue With Multimedia


One thing that I should have reiterated more is that when you have an account, the account only includes your personal stuff and not others. That means that your seven year old won’t be able to access your files and move them to the trash. Everyone’s information and applications are kept separated. For content that you want to make available to all, a great way is to create shared folders. However, it’s important to remember that when something is shared, that means that everyone has the same ownership of that folder. So, when a file is taken away or added, everyone sees it. This may be one point that can encourage or discourage you from going through this route. Because if your family member(s) aren’t disciplined not to tamper with the folder, then everything from vacation memories to your costly iTunes playlist can be in the dust.

Your Mac and It’s Content


Lastly, let’s cover the task of saving your content. It is more important than ever to make sure that your content on your family Mac is backed up. You have many factors that go against you if you don’t do this. First, your Mac is more prone to water spills and mess-ups when children have their hands on the Mac. In addition, your family photos are most likely on there. When we are in a day in time when scrapbooks and family albums are now digital, a dead Mac can result in lost memories as well. That is why you should set your Mac up with Time Machine. This is the Mac’s dedicated backup software. With Time Machine, your Mac can periodically back up your information onto your external hard drive. Alternatively, you can also look into backing up some of your memories in the cloud, such as the iCloud or Dropbox for very low rates, and even free.

What are the ways you use to protect your family members on your Mac?

Ari Simon
Ari Simon

Ari Simon has been a writer with Make Tech Easier since August 2011. Ari loves anything related to technology and social media. When Ari isn't working, he enjoys traveling and trying out the latest tech gadget.

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