Although I designed to have the Noob2Pro series as a sequential series covering different parts of the Mac, I did have a consideration of going back to previous posts and updating them if you guys wanted something adding. I got an email today asking to run through parental controls, based on a previous post about Setting Up User Accounts. Personally for multiple users this is a big part of the Mac and can turn any normal computer into a security conscious Mac, especially for people who are not tech savvy and have a habit of breaking things. You can secure your Mac and look like a pro, especially to people with kids who have ordinary accounts.
Using Parental Controls
Parental Controls are designed for kids, however I could easily see them being used in schools and even in the work place. They are designed to restrict computer usage on your Mac, and in some cases remove some features. Although this does slightly reduce functionality it does secure your computer and save you from solve major problems from user who don’t know how to use a Mac properly.
Parental Controls are accessed from System Preferences > Parental Controls. The settings are split up into a variety of areas, each designed to limit a certain part of the account. Once as you have selected an account you can go through the settings.
Here you can allow or disallow system wide settings. For example you can use a Simple Finder, which takes away a lot of the advance features found in Finder. For any one who is found or doesn’t use a Mac, this is a must. The allow selected apps section is designed to stop users from using specific apps. I recommend you go through the apps and disallow any ones that you don’t want running. They will still be visible but need an admin password to run.
At the very bottom you can check a couple of different options. I recommend you don’t allow the user to change password or admininster printers.
This allows you to set certain content limits. Its designed to be used in Safari, so you have to disable Firefox or other browsers in the System settings to be 100% secure. Here you can set web restrictions to either block adult websites, or be really restrictive and only allow it for certain sites. I suggest you set the check point to limit access to adult websites only, you want to allow your users some freedom.
Mail & iChat
Pretty self explanitory, this sets the limits for Mail an iChat. It basically restricts usage to people on the pre approved list.
A very useful feature is the Time Limits section. Here you can set a week day time limit, a weekend time limit or usage between certain times. You can be as restrictive or loose as you wish. You can limit usage to certain hours of the day or set the account to stop at a specific time to tell your kids to go to bed. The daily time limit is also quite useful, it best to be a little loose on this limit as you don’t want to be too restrictive. I’m not 100% sure what happens when you hit the limit as I have never tried it out. I suspect it tells the user how long they have left and they are about to be logged out. I thought with Time Limits you had more control on specific times of the day, I must be imagining this section having more features.
The final section is logs, which shows you what has been logged and what websites your user has been visiting. Quite useful.
If you want to extend the controls to more than one account its pretty simple. In the bottom of the side bar there is a very small pin wheel. If you click that you are given the option to copy the settings. If you copy the setting you can then paste them onto a second, third etc account by selecting the second account and pressing paste from the pin wheel option.
When you are done, press the lock in the bottom corner, and the settings can’t be changed without an admin password. The new parental controls will take place immediately. I recommend you keep an eye on the settings and adjust them as needed, you initial settings will probably be too restrictive and need to be loosened up. I tried this on a second Mac for a friend of mine, and they were constantly needing to put in the admin password to override settings. An admin password is needed to override anything on the kids account. I recommend you change this password frequently as kids have a habit of finding it out and learning quicker than they learn math.
If you want to find out more software which can compliment Parent Controls check out this post by Pure Mac. It features some apps that might be useful to yourself.
Hopefully you have learn’t something with this add-on. The fifth post in this series will be coming along soon. I am going to discuss the Services menu which I mentioned in yesterday’s post.