How to Add Managed Accounts With Parental Controls

Create a Managed Account to Limit Access to Your Mac

Adding a Managed Account in OS X
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Managed accounts are specialized user accounts that include parental controls. These types of accounts are a great choice when you want to give younger children free access to your Mac, but at the same time restrict the applications they can use or the websites they can visit.

Parental Controls

Parental controls provide a means of restricting and monitoring access to a computer. You can control the applications that can be used, the websites that can be accessed, as well as control which peripherals can be used such as allowing the iSight camera or DVD player to be used.

You can also set time limits on using the computer, as well as limit iChat or Messages and email to receive messages only from accounts that you approve. If your children spend a lot of computer time playing games, you can also limit access to Game Center.

  • Finder and Applications. Depending on the version of OS X you are using, you can choose the normal desktop and Finder, or a special Simple Finder that only allows access to the user’s home folder and any applications you select. If you choose the normal desktop and Finder, you can still restrict access to specific applications, although all of the items in the Applications folder will remain visible. You can also enable or disable the use of the Mac's built-in iSight camera and limit how Mail is used.
  • Content. You can put profanity filters in place to limit access to specified words that are included in the Mac’s Dictionary application. You can also choose to filter websites, or block or allow access to specific websites and their content.
  • Mail and Messages. Almost everyone needs (or at least wants) access to email or Messages. By enabling parental controls, you can decide who will be allowed to send messages to a managed account. You can even choose to be notified if the managed account user tries to contact someone who isn’t on the email and Messages list.
  • Time Management. You can use a managed account to set limits on when the Mac can be used, and for how long it can be used. There are separate limits for weekdays, weekends, and school nights.
  • Logs. You can configure the parental controls to maintain logs of visited websites, blocked websites, application usage, and iChat usage.

Add a Managed Account

The easiest way to set up a managed account is to first log in with an administrator account.

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the 'Accounts' or 'Users & Groups' icon to open the Accounts preferences pane.
  3. Click the lock icon. You will be asked to provide the password for the administrator account you are currently using. Enter your password, and click the 'OK' button.
  4. Click the plus (+) button located below the list of user accounts.
  5. The New Account sheet will appear.
  6. Select 'Managed with Parental Controls' from the New Account dropdown menu.
  7. Use the dropdown menu and select an appropriate age range for the account user.
  8. Enter a name for this account in the 'Name' or 'Full Name' field. This is usually the individual’s full name, such as Tom Nelson.
  9. Enter a nickname or shorter version of the name in the 'Short Name' or 'Account name' field. In my case, I would enter 'tom.' Short names shouldn’t include spaces or special characters, and by convention, use only lower case letters. Your Mac will suggest a short name; you can accept the suggestion or enter the short name of your choice.
  1. Enter a password for this account in the 'Password' field. You can create your own password, or click the key icon next to the 'Password' field and the Password Assistant will help you generate a password.
  2. Enter the password a second time in the 'Verify' field.
  3. Enter a descriptive hint about the password in the 'Password Hint' field. This should be something that will jog your memory if you forget your password. Do not enter the actual password.
  4. Click the 'Create Account' or 'Create User' button.

The new Managed Account will be created. A new home folder will also be created, and Parental Controls will be enabled.

To configure the Parental Controls, please continue this tutorial with: