Finder and Application Parental Controls for Your MacBook

When you're setting Parental Controls on your MacBook, of particular importance are the Finder and application controls. Click the Apps tab to modify these settings:

  • Use Simple Finder: It’s a great idea for families and classrooms with smaller children.

    You can restrict your standard-level users even further by assigning them the Simple Finder set of limitations. The default Simple Finder is a highly simplified version of the regular Mac OS X Finder. The simplified Dock contains only the Finder icon, the Trash, and the folders for the user’s approved applications, documents, and shared files.

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    This is the network administrator’s idea of a foolproof interface for Mac OS X: A user can access only those system files and resources needed to do a job, with no room for tinkering or goofing off.

    A Simple Finder user can still make the jump to the full version of the Finder by clicking the Finder menu and choosing Run Full Finder. The user has to enter a correct admin-level username and password.

  • Limit Applications: When this option is selected, you can select the specific applications that appear to the user. These restrictions are in effect whether the user has access to the Full Finder or just the Simple Finder.

    From the Allow App Store Apps pop-up menu, you can choose to block the account from launching any applications purchased from the Apple App Store, or limit the user to installed App Store apps rated for specific ages.

    To allow access to all the applications of a specific type — App Store, Other Apps (such as the iLife and iWork suites), Widgets, and Utilities — click the check box next to the desired group heading to select it. To restrict access to all applications within a group, click the check box next to the heading to deselect it.

    You can also toggle the restriction on and off for specific applications in these groups; click the triangle icon next to each group heading to expand the list and then either select or deselect the check box next to the desired applications. To locate a specific application, click in the Search box and type the application name.

    To add a new application to the Allowed list, drag its icon from the Finder and drop it in the list within the Other Apps group. After you add an application, it appears in the Other Apps group, and you can toggle access to it on and off the way you can with the applications in the named groups.

  • Allow User to Modify the Dock: Select this check box, and the user can remove applications, documents, and folders from the Dock in the Full Finder. (If you don’t want the contents of the Dock changing according to the whims of other users, it’s a good idea to deselect this check box.)

Planning on setting up your MacBook as a temporary public access computer? You can also change the Auto Login account from the Users & Groups pane. Click the Login Options button under the Current User list and then click the Automatic Login pop-up menu to choose the account that automatically logs in when Mac OS X starts up.

Enter the account password on the confirmation sheet that appears and click OK. Automatic Login is not a good security feature in many cases (such as when you’re on the road with a laptop), but it can be a good feature for those preparing a MacBook for public use. If you set the Automatic Login to your public standard-access account, Mac OS X automatically uses the right account if the MacBook is rebooted or restarted.

Don’t forget that you can always choose Log Out from the Apple menu to log in under your own account.

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