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How to Limit the Capabilities of a User in Mac OS X Lion

5 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of File and Folder Permissions in Mac OS X Lion

Sometimes you want to limit what users of your computer can access in Mac OS X Lion. For example, you might want to make certain programs off limits. You do this by clicking the Parental Controls button in Lion's Users & Groups System Preferences pane.

  1. Choose Apple→System Preferences (or click the System Preferences icon in the Dock).

  2. In the System Preferences window, click the Users & Groups icon.

  3. Click the user’s name to select it, click the Enable Parental Controls check box, and then click the Open Parental Controls button.

    Note that clicking the Open Parental Controls button without first selecting the Enable Parental Controls check box puts you in the Parental Controls preference pane with a button front and center for you to click to turn Parental Controls on. So either select the check box as instructed or click the Enable Parental Controls button here.

    To change any of these items, you must be logged in using an account that has administrator powers, and the account you’re modifying can’t have administrator powers.

    The Parental Controls System Preferences pane for that person appears with five tabs: Apps, Web, People, Time Limits, and Other.

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  4. Set the controls in each of the five tabs.

    • Apps: Determine which applications the user may access.

    • Web: Control access to websites.

    • People: Determine whether Mail or iChat (or both) communicants will be limited to a specified list.

    • Time Limits: Set time limits for weekdays and weekends, and prevent access to this computer during specified hours on school nights and weekends.

    • Other: Determine whether profanity is hidden during Dictionary access, control whether the user can add or remove printers or modify printer settings, prevent (or allow) burning CDs and DVDs in the Finder, and control whether the user is allowed to change their password.

  5. Quit the System Preferences application or choose a different System Preferences pane.

    Your changes are saved when you leave the Parental Controls pane.

A quicker way to set or change Parental Controls for an already existing account is to click the Parental Controls icon in the System Preferences application (instead of Users & Groups).

Last but not least, you can apply Parental Controls to the Guest Account, but you can’t apply them to any account that has administrator permissions.

To turn off Parental Controls for a Managed account, navigate to the Parental Controls System Preferences pane, select the account in the list on the left, click the Action menu at the bottom of the list (the one that looks like a gear), and choose Turn off Parental Controls for <username>.

If you want to apply the same Parental Controls settings to more than one user, set them as described above for the first user and then select that account in the Accounts list in Parental Controls, click the Action menu, and choose Copy Settings. Then select the user you wish to have the same settings, click the Action menu, and choose Paste Settings.

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