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How to Make Mac OS X Snow Leopard Safer for Children

4 of 4 in Series: The Essentials of Setting Parental Controls in Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard offers parental controls designed to make your child’s computer experience safer, but it also offers the Simple Finder that gives you even more control over what various users on your system can do.

The default Simple Finder is a highly simplified version of the regular Mac OS X Finder. The simplified Dock contains only the following: the Finder icon; the Trash; and the folders for the user’s approved applications, documents, and shared files.

Limit users to the Simple Finder to deny access to files.
Limit users to the Simple Finder to deny access to files.

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 Finder and choosing Run Full Finder. But the user has to enter a correct admin-level username and password.

The Simple Finder is accessed through System controls. Click the System tab to modify these settings:

  • Use Simple Finder: The Simple Finder is ideal for families and classrooms with smaller children.

  • Only Allow Selected 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.

    To allow access to all the applications of a specific type — iLife, iWork, Internet, Widgets, Other, 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 mark or clear 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 Allow list, drag its icon from the Finder and drop it in the list within the Other group. After you add an application, it appears in the Other group, and you can toggle access to it on and off like the applications in the named groups.

  • Can Administer Printers: With this check box selected, the user can modify the printers and printer queues within the Print & Fax pane in System Preferences. If this option is disabled, the user can still print to the default printer and switch to other assigned printers but can’t add or delete printers or manage the Mac OS X print queue.

  • Can Burn CDs and DVDs: Deselect this check box to prevent the user from recording CDs or DVDs via the built-in disc recording features in Mac OS X. (Note, however, that if you load a third-party recording program, such as Toast, the user can still record discs with it unless you bar access to that specific program.)

  • Can Change Password: Select this check box to allow the user to change the account password.

  • Can Modify the Dock: Select this check box, and the user can remove applications, documents, and folders from the Dock in the Full Finder.

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