How to Rank User Accounts on Your Mac - dummies

How to Rank User Accounts on Your Mac

By Edward C. Baig

You create your own user account as part of the initial computer setup on your Mac. But not all user accounts are created equal, and yours is extra-special. That’s because, as the owner of the machine, you’re the head honcho, the Big Cheese, or (in the bureaucracy of your computer) the administrator.

Being the Big Cheese doesn’t earn you an expense account or a plush corner office with a view of the lakefront. It does, however, carry executive privileges. You get to lord over not only who else can use the machine, but also who, if anyone, gets the same administrative rights you have.

Think long and hard before you grant anyone else these dictatorial powers. Only an administrator can muck around with system settings such as Date & Time and Energy Saver. And only an administrator can effectively hire and fire by creating or eliminating other user accounts. Naturally, an administrator can also install software.

Here’s a quick look at the hierarchy of accounts:

  • Administrator: As outlined previously, you have almighty powers, at least when it comes to your computer.

  • Standard: You can’t mess with other people’s accounts. But you pretty much have free rein when it comes to your own account. That means you can install software, alter the look of your Desktop, and so on.

  • Managed with Parental Controls: Consider this Mom’s and Dad’s Revenge. The kids may get away with murder around the house, but they can’t get away with murder on the Mac.

  • Sharing Only: This type of account is a limited account for sharing files remotely across a network.

  • Group: By creating a group account, you can share files with the members of said group. It’s really a type of account comprised of one or more accounts.

  • Guest: Willing to let the babysitter play with your Mac after putting the little ones to bed? A guest account lets her log in without a password (though you can still restrict her activities through parental controls). You can allow guests to connect to shared folders on the system. Or not.

    The beauty of one of these accounts is that after a guest has logged out, traces of her stay are removed, right down to the temporary home folder created for her visit.