When you have a Mac that is used by the whole family, it’s easy to forget just how much your kids can do on your machine when you’re not around. While there’s always a danger that files and folders could be lost, the bigger risk is that the kids venture onto the internet and access sites that are inappropriate for them. If this could be the case in your family, it’s time to start thinking about setting up Parental Controls on your Mac.
What you can do with these controls is surprisingly detailed – if you simply want to limit the webpages that your kids can access, you can add a list of allowable sites and nothing more. But you also have the ability to control how long they are allowed to use the computer for each day, set limits on specific applications that they can use and monitor what they do when they’re on the Mac. The idea is that you can let your children have what they think is a free reign on your Mac while keeping them safe.
Click the lock in the bottom-left of Parental Controls in System Preferences and enter an administrator Username and Password to make changes.
You should now see a list of all the users of your machine on the left-side of the window. Choose the right name and click Enable Parental Controls.
You can choose to limit the Finder for users, as well as choosing which apps the user will be allowed to use. You can also set an age limit for downloading.
If another user changes the Dock, losing quick access to applications, you can stop them altering the Dock entirely by checking this box.
You can see what your other users have been doing by clicking Logs at the bottom of the window, and restrict certain applications if necessary.
If you want to restrict what sites users can access, do so in the Web tab. You can limit access to adult sites automatically, or select sites that a user can access.
If your child has access to applications like Mail and iChat, you may want to make sure they’re not contacting anyone they shouldn’t.
In the next tab you can limit how long the computer can be used for each day, and set a Bedtime for both school nights and weekends.
Finally, this section allows you to limit features like CD and DVD burning, as well as ensuring inappropriate words are hidden in the dictionary.
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