How to Enable Parental Controls on a Mac

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Mac Parental Controls

Controlling what your kids see when they go online is a full-time job, but with OS X Leopard (10.5) and above you can now control your kid's accounts with ease. You can limit what applications they use and even how long they can use them for.

1. Log in to your Mac with an administrator account. If you aren't sure if your account has admin privileges, go to the “Users & Groups” section of System Preferences. Admin accounts have the word “Admin” listed below the account name.

Choose users and groups

2. Create an account for your child, by clicking on the plus icon and filling in the form. Give them a password you can remember, so you can tell it to them. While you can leave the password blank, this leaves your computer open to anyone.

Add an account for your child

MORE: How to Replace Your MacBook Pro's Hard Drive with an SSD

3. Check the “Enable parental controls” checkbox with your child's account highlighted. Then click on the “Open Parental Controls” button.

enable parental controls

4. Fill in your administrator password when you're prompted for it. Only administrators can adjust the parental controls.

enter your admin account password

5. Choose the features you want to block. We recommend at least:

  • Click “Limit Applications” and choose the apps you want your kids to have access to.
    Limit applications
  • Click “Use Simple Finder” for children under six and other inexperienced users.
    simple finder
  • On the Web tab, make sure to check “Try to limit access to adult websites automatically.”
    limit adult sites automatically
  • On the People tab, check the “Limit Mail to allowed contacts” and then list the contacts that are allowed.
    limit mail
  • On the Time Limits tab, set the time limits appropriate for your child.
    set time limits
  • On the Other tab, select all the checkboxes.
    other parental controls

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Jennifer Kyrnin
Jennifer Kyrnin,
Jennifer Kyrnin has been building websites since 1995, and teaching others how to do it since 1997. She's written several books on the topic, and is probably working on another one right now. And she does it all on her beloved iMac and sometimes her MacBook Air.
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