Our computers are truly an extension of ourselves. We adjust settings, wallpapers, and application notifications to fit exactly how we work and play. This is why when a friend or family member asks to use your Mac, even for a minute to check email, you probably twinge a little bit.
If you use a Apple computer you probably have quite a bit of vital information and files on it ranging from work to play, that you’d rather someone not mistakenly delete or move. On a more personal note, you don’t want to explain why you have your Dock on the left side and why you have a “Reality TV” bookmarks folder, either.
Thankfully, Apple gives us the ability to allow guests to log into our Macs whenever they need to without having access to any of your files. This lets them use your Mac safely and without having to explain your choice of wallpaper images ever again. Here’s how to set up and use the guest account in OS X.
Understanding the Guest AccountBefore getting into how to set your guest account up, you should probably understand what it does and what restrictions are in place. First, the guest account does not save files, caches, or passwords after the account logs out. This means that even if your friend forgets to log out of his or her email, the system will do it automatically when the guest account itself is logged out of.
Next, there is no password required for the guest account. As long as it’s enabled, it can be used. This is perfect for leaving your Mac at home with a houseguest.
Finally, you can control what apps and sites are limited to the guest account in System Preferences > Parental Controls.
In short, the guest account is a dummy account that’s fresh every time you log in. Make sure your guests know this, as files they download or save will be deleted upon log out. Now that you understand what the account does, here’s how to set it up and manage it.
Setting Up the Guest AccountHead over to System Preferences by clicking the Apple logo in the upper left corner and selecting it. Next, click on Users & Groups and in the bottom left corner, click the Lock icon.
You’ll be prompted to enter your username and password to unlock the pane. Once unlocked, click on the Guest User option in the left sidebar. After selecting this, make sure the first checkbox is checked to Allow guests to log in to this computer.
Leave the parental controls box checked, as we’ll look at this next. The final check box is up to you and how you have your system set up. You can share folders with documents, pictures, or other files that you want the guest to have access to, or you can lock the account out from these shared folders, it’s your call.
Once this is done you can close the window and your Guest account is all set up. It will appear on your login screen when you log out or restart your Mac, so make sure automatic login is turned off. This can be done by opening up System Preferences once again and clicking on Security & Privacy. Here, you’ll need to unlock the pane with your credentials again, and once unlocked just check the box next to Disable automatic login.
Finally, head over to Users & Groups again and click on Login Options in the sidebar. Here, make sure the Display login window as item is set to List of users. This will make selecting the Guest account quick and easy.
Please contact us for any questions you may have about Apple OS X.