How to Fix Parental Controls in OS X

How to Fix Parental Controls in OS X
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Setting Up an Account for Parental Controls

Before you can take advantage of Mac OS X’s parental control features, you have to enable the setting on the user account you want to configure. To do so, open the System Preferences window and click “Accounts” under the “System” section to bring up a list of accounts. Since Mac OS X requires the administrator password for making account changes, click the lock icon on the bottom of the window, then type your account name password to continue.

You’ll now be able to select one of your existing accounts to configure parental controls. Click the account name for which you want to enable parental controls and tick the box next to “Enable Parental Controls.” If you want to set up a new account instead, click the plus sign below the user list to see a screen that looks like the one below:

Select “Managed With Parental Controls” on the “New Account” list, then enter the desired credentials you want to use. Click “Create Account” to finish making the account and to go to the account settings screen for the new account. Click on “Open Parental Controls” to begin configuring your options.

Accounts Screen

Fixing Your Parental Control Options

Mac OS X lets you configure parental control options that restrict the applications a user can open, the content he or she can access, time restrictions and limits for using the computer or specific programs and email and chat privileges. You can also choose to view logs of what the user does on the computer, in addition to chat logs and email transcripts.

Parental Controls Screen

The first tab on the screen is the “System” tab. Here you can choose to allow the user to open specific applications, allow or deny printer use, modify the Dock, burn CDs and DVDs and change his or her password. In addition, there’s an option to “Use Simple Finder” that shows a more user friendly version of Finder for younger users. If you want to allow only certain applications, click the check box next to “Only allow selected applications” and click the triangle next to the application types to view the associated applications. To allow an application,simply tick the box next to the application’s name. To deny any of the settings for printers, CD burning, password changes and dock modification, simply uncheck the boxes next to each option you want to disable.

Content Settings for OS X Parental Controls

The “Content” tab lets you hide profanity or restrict/allow various websites. If you prefer to select the websites a user can visit, you can select the “Allow access to only these websites” option and type the addresses you want to allow the user to access.

Mail and Chat Options for OS X Parental Controls

The “Mail & iChat” tab lets you allow the user to only email or instant message with specific people. If you enable either option, you can add or remove allowed email addresses and screen names by clicking the plus sign to add a user or the minus sign to remove a user. You can also choose to receive email whenever the user tries to contact someone he or she is not authorized to contact.

Time Limits for OS X Parental Controls

The “Time Limits” tab allows you to configure the times and length of time that a user can access the computer. A cool feature is that you can set different allowances for weekdays and weekends or for school nights. To set an option, select the check box next to the option and use the slider to select a time allowance. For the bedtime setting, choose a length of time from the drop-down boxes.

Keeping Track of User Activity

The last tab lets you view logs for the applications a user opened, the chats he or she had and the websites visited or blocked. This is where you want to come to keep an eye on what is being done on the computer. You can choose to view logs for various time frames and can also group the results by website. If you are viewing the websites visited log and see that the user visited a bad website, you can click “Restrict” to prevent the user from viewing that website again. The same process works if you want to deny access to an application, email address or screen name.

Logging in OS X Parental Controls


All screen shots taken by author and all references taken from Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s Official webpage: