Americans will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this week, which means many of us will be hosting out-of-town relatives. Relatives who will want to use our Macs.
While it’s fine for Uncle Frank to “check email real quick,” it’s not OK for him to poke around your stuff. Mac OS X Lion makes it easy to create a guest account and automatically delete any files the guest creates. Here’s how.
Set it up
- Open System Preferences and click Users & Groups.
- Click Guest Account on the left-hand side.
- Enable/disable automatic login. More on this later.
- Configure parental controls (optional).
- Enable/disable shared folders.
Automatic login tells your Mac to boot into a certain user’s account at startup. If you’ll be using the Mac while your guests are in town, feel free to have your Mac boot into your usual account. However, if Uncle Frank will be house-sitting while you’re away, have your Mac boot into the guest account. That way Uncle Frank won’t see your real account.
No password, remote access
The guest account does not require a password, and will not allow remote connection. So you don’t have to try and predict a password that your guest will remember.
Any file created by the guest user and stored in that account’s Home Folder will be deleted each time the guest logs out. You’ll want to warn them about this, but also rest assured that the multi-gig torrent file he’s downloaded will be deleted as soon has the machine is shut down.
Parental controls (PC) offer more detailed control over what a user has access to. Select “Enable parental controls” and then configure the PC settings to your liking.
You can create a folder that’s shared between your Mac’s guest account and another account, but I never have.
That’s it! Your Mac is now ready to receive your relatives’ prodding and poking. Don’t worry, they’ll go home soon.