Use Screen Time on your Mac

macOS Catalina brings all your favourite Screen Time features to Mac. Monitor usage, schedule downtime and set limits across all of your devices.

With Screen Time, you can see how much time you and your kids spend on apps, websites and more. Make informed decisions about how you use your devices, and set limits if you want to. Learn how to turn on Screen Time, use a Screen Time Passcode, track usage, limit usage and approve requests for more time.


Turn on Screen Time

Make sure that your Mac is using macOS Catalina, then follow these steps:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Screen Time. 
  2. Click Options in the lower-left corner.
  3. Click Turn On.
  4. To be able to see usage information for every other device signed in to iCloud with your Apple ID, select ”Share across devices” on each Mac. And on each iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, go to Settings > Screen Time and turn on the same setting.

If you're using Family Sharing to manage a child account, you can turn on Screen Time directly from each of your child's devices. Or follow these steps to do it from your Mac:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Family Sharing.
  2. Click Screen Time in the sidebar, then select your child's name from the list on the right.
  3. Click the Open Screen Time button to return to Screen Time preferences.
  4. Choose your child's name from the menu in the upper-left corner.
  5. Click Options in the lower-left corner.
  6. Click Turn On.

Before deciding whether to select ”Use a Screen Time Passcode”, learn about Screen Time passcodes.

 


Use a Screen Time passcode

Set a passcode so that only you can change Screen Time settings and allow more time when app limits expire. If you're a parent, use this feature to set up enforceable content, communication and privacy limitations for your child.

If you're using Family Sharing to manage a child account, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Screen Time.
  2. Choose your child's name from the menu in the upper-left corner.
  3. Click Options in the lower-left corner.
  4. Select ”Use Screen Time Passcode”, then enter a passcode when prompted.
  5. If you're using the latest version of macOS, you're offered the option to enter your Apple ID to enable Screen Time passcode recovery, in case you forget your Screen Time passcode.

If you're not using Family Sharing to manage a child account, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that you're on the same Mac that is used by your child, and are logged in to the standard account used by the child. If you're not sure what to do, just continue with the steps below: Screen Time will help you.
  2. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Screen Time.
  3. Set up DowntimeApp Limits, Communication Limits and Content & Privacy with all of the limitations that you want for your child.
  4. Click Options in the lower-left corner.
  5. Select ”Use Screen Time Passcode”, then enter a passcode when prompted.
  6. If you're using the latest version of macOS, iOS or iPadOS, you're offered the option to enter your Apple ID to enable Screen Time passcode recovery, in case you forget your Screen Time passcode.

If you're setting a passcode while logged in to your administrator account, an alert will explain that you should do this from a standard account. If you haven't set up a standard account for your child, you can either do that and log in to their account, or choose from these options:

  • Allow this user to administer this computer. If you choose this option, the passcode affects the current user, even though they're also an administrator of this Mac. This isn't recommended, because administrators have macOS privileges that could allow them to work around passcode restrictions.
  • Don't allow this user to administer this computer. If you choose this option, you will be prompted to enter your account password in order to modify your configuration. You will then be guided through the steps to create a new administrator account — for use by the parent. The administrator account that you're currently logged in to will be converted to a standard account — for use by the child.

Learn what to do if you forgot your Screen Time passcode.

 


Track usage

Use the App UsageNotifications, and Pickups features in the Screen Time sidebar to see how much time you have spent using apps and websites.

Screen Time preferences: App Usage

Each feature offers several views:

  • To see usage for one of your devices, choose a device from the menu at the bottom of the window.
  • To switch between days, click within the weekly chart or use the arrow buttons above the chart. To see total usage by week, including whether you spent more or less time on devices compared to the previous week, choose This Week from the date menu at the top of the window.
  • To see usage for a child account, choose the child's name from the menu in the upper-left corner.
      

  App Usage
See how much time you have spent on each app. Click Categories to view usage by categories, such as social networks, productivity or entertainment. To see an app's category, click the information icon  that appears when your pointer is over an app in the list. Or, click the app limit icon to quickly create a new app limit for that app or category.
  

  Notifications
See how many notifications you received from each app. Remember, you can use the devices menu at the bottom of the window to separate the notifications received on your Mac from the notifications received on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
  

  Pickups
See how many times you have picked up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and which app you opened first after picking up the device.

 


Limit usage

Use the Downtime, App Limits, Communication LimitsAlways Allowed and Content & Privacy features in the Screen Time sidebar to schedule downtime and set limits on apps and websites. Limits apply to this Mac and all of your other devices that are using Screen Time and have ”Share across devices” turned on.

To set limits for a child account, choose the child's name from the menu in the upper-left corner, then set up each feature. Or do it from each of your child's devices.

  

  Downtime
Schedule periods during which you can only use the apps that you have allowed. A downtime notification appears five minutes before downtime starts. After downtime has started, the app shows a message saying that you've reached your limit on the app. 

  • Click OK to close the app and honour the limit that you've set. Or click Ignore Limit, then choose One More Minute, Remind Me in 15 Minutes or Ignore Limit For Today. 
  • If you've set a Screen Time passcode, Downtime includes an additional setting: Block At Downtime. When this setting has been selected and you click Ask For More Time when downtime starts, entering the passcode allows you to approve the app for 15 minutes, an hour or all day. Child accounts can click One More Minute once, or click Ask For More Time to send their request to the parent account for approval.
      

  App Limits
Set the amount of time that you want to be able to use apps. You can set limits on specific apps or entire categories of apps.

An app-limit notification appears five minutes before a limit has been reached (expires). After the limit has been reached, the app displays a window saying that you've reached your limit. 

  • Click OK to close the app and honour the limit that you've set. Or click Ignore Limit, then choose One More Minute, Remind Me in 15 Minutes or Ignore Limit For Today. 
  • If you've set a Screen Time passcode, App Limits include an additional setting: ”Block at end of limit”. When this setting has been selected and you click Ask For More Time when a limit has been reached, entering the passcode allows you to approve the app for 15 minutes, an hour or all day. Child accounts can click One More Minute once, or click Ask For More Time to send their request to the parent account for approval.
      

  Communication Limits
Control who your children can communicate with throughout the day and during downtime. These limits apply to Phone, FaceTime, Messages and iCloud contacts. Communication to known emergency numbers identified by your mobile carrier is always allowed. To use this feature, you must have Contacts turned on in iCloud preferences.

 

  Always Allowed
Allow use of certain apps even during downtime or when an app limit has been set for ”All Apps & Categories”. Phone, Messages, FaceTime and Maps are always allowed by default, but you can change that here.
  

  Content & Privacy
Restrict content, purchases and downloads, or configure privacy settings. If you attempt to use one of the restricted items, you see a message explaining why you can't do it. For example, if you visit a blocked website, the message will state that the website was blocked by a content filter. If you're using a Screen Time passcode, the message includes the option to click Add Website. You can then enter the passcode to allow the website. Child accounts can send a request for approval to the parent account.

 


Approve Screen Time requests

The Screen Time sidebar shows requests from a child account that have not been answered. From here, you can manage all of the requests that have been sent by your child. Approve the request for 15 minutes, an hour or a day. Or click "Don't Approve".

Requests for approval also arrive as notifications, and you can approve them directly from the notification:

 


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