Use Screen Time on your Mac

With Screen Time, you can monitor usage, schedule downtime and set limits across all of your devices.

MacBook Pro with Screen Time System Preferences window open

Use Screen Time to see how much time you and your children spend on apps, websites and more. Then make informed decisions about how you use your devices and, if you'd like to, you can set limits.


Turn on Screen Time

Follow these steps in macOS Catalina or later:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Screen Time. 
  2. Click Options in the bottom left-hand 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 top left-hand corner.
  5. Click Options in the bottom left-hand corner.
  6. Click Turn On.

Before deciding whether to select “Use a Screen Time Passcode”, find out 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 limits 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 top left-hand corner.
  3. Click Options in the bottom left-hand corner.
  4. Select “Use Screen Time Passcode”, then enter a passcode when prompted.
  5. If you're using the latest macOS, you'll be 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 you're on the same Mac used by the child and are logged in to the standard account used by the child. If you're not sure what to do, just continue following the steps below; Screen Time will help you.
  2. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Screen Time.
  3. Set up Downtime, App Limits, Communication Limits and Content & Privacy with all of the limits that you want for your child.
  4. Click Options in the bottom left-hand corner.
  5. Select “Use Screen Time Passcode”, then enter a passcode when prompted.
  6. If you're using the latest macOS, iOS or iPadOS, you'll be 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 when 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 the adult to use. The administrator account that you're currently logged in to will be converted to a standard account for the child to use.

Learn what to do if you've forgotten your Screen Time passcode.


Track usage

Use the App UsageNotifications and Pickups features in the Screen Time sidebar to see how much time you spend on apps and websites.

Screen Time preferences: App Usage

Each feature offers several views:

  • To see usage for only 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 weekly usage, including how much time you spent compared with last 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 top left-hand corner.
      

App Usage icon
App Usage

See how much time you've spent using each app. Click Categories to view usage by category, 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 icon
Notifications

See how many notifications you've 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 icon
Pickups

See how many times you've picked up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and which app was the first one you opened 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 top left-hand corner, then set up each feature.* Or do it from each of your child's devices.

Downtime icon
Downtime

Schedule periods during which you can only use the apps that you've 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 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 icon
App Limits

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

Screen Time preferences: App Limits

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

  • Click OK to close the app and honour the limit 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 includes an additional setting: “Block at end of limit”. When this setting has been selected and you have clicked 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 icon
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 with known emergency numbers identified by your network provider is always allowed. To use this feature, you must have Contacts turned on in iCloud preferences.

Screen Time preferences: Communication

Always Allowed icon
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 icon
Content & Privacy

Restrict content, purchases and downloads, or configure privacy settings. If you attempt to use one of the restricted items, you'll see a message explaining why you can't. For example, if you visit a blocked website, the message states 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

Requests icon
Requests

The Screen Time sidebar includes a Requests section when you have unanswered requests from a child account. From here, you can manage all of the requests that your child has sent you. Approve the request for 15 minutes, an hour or a day. Or click Don't Approve.

Screen Time preferences: Requests

Requests for approval also arrive as notifications and you can approve these directly from the notifications:

Screen Time Request notification on macOS desktop


Learn more

* If you used your iPhone to set up an Apple Watch for a family member, you need a device using iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 to set up or adjust Screen Time for that watch.

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