OS X Mavericks: About users, administrators, groups, and guests

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About users, administrators, groups, and guests

If you are the only user of your Mac, you probably have a single user set up with administrative privileges and a single home folder.

But if more than one person regularly uses your Mac, you should set each person up as a user. Each user has a separate home folder and can adjust settings without affecting the other users. You can set up a password for each user and require users to log in and log out each time they use the Mac.

Use the information here to decide how many and what types of users you want to set up on your Mac. To create new users, see:

Set up users on your Mac


An administrator can add and manage other users, install apps, and change settings. The new user you create when you first set up your Mac is an administrator.

Your Mac can have multiple administrators. You can create new ones, and convert standard users to administrators.

Don’t set up automatic login for an administrator. If you do, someone could simply restart your Mac and gain access with administrator privileges.

To keep your Mac secure, don’t share administrator names and passwords. Log out when you leave your Mac so unauthorized people don’t use your Mac with administrator privileges. Require a password to wake your Mac from sleep or screen saver.

Require a password after waking your Mac

Standard user

A standard user can install apps and change settings for his or her own use. Standard users can’t add or change other users.

Managed with parental controls

A user who is managed with parental controls can access only the apps and content you specify. You can restrict the user’s contacts, and place time limits on computer use.

Sharing only

If you want to let others share your files or your screen with a user name and password, but don’t want to let them log in to your Mac, add them as sharing-only users.

To give the new user permission to access your shared files or screen, you may need to change settings in the File Sharing, Screen Sharing, or Remote Management panes of Sharing preferences.


Groups let you assign the same folder and file access privileges to multiple users. You can grant a group specific access privileges for a folder or a file, and all members of the group share those access privileges. You can also assign a group specific access privileges for each of your shared folders.

You control a group’s access to your shared folders by setting access permissions in the File Sharing section of Sharing preferences.

Set permissions

Share your files


To let others use your Mac temporarily and without adding them as users, set up a guest user. You can set restrictions on the guest user account so when a guest logs in to your Mac, they can access only the items you want to share.

Guests don’t need a password to log in. While logged in, they can’t change user settings or computer settings. They also can’t log in remotely when remote login is turned on in Sharing preferences. Files created by a guest are stored in a temporary folder, but this folder and its contents are deleted when the guest logs out.

The guest account works with the Find My Mac feature of iCloud. If someone finds your Mac and logs in as a guest, and then uses Safari to access the Internet, iCloud can detect this activity.

If FileVault is turned on, guests can only use Safari and can’t access your encrypted disk or create files. For more information, see:

Encrypt the information on your disk with FileVault

Published Date: Sep 11, 2017