A Mac laptop from Apple makes a great family computer. They are easy to use, and they aren’t as susceptible to viruses and spyware as Windows machines. This makes them perfect for kids and the whole family. You may want to keep one handy for the entire family to use. If you do, you don’t want your kids or others in your house having access to your files, and you want to make sure you have an account that stays in good health no matter what if you do run into problems.
That is where multiple users comes into play. Luckily, macOS, being based on UNIX, handles this with ease. All you have to do is setup the new accounts and then you are ready to go. Of course, if you don’t know how to do it, that can make things difficult. However, it is very easy to setup new accounts with the privileges they need in order to run as the members of your family need them to do.
Today, let’s take a quick look at how you do it. The process is easy and only takes a few short minutes to create as many accounts as you need.
Benefits of Multiple Accounts
There are many benefits of running multiple accounts on your Mac, or any laptop for that matter.
- Separate Files – Separate accounts allow users in your household to store their files in different locations that no one else has access to. This limits the risk of other people accidentally deleting files they shouldn’t.
- Customization – Each user in your home can customize their toolbars, wallpapers and much more the way they want it.
- Custom Privileges – Not every user needs admin rights, having multiple accounts allows you to set who has what type of rights so you can limit what each user can and cannot do on the Mac.
- Easier Troubleshooting – If you do have a problem with your Mac, it will be much easier to troubleshoot if you have multiple accounts. You can check to see if the problem is on that one account or system wide and you can easily create a new account if something has gone wrong with that account without impacting the other users of your laptop.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to use multiple user accounts on your family Mac. It makes you wonder why you haven’t been doing it all along, doesn’t it?
Create New User Accounts
Creating new user accounts is easy, all you have to do is take a trip to the System Preferences of your Mac and you can get it done quickly. You will need to make sure you have at least one master account that has admin rights. If you just setup your new Mac, the account you setup during that process will do the trick. Ready? Okay, let’s get to it.
- Go to Apple < System Preferences.
- Click on Users & Groups.
- Click the Lock and enter your administrator user password.
- Click the + Button.
- Enter the new user details. You will need to fill it out completely and set everything from their access rights to their full name and username. Don’t skip any section here as it could help you if you have issues down the road.
- Close System Preferences
User Creation/Administration Tips
Now that you know how to do it, let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you create the accounts properly for everyone in your home.
Tip 1: Create a Unique Account for Everyone
Each user for your computer should always have their own account. This keeps all their files separate from one another so you never have to worry about one user accidentally deleting files that belong to someone else. It also improves security. If something does go wrong, perhaps only one account will be impacted. This makes it much easier to get back up and running.
Tip 2: Keep Admin Accounts to a Minimum
Administrator accounts have special privileges on a computer. They can access some of the areas of the file system that are normally off limits and they can install and delete anything on the computer. While this type of account should be the master account on the computer, not every user needs this in your household. You want to control what gets installed on the computer, after all. So when you setup user accounts, try limiting who has admin rights and who doesn’t.
Tip 3: Always Log Off When You Are Done
When you are finished using the computer, always remember to log off. That will force everyone in your family to log on before they can use the computer. Teach every member of your family how to do this and make sure they do. That way if someone else sits down at the computer, they won’t be tempted to use an account that is already signed on instead of using their own login.
Tip 4: Use Unique Passwords
As the owner of the computer and the computer admin, you should know all the passwords for your family computer. That way you can get into everything if there is a problem. However, no one else should know each other’s passwords. At the same time, each user password should be unique to that user only. This improves security and reduces accidental logins on the wrong accounts. Trust me, while you will have more passwords to remember, you will be glad you set it up this way later.
Tip 5: Use Other Accounts for Testing If There Is a Problem
If you start having a problem with your Mac laptop, then you may want to do a little testing on it to try and figure out what the problem is. Often the problems are limited to one account. It could be because of something they did or something they installed. When troubleshooting problems, try a different account to see if you have the same problems. If you don’t, that account may be corrupt and need to be remade.
Tip 6: Consider a Backup Admin Account
If you only have one admin account on your computer, I would recommend creating a backup admin account on the machines. Don’t share the password with anyone and don’t use this account for anything. That way, if you end up having a problem with your admin account, you have another account with the same rights as your account that you can fall back on to troubleshoot the problem. If you don’t do this, you could end up having major problems down the road.
Tip 7: Make Use of Guest Accounts
Normally, I recommend disabling the guest accounts on a computer. This account is used if someone just needs to hop on quickly to look something up that normally doesn’t use your computer. The guest account keeps them out of your personal files. However, if you don’t have guests in your home that use your computer, I would disable the account. If you do, then definitely make use of them and don’t allow them to use one of the logins. Of course, never give them your password either if you don’t have a guest account, and make sure they use an account without admin rights if you have to let them use your machine.
Users on All Operating Systems
While today this guide focused primarily on how to do it on a Mac, you can create multiple users on all types of computers. From budget Windows laptops to Chromebooks, you can make multiple users to keep everyone’s stuff safe and separate. The process is a little different on each platform, and we will cover that on another day, but the end result is the same. Each person in your home will have their own account that they customize however they want.
I think I have made my case. Don’t you think? Using multiple users on your Mac laptop, or any laptop for that matter, just makes sense. If you don’t, you could end up having a lot more problems down the road, and some that you won’t be able to get out of without doing something a little drastic.
On a Mac, which is really what this guide is about, it is easier than ever to create the user accounts you need. With just a few clicks, you can easily create unique accounts for every user of your Mac laptop. Just make sure you are thorough during the creation and record the passwords as you may need to access them in the future if you have issues. Be careful when giving out admin rights, as well. Don’t ever give a user more rights than they really need to operate the computer.
Do you use multiple accounts on your family computer? If so, I would love to hear how you set it up for your family. Tell me all about it in the comments below. As always, if you have questions about creating new users, comment and I will do my best to answer them as quickly as I can.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.