How to Set Parental Controls on a Mac

Introduction

In This Guide
You'll Learn How To:
  • Setup separate accounts for your children
  • Configure parental controls for your children
Before We Begin:
  • Be at your Mac
  • Have your macOS Administrator password
macOS Parental Controls

1 Parental Controls Separate Accounts Check

Profiles

In order to properly use Parental Controls on your Mac, each user of the computer must have their own separate log in.

If you intend to have your child as the main user of the computer, that's okay; you would still need yourself as an administrator, and your child as a restricted account. That way, you can control the settings and intervene whenever your help is needed. This helps you monitor your child's activity.

? Do you have separate user accounts for you and your child on your Mac?

  1. Yes
  2. No

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In This Guide
You'll Learn How To:
  • Setup separate accounts for your children
  • Configure parental controls for your children
Before We Begin:
  • Be at your Mac
  • Have your macOS Administrator password
macOS Parental Controls
Profiles

In order to properly use Parental Controls on your Mac, each user of the computer must have their own separate log in.

If you intend to have your child as the main user of the computer, that's okay; you would still need yourself as an administrator, and your child as a restricted account. That way, you can control the settings and intervene whenever your help is needed. This helps you monitor your child's activity.

In order to use the Parental Control features, your child's account must be a "Managed" account.

Check for Managed Account

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Users and Groups.
    macOS Users and Groups Preferences
  3. Select the Lock icon in the corner to unlock Users & Groups.
    Users and Groups with lock highlighted
  4. Enter your password and select Unlock.
    Unlock Users and Groups with Password and Unlock highlighted.
  5. Look in the list on the left. Make sure one of the accounts listed shows it is "Managed".
    Users and Groups with Managed account highlighted.
  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Parental Controls.
    Parental Controls
  3. Select the lock in the bottom-left corner to make changes to the settings.
    Parental Controls with lock highlighted.
  4. Enter your password, and select Unlock.
    Unlock Parental Controls with password and Unlock button highlighted.
  5. Select your child's account on the left.
    Parental Controls with child's account highlighted.

Parental Controls

Each tab at the top provides access to areas you can limit access, set up filtering, and look at logs.

Apps
Parental Controls Apps
Allow use of camera
If your Mac has a webcam, like a laptop, you can enable or disable it for your child.
Allow joining Game Center multiplayer games
The Apple Game Center has multiplayer games, you can set it so your child can't join them.
Limit Mail to allowed contacts
You can set it so your child can only send email to people you approve.
Limit Applications on this Mac
You can limit what programs your child has access to on your Mac.
Web
Parental Controls Web
Allow unrestricted access to websites
Does not block any browsing for your child.
Try to limit access to adult websites
While no web filter is perfect, this will attempt to limit access your child has to adult websites.
Allow access to only these websites
Your child will only have access to specific websites you specifically list here.
Stores
Parental Control Stores
Disable
You can disable access entirely to the iTunes Store, or just iTunes U, and Apple Books.
Restrict
Your child will still have access to the stores, but you can limit their access to apps, movies, TV shows and books with adult themes or content in them.
Time
Parental Controls Time
Weekday time limits
Lets you limit your child's use of the computer Monday through Friday to a set number of hours.
Weekend time limits
Lets you limit your child's use of the computer on Saturday and Sunday to a set number of hours.
Bedtime
Lets you set specific times when the computer won't allow your child access, so they can't use the computer during their bed time.
Privacy
Parental Controls Privacy
Privacy preferences limit access to child's data
Here, you can manage the privacy settings of your child's account, so an app won't be allowed to access things like location, photos, or contacts for your child.
Allow changes to
You can remove the check mark here to lock these settings, so your child can't bypass any restrictions you put into place.
Other
Privacy Settings Other
Turn off Siri & Dictation
Prevents your child from accessing the Siri personal assistant, or to dictation (talking to your computer, and it typing it out for you).
Disable editing of printers and scanners
Prevents your child from changing, adding, or removing printer and scanners.
Block CD and DVD burning in the Finder
If your Mac has a DVD burner, this prevents your child from making CDs and DVDs on their own.
Restrict explicit language in Dictionary
This limits your child's ability to see inappropriate words in the dictionary and thesaurus, as well as certain informational sites like Wikipedia.
Prevent the Dock from being modified
The Dock is the bar, usually at the bottom of your screen, with all the apps you have quick access to. Setting this will make it so your child can't add or remove items.
Use Simple Finder
Drastically simplifies the desktop so young or inexperienced users won't be confused or lost when using the computer.

As your child uses their account on the computer, the computer keeps track of the programs they use, and how long they use them. Also, websites they visit using the Safari web browser are noted, so you can review this information to help keep an eye on what your child is up to.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Parental Controls.
    Parental Controls
  3. Select the lock in the bottom-left corner to make changes to the settings.
    Parental Controls with lock highlighted.
  4. Enter your password, and select Unlock.
    Unlock Parental Controls with password and Unlock button highlighted.
  5. Select your child's account on the left.
    Parental Controls with child's account highlighted.
  6. Select Logs on the bottom right.
    Parental Control with Logs button highlighted.

Parental Control Logs

There are 2 tabs here to help you check what your child has been using on the computer. You can adjust how far back you want to look using the drop-down at the top.

Applications
This shows what apps your child has been using, and how much time they've spent with each.Parental Control Logs Applications
Web
As your child browses the web, you'll see their activity here, including the date, time, and how long your child spent on each page.Parental Control Logs Web

To use Parental Controls on your Mac, your child's account must be a Managed account.

Converting Account to Managed Account

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Users and Groups.
    macOS Users and Groups Preferences
  3. Select the Lock icon in the corner to unlock Users & Groups.
    Users and Groups with lock highlighted
  4. Enter your password and select Unlock.
    Unlock Users and Groups with Password and Unlock highlighted.
  5. Highlight the account for your child, and place a check mark next to Enable parental controls.
    Child account with Enable parental controls highlighted.
  6. If the account was an Administrator account, a warning will show. Select Enable.
    Administrator to child account with Enable highlighted.
    A child's Managed account cannot be a Administrator account.

Create New User

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Users and Groups.
    macOS Users and Groups Preferences
  3. Select the Lock icon in the corner to unlock Users & Groups.
    Users and Groups with lock highlighted
  4. Enter your password and select Unlock.
    Unlock Users and Groups with Password and Unlock highlighted.
  5. Select the icon in the bottom left to create a new account.
    Users and Groups with Add button highlighted.
  6. The New Account dialog will open. At the top, select the type of account you'd like to create.
    New Account dialog with New Account type highlighted.
    Administrator
    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.
    Standard
    Standard users are set up by an administrator. Standard users can install apps and change their own settings, but can’t add other users or change other users’ settings.
    Managed with Parental Controls
    Users who are managed with parental controls can access only the apps and content specified by the administrator managing the user. The administrator can restrict the user’s contacts and website access, and place time limits on computer use.
    Sharing Only
    Sharing-only users can access shared files remotely, but can’t log in to or change settings on the computer. To give the 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.
  7. If you are creating an account that is Managed with Parental Controls, select the age range of the child.
    Age range selection options.
  8. For all user types, enter the name of the user, the account name, and create a password and enter it twice.
    You can also enter a Password hint, to give the user an idea if they happen to forget their password.
    User Account Creation with all fields highlighted.
  9. Select Create User.
  10. You will see your new user appear on the list on the left.

Login Options

When you have multiple users, it's usually best to make sure your Mac is setup to require each user to log on to the computer.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Users and Groups.
    macOS Users and Groups Preferences
  3. Select the Lock icon in the corner to unlock Users & Groups.
    Users and Groups with lock highlighted
  4. Enter your password and select Unlock.
    Unlock Users and Groups with Password and Unlock highlighted.
  5. Select Login Options at the bottom left.
    Users and Groups with Login Options highlighted.
  6. For Automatic login, select Off.
    Users and Groups Login Options with Automatic login set to off and highlighted.

Using Separate Logins

When you're done using your computer, you can Log Out or Shut Down your computer.

Log Out
Log Out to close everything you have open and allow someone else to log back in right away. The next person to use the machine will be asked to choose their account and enter their password.Apple menu with Log out highlighted.
Shut Down
Shut Down your computer to turn it off. The next time you turn it on, people will be asked to choose their account and enter their password to use the computer.macOS Mojave Apple menu with Shut Down highlighted.
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