How to Set up Parental Controls on Your Mac

BY Sandy Stachowiak

Published 29 Jun 2017

If your family uses a shared computer, then setting up parental controls for children is essential. This can help you limit access to apps, websites, and stores, create a schedule for computer time, and protect their privacy. These steps and explanations will help you with the process for creating a safe Mac environment for your kids.

Create a User Account

Step 1: Click the Apple logo in your menu and choose System Preferences.

Step 2: Select Users & Groups.

Step 3: Click the lock to enable changes and enter your password when prompted.

Mac Unlock Users

Step 4: Click the + button to add a new user.

Step 5: In the New Account dropdown box, select Managed with Parental Controls.

Mac Add Managed User

Step 6: Complete the rest of the information for your child and click Create User.

Open the Parental Controls

Option 1: If you just created the user’s account, click the Open Parental Controls button on the user screen.

Mac Open Parental Controls

Option 2: If the user’s account already exists, click the Apple logo in your menu. Then, choose System Preferences > Parental Controls. Click the lock icon to enable changes and enter your password.

In either case, make sure that you have the correct user selected on the left before making any changes.

Set up the Controls

Apps – Choose Access to Apps

The first section of the controls lets you decide which apps your child should have access to on your Mac. Simply check or uncheck the items.

If you choose to Limit Mail, you can click Manage to provide a list of allowed contacts. You can also enter an email address to be notified if the user tries to exchange messages with someone not on the list.

Mac Manage Contacts Parental

If you decide to Limit Applications used on the Mac, you can select the ones you want in the Allowed Apps box. Just click the arrow next to Other Apps and Utilities to open the lists of apps that you can choose.

Mac Limit Applications

Web – Set Browser Restrictions

Choose your option from the three radio buttons displayed for unrestricted, limited with customization, or specific website access. Since this is for your child, you will likely pick the third option for allowing access to only certain sites.

Mac Add Link Parental

Click the + button and choose Add Bookmark to enter a link or choose Add Folder to create a new folder.

To remove a link or folder from the list, select it and click the – button.

Stores – Disable or Restrict Stores

The next section lets you disable access to the iTunes Store, iTunes U, and the iBooks Store. Just check or uncheck those options as desired.

Mac Store Access Parental

You can then restrict media such as movies, music, and books. Again, check or uncheck the items as necessary. And, note that movies, television shows, and apps offer options for ratings and ages.

Time – Create a Computer Time Schedule

To ensure that your child only accesses the computer during designated times, you can set up a customized schedule. This is helpful for making sure homework gets done, bedtime is adhered to, and reducing overuse.

Weekday and Weekend Time Limits

Check one or both boxes and then adjust the amount of time per day. You can choose from 30 minutes to eight hours for each option in 30-minute increments.

Mac Limit Days Parental

Bedtime Settings

Along with limiting the number of hours your child can use the computer each day, you can limit when it can be used. For school nights and weekends, check one or both boxes and then adjust the allowable times for each.

Mac Limit Time Bedtime

Privacy – Manage the Privacy Settings

First, you can manage the apps requesting access to items like location, photos, and contacts. Click the Manage Privacy button to make adjustments.

Mac Privacy Parental

Second, you can mark specific apps to lock their current settings. This means that new apps cannot gain access to them and include items like calendars, reminders, diagnostics, and social media networks.

Other – Miscellaneous Controls

The final section within Parental Controls lets you enable or disable specific actions. These include access to Siri, printer settings, CD and DVD burning, and more.

Mac Other Parental Controls

Additional Tips

If you have a question or would like further details on a specific control, click the question mark icon from the bottom right corner.

To view activity for your child, click Logs from the bottom right corner. Choose the time period from the top and then click Applications or Web.

When you complete all adjustments, be sure to click the lock icon once more to lock in the changes.

Mac Help Parental Controls

Now that you have set up the parental controls, you can feel at ease when your child is using the family Mac. And remember, you can make adjustments to these controls at any time. Do you find these parental controls to be helpful with your child?