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The whole family on one Mac

The benefits of being able to work with more people on one Mac are:
- You only need to buy one computer. Macs are expensive to buy, so that makes a difference.
- Each user has their own Home folder with files
- Each also has its own program settings
- Everyone has their own e-mail, music, movies, etcetera
- Each user's work is separate, so no discussions about changed or lost documents
- Of course files can also be shared
- Parents have control over their children's computer behavior

In short: When YOU have logged in, all these programs adapt to YOU! If your fiancé logs in, everything will be adjusted to him / her!


The structure of macOS
You probably haven't noticed at all, but your Mac's hard drive is structured. Your Mac is structured hierarchically, as it were. You won't notice that much, but as soon as you start working with multiple users, it is important to know.


Two sections
There are actually two parts on your hard drive:
a. A general section with the central System Software, Software and System Information. This is the System section and it is located on the first level of your hard drive.
b. Your own corner with your own stuff, the so-called Home folder: recognizable by the house icon and your login name. This section is located in the Users folder.


Why?
The reason for this format is the underlying structure of macOS. This is based on the UNIX system. Traditionally (since 1969) this system has been set up for multiple users. By letting users work in separate corners, you prevent clutter in the operating system itself. This benefits stability and security.


What does that look like?
If we give everything a little color for convenience, it looks like this:



Note: The Shared folder is always located in the Users folder and is intended for exchanging files among users.



What does that look like in reality?
In the Finder, under the 'Go' menu, go to 'Computer'.



Now you can clearly see the structure of MacOS. Here I have indicated the system part in blue and the user part in red:



Macintosh HD is the name of the hard drive. On it you will see these folders:
Applications: This contains all the programs and also the Utilities folder.
Library: this contains information that MacOS uses.
System: This is the heart of MacOS. So don't mess around.
Users: is the Folder in which all user folders can be found.

WARNING
Never delete or rename all these folders!



The Users folder
Here you will see two folders in the Users folder. One is called Shared, which is always there. In addition, the folder of the only user of this Mac:
macmiep.




About the Users folder
So in the "Users" folder you will find all users of the Mac. If you are sole ruler, there is only one folder with your username "me", plus a Shared folder. But you don't really notice that. It only becomes interesting when you are with several users.


Shielding
The fact that the Mac is set up in such a way that it can be used with multiple users automatically means that you must be able to shield the work of all users from each other. In this case, another user of the machine is called "tippie" and there are a number of folders that I am not allowed to look into:






Users and their privileges
Due to the whole system of multiple users, there will also have to be some order among the users. Who can change what and where? So there are two types of users:

- Administrator user
He has the right to change system settings. The padlock you will find in various system preference windows is to allow the administrator to protect these settings from unwanted changes. You will also have to enter an administrator password to open the lock during installation.







Note: If you are the sole user of the Mac, you are automatically an Administrator.

- Standard user
He may work with the machine and everything else that the Administrator allows him. This can indicate in detail per user what is and is not allowed and even when and for how long the user is allowed to use the computer.

What Users may or may not do is up to the Administrator.
Example: you are Mama in a family with two kids and a digital literate man. Of course you don't want them to mess up the network settings. You also want the kids to use the computer no longer than one hour a day and no later than 8 p.m. And you want to keep control of who they email and chat with and which websites they visit.
You can arrange all this with Screen Time.


The Guest User
You can turn this on if you want to let someone use your Mac incidentally



WARNING
Once the Guest logs out or turns off the computer, all the work the person has done is GONE! Nothing is kept. If you have someone who will work with your Mac more often and also want to keep documents, create a new user!



Create new users
Go to System Preferences and choose Users & Groups.
Click on "+" to create a new user:



At New account, choose which type of user account it should be:
Administrator = the boss of the Mac
Standard = regular user
Sharing only = special anonymous account for guests

In this case I create an account for my tomcat Tippy, so that will be a 'Standard' account. In this way he cannot destroy essential things.



Of course also choose a name, login name and password.



And there is Tippie's account already:




Your own photo when logging in
In System Preferences => Users & Groups drag and drop the photo of your choice onto the current image:





If desired, you can set the correct size:



Note: The webcam is activated under 'Camera' and you can also take a photo, or choose from your digital image collection under 'Photos'.

And ready already!







Switch users
It is possible to be logged in with several users at the same time. Switching from one user to another is very fast. What you have to do is click on your username in the top right corner, then go to the desired user:



You will then be asked for the password of this user.



Just keep working
Fill it in and the screen will turn to the desktop of the other user. This user can simply start working with the same programs. When you "switch back" nothing has changed. Programs and documents are still standing as if you "left them".
It looks like several computers are working!

Some Apps respond as if they were installed for the first time and ask for a serial number again.


Logging out
You can log out via the Apple Menu => Log out 'me' and switch to another user via the login screen.






Delete users
It is possible to delete users via System Preferences => Users and Groups.
This can only be done from an administrator account and the account to be deleted cannot not be logged in.
Select the account to be deleted and click on the "-" minus. Then choose how final you want the removal to be:



Removal is not always that easy
The administrator account - if only one - cannot be deleted that way. In such a case, first create a new administrator account, log in below and then delete the old account.


Parental controls have become 'Screen Time'
In macOS 11 Big Sur, the System Preference 'Parental Controls' has disappeared.
You will now have to log in to each account seperately and indicate there what is and what is not allowed.
It is no longer the case that you can impose restrictions on other accounts from your Administrator account.

The options to restrict an account in terms of contacts, purchases, websites, dirty words, etc. are now under the Screen Time system preference. Apple calls it "Content and Privacy Restrictions":










If you wish, you can protect Screen Time settings with a Screen Time Passcode:







The next chapter is:
installing software






Disclaimer: MacMiep is independent. This means she writes what she wants, based on 30 years of Mac-experience. She doesn't get paid for stories (positive or negative) on this website. MacMiep is not interested in your data. However, she does use Google's services. Google is indeed interested. Are you happy with MacMiep? Please support your local cat shelter.