MacMost Now 359: Walking Away From Your Mac

Learn how to walk away from your Mac without worrying about others easily getting access to your data or messing up your settings. By setting your Mac to log you out, or require a password when you have left it, you can walk away from a Mac in a semi-public area like your work space or home office.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now.
In today's episode, I wanna show you how to safely walk away from your Mac.
So, say your Mac is in a semi-public place; maybe it's in your cubicle, or open office at work or maybe it's in your den at home.
You want to make sure you can walk away from your Mac without putting your data at jeopardy.
Well, there's an easy way to prevent people from using your Mac after you've left it, or to allow people to use your Mac, but not mess with your stuff.
So, first thing you want to do, is go to your system preferences accounts, and you want to turn off automatic login.
You do that by going to accounts, you'll see the list to the left, and click on LOGIN OPTIONS here, at the bottom left.
Then, you want to go to automatic login and make sure one of your accounts is selected, but instead you have off selected.
That means that when you boot your computer up, it will automatically go to the login screen, requiring a person to choose an ID and enter a password; they're not automatically put into your account.
Now, all you have to do to protect your Mac when you walk away, is to logout.
And that requires you to login in or somebody else to login if they want to use your Mac.
But, there's a better way to do it.
So, go back to your system preferences, and go to SECURITY pane, there, under general security preferences, click on require password immediately after
sleep or screen saver begins. This means, somebody sitting down at your Mac will have to enter the password once the Mac has gone to sleep, or the screen saver
started.
So now, even if you walk away from your Mac, as soon as it goes to sleep, or the screen saver starts, it's like you're logged out.
But, we can do even better than that.
Now, next you want to go into system preferences again; Desktop and Screen saver this time, and choose screen saver.
Now here is where you set the time it takes for the screen saver to start.
So, you want to set that to something pretty low so your screen saver starts quickly.
And thus, your machine requires a password pretty soon after you get up and walk away from it. And just for that you can click the hot corners button, here.
And you can set a corner of your screen, say the bottom left, to start screen saver.
So, when you walk away if you just remember to just shove your mouse down to the lower left it'll automatically start the screen saver right away, so that your machine is protected from the moment you get up.
Alternatively, you notice that you could require a password when waking up from screen saver or from sleep.
So, instead of messing with the screen saver, you can go right into put the computer to sleep and set it to an amount of time that's pretty short; like 15 minutes or something like that, even less.
And that way, your machine goes to sleep; soon after you walk away, instead of just running the screen saver and it still requires login to wake up .
Another way to do this is back in the security pane, there is a check box for, "Log out after a certain number of minutes of inactivity".
So, this won't just require a password to wake up or come out of screen saver, this will actually log the entire account out.
Now if your computer is in a semi-public place, but you want other people to be able to use it; just not mess with your stuff, then the key is to create
accounts for them.
So, there are two ways to do this:
One is to create a new account for a person, say, one of your kids, or somebody else in your household, set it as a standard account, not an Administrator
so they can't cross over into your stuff or they can't install or uninstall applications, things like that.
Give them: an account name, password, the works. And set them up with their own account and show them how to log on.
The other way to do that is to set up your guest account
Now, I have a guest account here set to sharing only, but you could set it to allow guests to log on to this computer; that means you can choose guest as a login, you don't need a password for that.
And the neat thing about guest accounts are that they can use the applications that are there, but as soon as they log out, all their data is gone.
So it's good for letting people try out your Mac, but it's not really good if they need to save anything at all.
So, in that case you probably want to set up either a general family standard account, or individual accounts for each person in your family
Setting up passwords for every account on your computer, especially the administrator accounts, is very important because any sharing services, like screen sharing
or file sharing, will also use these passwords. So it not only protects people from sitting down and using your Mac there in person, but also accessing from
across the network.
So please take advantage of this functionality, I do get email from time to time, from people that complain that their kids have messed something up on
their computer or that a co-worker had accidentally deleted a file; this type of thing prevents that by giving them a separate account or restricting their access completely
And for more serious computer protection, I'll refer you all the way back to Episode 48; that's got useful stuff for if you're traveling with a Macbook and you
want to make sure it's secure if it falls into wrong hands.
Hope you found this useful, until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: One Response to “MacMost Now 359: Walking Away From Your Mac”

    Ken
    2/17/10 @ 2:41 pm

    Gary, I would like to add, to lock your Mac quickly, you can hit Control+Shift+Eject, and put it to sleep, Command+Option+Eject.

    Again, as always great video. ^^

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