Creating an Account

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Creating an Account

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12.2. Creating an Account Suppose somebody new joins your little Mac family—a new worker, student, or love interest, for example. And you want to make them feel at home on your Mac

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  1. 12.2. Creating an Account Suppose somebody new joins your little Mac family—a new worker, student, or love interest, for example. And you want to make them feel at home on your Mac. Begin by opening System Preferences (Section 4.5.1). In the System Preferences window, click Accounts. You have just arrived at the master control center for account creation and management (Figure 12-2). To create a new account, start by unlocking the Accounts panel. That is, click the at lower-left, and fill in your own account name and password. Now you can click the + button beneath the list of accounts. The little panel shown at bottom in Figure 12-2 appears. 12.2.1. Phase 1: Choose an Account Type As though this business of accounts and passwords isn't complicated enough already, Mac OS X 10.5 offers more types of accounts than ever. And you're expected to specify which type each person gets at the moment you create an account. To do that, open the New Account pop-up menu (Figure 12-2, bottom). Its five account types are described on the following pages. Figure 12-2. Top: The screen lists everyone who has an account. From here, you can create new accounts or change passwords. If you're new at this, there's probably just one account listed here: yours. This is the account that Mac OS X created when you first installed it. You, the all-wise administrator, have to click the to authenticate yourself before you can start making changes. Bottom: In the revamped Leopard account-creation process, the first step is choosing which type of account you want to create. Administrator accounts
  2. If this is your own personal Mac, just beneath your name on the Accounts pane of System Preferences, it probably says Admin. This, as you could probably guess, stands for Administrator. Because you're the person who originally installed Mac OS X, the Mac assumes that you are its administrator—the technical wizard in charge of it. You're the teacher, the parent, the resident guru. You're the one who will maintain this Mac. Only an administrator is allowed to: • Install new programs into the Applications folder. • Add fonts that everybody can use. • Make changes to certain System Preferences panes (including Network, Date & Time, Energy Saver, and Startup Disk). • Use some features of the Disk Utility program. • Create, move, or delete folders outside of your Home folder. • Decide who gets to have accounts on the Mac. • Open, change, or delete anyone else's files. • Bypass FileVault using a master password (Section 12.9.2). The administrator concept may be new to you, but it's an important pill to swallow. For one thing, you'll find certain settings all over Mac OS X that you can change only if you're an administrator—including many in the Accounts pane itself. For another thing, administrator status plays an enormous role when you want to network your Mac to other kinds of computers, as described in the next chapter. And finally, in the bigger picture, the fact that the Mac has an industrial-strength accounts system, just like traditional Unix and recent Windows operating systems, gives it a fightingchance in the corporations of America. As you create accounts for other people who'll use this Mac, you're offered the opportunity to make each one an administrator just like you. Needless to say, use discretion. Bestow these powers only upon people as responsible and technically masterful as yourself. Standard accounts Most people, on most Macs, are ordinary Standard account holders (Figure 12-2). These people have everyday access to their own Home folders and to the harmless panes of System Preferences, but most other areas of the Mac are off limits. Mac OS X won't even let them create new folders on the main hard drive, except inside their own Home folders (or in the Shared folder described starting on Section 12.6.2). A few of the System Preferences panels display a padlock icon ( ). If you're a Standard account holder, you can't make changes to these settings without the assistance
  3. of an administrator. Fortunately, you aren't required to log out so that an administrator can log in and make changes. You can just call the administrator over, click the padlock icon, and let him type in his name and password (if, indeed, he feels comfortable with you making the changes you're about to make). Managed accounts with Parental Controls A Managed account is the same thing as a Standard account—except that you've turned on Parental Controls. (These controls are described later in this chapter.) You can turn a Managed account into a Standard account just by turning off Parental Controls, and vice versa. That is, this account usually has even fewer freedoms—because you've limited the programs that this person is allowed to use, for example. Use a Managed account for children or anyone else who needs a Mac with rubber walls. Sharing Only This kind of account, new in Leopard, is extremely useful—if your Mac is on a network (Chapter 13). See, ordinarily, you can log in and access the files on your Mac in either of two ways: • In person, seated in front of it. • From across the network. This arrangement was designed with families and schools in mind: lots of people sharing a single Mac. This setup got a little silly, though, when the people on a home or office network each have their own computers. If you wanted your spouse or your sales director to be able to grab some files off of your Mac, you'd have to create full-blown accounts for them on your Mac, complete with an utterly unnecessary Home folder that they'd never use. That's why the Sharing Only account is such a great idea. It's available only from across the network. You can't get into it by sitting down at the Mac itself—it has no Home folder! Finally, of course, a Sharing Only account holder can't make any changes to the Mac's settings or programs. (And since they don't have Home folders, you also can't turn on FileVault for these accounts, as described on Section 12.9.2.) In other words, a Sharing Only account exists solely for the purpose of file sharing on the network, and people can enter their names and passwords only from other Macs.
  4. Once you've set up this kind of account, all the file-sharing and screen-sharing goodies described in Chapter 13 become available. Group A group is just a virtual container that holds the names of other account holders. You might create one for your most trusted colleagues, another for those rambunctious kids, and so on—all in the name of streamlining the file-sharing privileges feature described on Section 13.2.2. The box below covers groups in more detail. The Guest account Here's an unsung new feature of Mac OS X 10.5: The Guest account is actually useful now. Note: The Guest account isn't listed among the account types in the New Account pop-up menu (Figure 12-2). That's because there's only one Guest account; you can't actually create additional ones.But it's still an account type with specific characteristics. It's sitting right there in the list of accounts, from Day One. Mac OS X has always offered a special account called the Guest account. It was great for accommodating visitors, buddies, or anyone else who was just passing through and wanted to use your Mac for awhile. If you let such people use the Guest account, your own account remains private and un-messed-with. POWER USERS' CLINIC Creating Groups Changing permissions settings on a networked Mac, or one with a lot of account holders, is a lot easier if you sweep all your minions into sub-sets called groups. This process used to require a complicated series of Unixy steps that, if not performed carefully, could seriously foul up your Mac. But in Mac OS X Leopard, you can create a group as easily as you'd create an account. And in the same place: the Accounts pane of System Preferences. Click the tiny in the lower-left corner. When prompted, type in your administrator's name and password, and then click OK. The Mac is just making
  5. sure that somebody with a clue is at the helm. Now click the + button as though you're about to create a new account. But from the New Account pop-up menu (shown at bottom in Figure 12-2), choose Group. Type a name for the new group (Accounting, Kids, or whatever), and click Create Group. Now you see something like the list shown here: check-boxes for all of this Mac's account holders. Turn on the checkboxes for the ones you consider worthy of being a part of this group. You can create as many groups as you like. Later, when it comes time to share a folder or file, you'll save time by choosing a group name instead of setting these permissions one person at a time. But before Mac OS X 10.5, there was a problem: Any changes your friend made— downloading mail, making Web bookmarks, putting up a raunchy desktop picture— would still be there for the next guest to enjoy, unless you painstakingly restored everything back to neutral. The Guest account was like a hotel room shared by successive guests. And you were the maid. In Leopard, any changes your guest makes while using your Mac are automatically erased when she logs out. Files are deleted, email is nuked, setting changes are forgotten. It's like a hotel that gets demolished and rebuilt after each guest departs. As noted above, the Guest account is permanently listed in the Accounts panel of System Preferences. Ordinarily, though, you don't see it in the Login screen list; if you're ordinarily the only person who uses this Mac, you don't need to have it staring you in the face every day. So to use the Guest account, bring it to life by turning on "Allow guests to log into this computer." You can even turn on the parental controls described earlier in this chapter by clicking Open Parental Controls, or permit the guest to exchange files with your Mac from across the network (Chapter 13) by turning on "Allow guests to connect to shared folders." Just remember to warn your vagabond friend that once he logs out, all traces of his visit are wiped out forever. (At least from your Mac.)
  6. 12.2.2. Phase 2: Name, Password, and Status All right. So you clicked the + button. From the New Account pop-up menu, you chose the type of account you wanted to create. Now, on the same starter sheet, you fill in the most critical information about the new account holder: • Name. If it's just the family, this could be Chris or Robin. If it's a corporation or school, you probably want to use both first and last names. • Short Name. You'll quickly discover the value of having a short name—an abbreviation of your actual name—particularly if your name is, say, Alexandra Stephanopoulos. When you sign into your Mac in person, you can use either your long or short name. But when you access this Mac by dialing into it or connecting from across the network (as described in the next chapter), use the short version. As soon as you tab into this field, the Mac proposes a short name for you. You can replace the suggestion with whatever you like. Technically, it doesn't even have to be shorter than the "long" name, but spaces and most punctuation marks are forbidden. • Password, Verify. Here's where you type this new account holder's password(Figure 12-2). In fact, you're supposed to type it twice, to make sure you didn't introduce a typo the first time. (The Mac displays only dots as you type, to guard against the possibility that somebody is watching over your shoulder.) The usual computer book takes this opportunity to stress the importance of a long, complex password—a phrase that isn't in the dictionary, something made up of mixed letters and numbers. This is excellent advice if you create sensitive documents and work in a big corporation. But if you share the Mac only with a spouse or a few trusted colleagues in a small office, you may have nothing to hide. You may see the multiple-users feature more as a convenience (keeping your settings and files separate) than a protector of secrecy and security. In these situations, there's no particular urgency to the mission of thwarting the world's hackers with a convoluted password. In that case, you may want to consider setting up no password—leaving both password blanks empty. Later, whenever you're asked for your password, just leave the Password box blank. You'll be able to log in that much faster each day.
  7. • Password Hint. If you gave yourself a password, you can leave yourself a hint in this box. If your password is the middle name of the first person who ever kissed you, for example, your hint might be "middle name of the first person who ever kissed me." Later, if you forget your password, the Mac will show you this cue to jog your memory. • Turn on File Vault protection. Section 12.9.2 has more on this advanced corporate security feature. (This option isn't available for Sharing Only accounts.) When you finish setting up these essential items, click Create Account. If you left the password boxes empty, the Mac asks for reassurance that you know what you're doing; click OK. You then return to the Accounts pane, where you see the new account name in the list at the left side. Here, three final decisions await your wisdom: • .Mac User Name. Each account holder might well have her own .Mac account (especially because Apple offers a family-pack deal on these accounts). Since the .Mac service is growing in importance and features—email address, Web site, iDisk, syncing, Back to My Mac, and so on—it's convenient to associate each account with its own .Mac name. • Enable Parental Controls."Parental controls" refers to the newly enhanced Mac OS X 10.5 feature that limits what your offspring are allowed to do on this computer—and how much time a day that they're allowed to spend glued to the mouse. (You can turn on parental controls only for Standard and Guest accounts, even though the checkbox appears for Admin accounts too.) Details are on Section 12.3.1. • Allow user to administer this computer. This checkbox lets you turn ordinary, unsuspecting Standard or Managed accounts into Administrator accounts, as described above. You know—when your kid turns 18. 12.2.3. Phase 3: Choose a Picture The usual Mac OS X sign-in screen (Figure 12-1) displays each account holder's name, accompanied by a little picture. When you click the sample photo, you get a pop-up menu ofApple-supplied graphics; you can choose one to represent you. It becomes not only your icon on the sign-in screen, but also your "card" photo in Mac OS X's Address Book program and your icon in iChat.
  8. If you'd rather supply your own graphics file—a digital photo of your own head, for example—then choose Edit Picture from the pop-up menu. As shown in Figure 12-3, you have several options: • Drag a graphics file directly into the "picture well"(Figure 12-3). Use the cropping slider below the picture to frame it properly. Figure 12-3. Once you've selected a photo to represent yourself (left), you can adjust its position relative to the square "frame" (right), or adjust its size by dragging the slider. Finally, when the picture looks correctly framed, click Set. (The next time you return to the Images dialog box, you can recall the new image using the Recent Pictures pop-up menu.) • Click Choose. You're shown a list of what's on your hard drive. Find and double- click the image you want. • Take a new picture. If your Mac has a built-in camera above the screen, or if you have an external webcam or a camcorder hooked up, click the little camera button. The Mac counts down from 3 with loud beeps to help you get ready, and then takes the picture. In each case, click Set to enshrine your icon forever (or until you feel like picking a different one). 12.2.4. Phase 4: Startup Items There's one additional System Preferences setting that your account holders can set up for themselves: which programs or documents open automatically upon login. (This is one decision an administrator can't make for other people. It's available only to whoever is logged in at the moment.) To choose your own crew of self-starters, open System Preferences and click the Accounts icon. Click the Login Items tab. As shown in Figure 12-4, you can now build a list of programs, documents, disks, and other goodies that automatically launch each time you log in. You can even turn on the Hide checkbox for each one, so that the program is running in the background at login time, waiting to be called into service with a quick click. Figure 12-4. You can add any icon to the list of things you want to start up automatically. Click the + button to summon the Open dialog box where you can find the icon, select it, and then click Choose. Better yet, if you can see the icon in a
  9. folder or disk window (or on the desktop), just drag it into this list. To remove an item, click it in the list and then click the -button. Don't feel obligated to limit this list to programs and documents, by the way. Disks, folders, servers on the network, and other fun icons can also be startup items, so that their windows are open and waiting when you arrive at the Mac each morning. Tip: Here's a much quicker way to add something to the Login Items list: Control-click (or right-click) its Dock icon and choose "Open at Login" from the shortcut menu.
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