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Leopard Guest User Account

TMO Quick Tip - Leopard Guest User Account

by , 7:30 AM EST, November 7th, 2007

Letting a friend or family member use your login account to "check email real quick," or do just about anything else, can lead to heart ache and pain when they accidentally delete the Real Big Projectª you were working on, or all of your email accounts. Mac OS X 10.5 helps avoid those unexpected tragedies with its Guest account.

Leopard's Guest account is a separate user account that you can let trusted people, like friends or family, use instead of giving them access to your user account -- which also gives them access to all of your files. Every time someone logs in with you guest account they get a clean Desktop and see everything as if the user was just created. When they log out, any files they created or settings they changed are wiped out, keeping the account clean and fresh for the next guest user that logs in.

Here's how to set up the Guest Account:

  • Choose Apple Menu > System Preferences to launch System Preferences.
  • Select Accounts.

  • Select the Guest Account to activate it and change settings.
  • Click Guest Account. It's in the Accounts column on the left.
  • Check Allow guests to log into this computer.

Parental controls work with the Guest account, so you can limit which applications the account can use, limit Internet access, and impose time restrictions, too. If you don't want guest users accessing shared folders, be sure to uncheck Allow guests to connect to shared folders.


Allowing guest access lets others use your Mac from a temporary account.

Your friends and family can access the Guest account from the login window just like any regular user account. If your login window shows the list of users, just select the Guest user. If the window shows the name and password fields, enter guest in the Name field. The Guest account doesn't include a password, so don't worry about entering one.

The Guest user account offers an easy and convenient way to let people use your Mac without putting your personal information and important files at risk. It does, however, include a certain element of risk since you are giving someone physical access to your computer, so be sure that you already know and trust everyone you let in front of the keyboard.


Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

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