Protecting Tiger with Your Home Directory

One of the great things about Mac OS X is that each user on your computer can have their own personal work environment, complete with their own files, Desktop, iTunes music library, and any number of settings that makes your Mac experience special, just for you. That same feature, called multiple users, can also help protect your overall system and the other users on your Mac from potential stability and security problems.

Hereis the deal: Thereis a Library folder sitting at the root level of your hard drive. This is where Dashboard widgets, Screen Savers, some startup items and several other things get installed by default. Any item that gets installed into this Library folder affects every user on your Mac. Since your Home Directory also has a Library folder, you can install many of these files in there, and protect the other users on your Mac from potentially damaging applications.

Letis use widgets as an example. They are easy to find and install, and someone, somewhere could write one that acts like malware, and either makes your Mac unstable, or does something nasty - like delete files from your Desktop. Installing widgets in your Library folder protects the overall system from the potentially evil code.

The problem is that some of the directories your Library folder needs arenit there until you create them. Hereis how to set them up:

    - Open your Library folder. Itis in Users > your home directory > Library.
    - Create a new folder. Choose File > New Folder from the menu bar, or use the Command-Shift-N keyboard shortcut.
    - Give your folder the correct name. The folders you are most likely to want to create are Widgets, Screen Savers, PreferencePanes, and InputManagers. Spelling counts.

Even after you create the folders, your Mac will still install the associated files in the main Library folder instead of your Home Directory. Instead of manually installing widgets and screen savers by hand, take a look at Wednesdayis Quick Tip. It shows you how to build Automator workflows that handle the dirty work for you. Just remember to select your new Widgets folder in Users > your home directory > Library > Widgets as your destination instead of Library > Widgets.

For some people, their Mac is just a tool to help get their job done. For others, itis an extension of who they are. Either way, a little planning ahead of time goes a long way towards keeping your Mac performing at its best.