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Mac OS X - Safe Accounts

Create a Safer Account for Day-to-Day Use in Macintosh OS X


As the popularity of Macintosh computers grow, security attacks and incidents will become more common. When you first create an account on your Macintosh, it has "administrator" privileges. These are not necessary for day to day use and are often the cause of unnecessary system damage, infections, and security incidents on other platforms when simple mistakes are made.

One way of reducing the risk associated with this is to operate the Macintosh with a "standard" or "normal" account for day to day activities.

The steps below will create an adminstrator account for the few times you may need it and convert your existing account to a standard account for day to day use.

A simple solution to reduce risk from criminals, viruses, and mistakes is to change your current account type. However, your system must have an adminstrative account, so you will need to create one before changing your current account. The following pages will show you how to create and change these accounts to better protect yourself and reduce risk.

Step 1: Click System Preferences in the Dock and choose Accounts.

System Preferences
 System Preferences: Accounts

Step 2: Create a new Administrator account.

1) On the lower right-hand side of the pane, click the + sign.

Add Account

2) Type in your JMU e-ID followed by the letter ‘x’ as the name of your new administrator account (e.g. fuddepx if your e-ID is fuddep).

3) Type a strong password in the Password field and type it again in the Verify field. You may also type a password hint if desired.

Note: Use different passwords for different accounts. Please visit SAFEGUARD Our Identity and Password regarding setting up a strong password.

4) If you are using Tiger, put a check the checkbox to Allow user to administer this computer. If you are using Panther, click on Security and put a check in the checkbox Allow user to administer this computer under the Security pane.

Tiger Account
Tiger Account
Panther Account Security Pane
Panther Account Security Pane

5) Quit System Preferences.

Step 3: Change your current Administrator account to a non-administrator by doing the following:

1) Click on the icon representing your original account (usually this is identified by your e-ID).

2) Click Password.

3) If using Tiger, uncheck the checkbox Allow this user to administer this computer.

4) If using Panther, click Security and then uncheck the checkbox Allow this user to administer this computer.

5) Quit System Preferences.

6) Log out and then Log back in using your standard account (typically the same as your JMU e-ID).


Effects on System

Operating the computer using a standard account will keep mistakes and common malicious software from being able to damage or infect your computer.

At times, you may need to use an account with administrator privileges to install software or perform other system maintenance. This should be an infrequent need for most operators. When necessary, the computer will sometimes simply tell you that administrative rights are needed and prompt you for a password. If not, or if you need to do extensive work, simply logout of your day to day account and log back in as the administrator account (e.g. fuddepx).