Parental Controls on Mac

Keep your kids safe while they surf, work, and play on the Mac with parental controls.

You don't have to hover over your children's shoulders, watching their every move, in order to keep them safe. Apple has a number of parental control features for the Mac to help protect them as they browse the internet, use apps, and play games. You can even set time limits for your little ones' computer activities so they don't overuse their allotted screen time. Here's how to set up and manage Parental controls on your Mac.

If you are looking for how to use parental controls on iOS, check out our ultimate guide to parental controls on iPhone and iPad.

How to create a new user account with parental controls on the Mac

If you currently only have one user account (your administrator account), you'll need to create a new account that you can add parental controls to. This secondary app can be your children's separate log in.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Select Create a new account with parental controls.
  5. Click on Continue.

    Select Parental controls, click create new account, then click continue

  6. Enter your administrative username and password.
  7. Click unlock.

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  8. When the new user account window appears, select an age group.
  9. Enter the name of the child that will be using the new account.

    Enter age and name of new account user

  10. Enter a username for the account.
  11. Create a password for the account.
  12. Verify the password.

    Enter username and password, and retype password to verify

  13. Add a password hint in case you forget it (remember, you won't use this password as often as your child, since it is not going to be your main account).
  14. Click on Create User to create a new account.

    Enter a hint for the new password and click create new account

Repeat this process for each child you would like to create a separate account for. When you create a new log in account, you will be asked to follow the steps to signing into iCloud. If your child does not have his or her own iCloud account, you can skip this process.

How to enable remote access to parental controls on a different Mac

Once you've created separate accounts with parental controls for your children, you can restrict and change access and privileges from another computer as long as you know the administrator name and password of the account of the computer they are using and both computers must be on the same network.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Unlocking an account that has parental controls on Mac

  5. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  6. Click Unlock

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  7. Tick the box for Manage parental controls from another computer.
  8. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window to prevent further changes.

    Click on manage from another computer, then click lock

To access this account's parental controls from another Mac:

  1. On the remote Mac, click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click on Manage parental controls on another Mac.
  5. Click Continue.

    Click on parental controls, then click on manage on another Mac, then click continue

You will be able to manage app use, limit website access, restrict usage, set up privacy preferences, and all other parental controls you normally access from the same Mac.

How to manage app usage with parental controls on the Mac

Once your children's accounts are created, you can manage what apps they can use, including whether they can use the camera, play multiplayer games with Game Center, access the Mail app, and more.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Unlocking an account that has parental controls on Mac

  5. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  6. Click Unlock.

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  7. Select an account that has parental controls enabled.
  8. Click on the Apps tab at the top of the Parental Controls window.

    Select account, then click on apps tab

  9. Untick the box for Allow use of camera if you don't want your child using any camera on this Mac.
  10. Tick the box for Allow joining Game Center multiplayer games if you want your child to be able to play games online with friends and strangers.

    Select camera and Game Center options

  11. Tick the box for Limit Mail to allowed accounts to allow your child to use the Mail app.

    • Click Manage to add email contacts to the approved sender list.
    • Tick the box for Send request to: and enter your email address to receive a notification whenever your child tries to email a person that is not on the approved sender list.

      Select Mail, then click on Manage Mail, and then enter your email address to receive notifications when your child emails

  12. Tick the box for Limit Applications on the Mac to manually select which apps and games your child can access.

  13. Select the apps you want your child to have access to. Apps not on the approved list will need your administrator name and password.
  14. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window before closing it to prevent further changes.

    Select application limits, then select apps that are approved to use

How to restrict website access with parental controls on the Mac

The internet can be a dangerous place for an unsupervised child, but it isn't practical to stand over your little one's shoulder while he or she surfs the web. The most important thing to do is teach your children how to use the internet safely, but you can also help protect them by restricting access to only certain websites.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Unlocking an account that has parental controls on Mac

  5. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  6. Click Unlock.

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  7. Select an account that has parental controls enabled.
  8. Click on the Web tab at the top of the Parental Controls window.

    Select an account, then click on the Web tab

  9. Click Allow unrestricted access to websites if you want your child to have access to all websites.
  10. Click Try to limit access to adult websites.

    Check the box to allow unrestricted access to the web or limited access to the web

    • Click Customize to specify websites that your child can access and ones that they cannot.
    • Enter web addresses that your child can always access and ones your child can never access. This method is difficult and time-consuming, but if you know what to look for, it can give your kids more freedom to explore the internet.

      Manually enter website you do and don't want your child to access

  11. Click Allow access to only these websites to limit your children's use of the internet to only specific websites.

    • Click the add (+) button to add a specific website.
    • Click the remove (-) button to remove a specific website.

      Managing the web with parental controls on Mac

  12. Click Logs... to see what websites your child has visited and what apps your child has accessed.

    • You can view activity from today, through an entire year, or all data saved.
  13. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window before closing it to prevent further changes.

    Managing the Web with parental controls on Mac

How to disable and restrict access to iTunes content with parental controls on the Mac

You may not want your little one downloading apps, games, music, and ebooks without your knowledge. You can disable downloads and restrict access to content with parental controls on the Mac.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Unlocking an account that has parental controls on Mac

  5. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  6. Click Unlock

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  7. Select an account that has parental controls enabled.
  8. Click on the Stores tab at the top of the Parental Controls window.

    Select an account and then select stores

  9. Tick the box for iTunes Store to disable iTunes on your child's account.

    • You can customize whether you want you child to be able to have access to iTunes U and the iBook Store.
  10. Tick the box for Music with explicit content to hide all music rated as explicit.

    Click iTunes to disable

  11. Tick the box for Movies to: to restrict what type of movies your child can watch in iTunes.

    • You can select G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17.

      Click music to restrict explicit lyrics

  12. Tick the box for TV shows to: to restrict what type of television shows your child can watch in iTunes.

    • You can select TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, or TV-MA.

      Select Movies to select age rating

  13. Tick the box for Apps to: to restrict the rating of apps and games in the App Store.

    • You can select 4+, 9+, 12+, or 17+.

      Select tv shows to select age rating

  14. Tick the box for Books with explicit sexual content to hide ebooks and iTunes U books that are rated as explicit.

  15. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window before closing it to prevent further changes.

Select books to hide explicit content

How to set time limits for computer use with parental controls on the Mac

Just like playing video games or watching TV, we have to enforce limits on how much time our kids spend on the computer. You can set up time limits for your children's account for weekdays, weekends, and bedtime with parental controls.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Unlocking an account that has parental controls on Mac

  5. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  6. Click Unlock.

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  7. Select an account that has parental controls enabled.
  8. Click on the Time tab at the top of the Parental Controls window.

    Select an account and then select the time tab

  9. Tick the box for Limit weekday use to: to set up how many hours per day during the week your child can access his or her account.

    • You can select between 30 minutes and eight hours.

      Click to limit weekday use

  10. Tick the box for Limit weekend use to: to set up how many hours on each weekend day your child can access his or her account.

    • You can select between 30 minutes and eight hours.

      Click to limit weekend use

  11. Tick the box for School nights to prevent access to a parental controlled account on weeknights.

    • You can set the block for any time of day and any length of time.

      Click to set a bedtime on weeknights

  12. Tick the box for Weekends to prevent access to a parental controlled account on the weekend.

    • You can set the block for any time of day and any length of time.

      Click to set a bedtime on weekends

  13. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window before closing it to prevent further changes.

How to manage your child's privacy with parental controls on the Mac

Apps and games will sometimes ask for access to certain data, like location, photos, contacts, and more. Though access to this data is very helpful for grown-ups with productivity needs, it is not necessary, and better left hidden for some age groups.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Unlocking an account that has parental controls on Mac

  5. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  6. Click Unlock.

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  7. Select an account that has parental controls enabled.
  8. Click on the Privacy tab at the top of the Parental Controls window.

    Select an account and then select the Privacy tab

  9. Click on Manage Privacy to manually select apps and games that will be able to access data from your child.
  10. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Click Manage Privacy and then click the lock to unlock the Privacy window

  11. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  12. Click Unlock.

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  13. Select Location Services.
  14. Select or deselect the apps you want to determine the location of your child's computer.

    • You can also disable Location Services entirely, but it will disable Find My Mac.

      Click Locations services and select apps that you do or don't want to access data

  15. Go down the list of app types, (Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, etc.) and select or deselect specific apps that can access your child's data.

    Click on other categories and select apps you do or don't want to allow access to data

  16. Click Advanced and select Log out after [X] minutes of inactivity to secure your computer if your child leaves it for a certain amount of time.

    • Select Require an administrator password to prevent anyone from being able to change locked system preferences on your child's account without an administrator's password.

      Click on Advanced and set a time for the computer to lock when not in use

  17. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window before closing it to prevent further changes.

  18. Click the back arrow in the upper left corner of the Parental Controls window to go back to parental controls.

    Click on the lock and click the back button to go back to the Parental Controls Privacy window

  19. Uncheck the boxes for Location Services, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Twitter, Facebook, and Diagnostics to lock the data to their current settings and prevent new apps from accessing it.
  20. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window before closing it to prevent further changes.

Uncheck services to lock their current settings

How to disable Siri and lock down certain utilities with parental controls on the Mac

Siri can make a lot of things easier to find on the Mac, but exposing your child to possible privacy and security risks may not be worth it. You can disable Siri and lock down certain computer utilities, like printer settings and Dock modifications, with parental controls.

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the far left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Parental Controls.
  4. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window.

    Unlocking an account that has parental controls on Mac

  5. Enter the administrator username and password for your Mac.
  6. Click Unlock.

    Enter username and password, then click unlock

  7. Select an account that has parental controls enabled.
  8. Click on the Other tab at the top of the Parental Controls window.

    Select an account and then click Other

  9. Tick the box for Turn off Siri & Dictation to disable Siri and Dictation, and blocking your child from accessing the features in Preferences.
  10. Tick the box for Disable editing of printers and scanners to block your child's access to printer and scanner settings.

    Check to disable Siri and printer settings

  11. Tick the box for Block CD and DVD burning in the Finder to disable disc burning options via Finder.
  12. Tick the box for Restrict explicit language in Dictionary to hide certain words when your child uses the Look Up feature.

    Check to disable CD burner and adult content in the dictionary

  13. Tick the box for Prevent the Dock from being modified to keep all apps in the Dock and stop new apps from being added to it.
  14. Tick the box for Use Simple Finder to change the available desktop features to be more friendly to young and inexperienced computer users.

    Check to lock terminal and create a simplified desktop

  15. Click the lock in the bottom left of the Parental Controls window before closing it to prevent further changes.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about setting up and customizing parental controls or enabling remote access to parental controls on a different computer? Let us know in the comments and we'll help you out.