Snow Leopard Parental Controls

By Dan Hinckley

27 responses. »

As the internet continues to retain its Wild Wild West characteristics where individuals find ways of posting content that many feel is only appropriate for adults, Parents will continually look for ways to control what their children have access to while browsing the web.

We’ve discussed previously how the Macintosh Operating Systems have built in Parental Controls to help protect children from stumbling across content parents don’t want them to see. This is no different with Apple’s most recent OS, Snow Leopard.

Like the previous versions, Snow Leopardallows parents to create individual accounts for their children and then limit the applications they can use, files they have access to, and websites they can visit. Parental Controls can be configured from System Preferences

Manage Parental Controls from another Computer

One of the newer features in Snow Leopard Parental controls is the ability manage parental controls from other computers. After you’ve entered in your administrative password, you can check the option so that you can control access to accounts on other computers all from one Mac in your home.

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System Parental Controls

After you’ve created user accounts for your children, you can set system controls for your child’s account with Snow Leopard’s Parental Control features. In Parental Controls, select the user account and then the system tab.

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From here you can simplify the Finder interface, and limit the applications your child has access to. If you don’t want your child messing with Printer settings be sure to uncheck the Can administer Printers box.

Macintosh Web Content Parental Controls

The content tab of parental controls allows you to block profanity or inappropriate content from dictionaries and thesauruses on Snow Leopard.

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It also allows you to restrict website access. You can either setup Snow Leopard to limit adult website access automatically, or be more restrictive and setup the account to be only able to access sites you’re comfortable with. This option may be best for controlling internet access for smaller children who may click into a site you don’t want them accessing.

Protect Against People

The internet has become a great communications tool. Unfortunately it doesn’t have anyway to automatically keep people away from your children’s email or instant messages. Snow Leopard Parental Control features allow you to limit access to email, and limit iChat communications to only people you’ve approved.

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Additionally, permission requests can be sent to you to approve an email communication with someone you haven’t approved.

Time Limits with Snow Leopard

Sometimes your children will spend too much time on the computer and/or internet. Snow Leopard parental controls has built in capabilities to limit the amount of time and when your child has access to the computer.

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This includes setting time limits for school days, weekends, and at what time of night their access is turned off. You won’t have to worry about fighting for “5 more minutes” on the computer at bed time because Snow Leopard will just shut off your child’s account at that time.

Review Your Child’s Computer Activities

Snow Leopard Parental Controls also record the activities your child takes on the Macintosh. It stores these in logs that are accessible to administrators so that you can see what and when they’ve been doing on the computer. Find out who they’ve been talking to and what they’ve been saying while communicating on the internet.

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Like previous versions of Apple’s OS, Snow Leopard includes Parental Control features to help you protect your child from undesired information and content available on the internet.

Be sure to setup their accounts the way you feel best so that they can be productive, but also safe from the dangers found on the internet.

About Dan Hinckley
Dan Hinckley is an experienced Mac user who converted to Apple products when they introduced them on Intel Processors. He loves helping others get more out of their devices! Subscribe to to get the latest from Dan and the Maciverse Team!! Find out more about Dan:

27 Responses so far.

  1. K Boydell

    September 25, 2009 at 1:06 am

    since installing Snow leopard, parental controls do not work. can anyone help?

    • Desperant Person

      August 22, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      I am not sure on how and my mac has horrible parental control i try to hide profanity and many other things i NEED HELP

  2. Richard Smith

    December 26, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I have set parental cntrls to allow access to gmail. But it is still not allowing access. Why would that happen?

    • Robert Morrissey

      January 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      Persons have addressed this issue, I understand, through this course of action. I quote, "So, I did a little more exploring on the Mac and found another solution. Simply using the Mail program (I just entered in the Google gmail address and password) allows one to bypass the parental controls even when accessing the https site. I hope this helps others."

  3. Dan

    December 27, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Richard – Be sure that the address you entered in to "allow" is the actual URL utilized by gmail. often redirects to a different URL. Often it is –

    Try that and see if it works.

    • Mike

      May 2, 2012 at 8:52 am

      worked for me!

  4. Kevin

    January 11, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I am having the same problem with Google Docs. I can not get Parental Controls on the iMac to allow that site. I have even pasted the redirected URL that a non parentcontrolled account goes to for login. Something is just not working.

    I can get other sites to allow access, (facebook, hotmail, etc)

  5. dan

    January 11, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Kevin – It looks like google docs gets your user ID and authentication before it loads in your documents. Be sure that is also added to your allowed sites.

  6. kath

    February 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    i've been told that secure sites (https://) do not work as 'allowable' sites with parental control in place

    that includes i believe, as well as, and more importantly, my child's school website which they need to access frequently – so it's either parental controls or allowing access to all

    • Robert Morrissey

      January 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

      Mac OS X v10.5, 10.6: About the Parental Controls Internet content filter

      https note: For websites that use SSL encryption (the URL will usually begin with https), the Internet content filter is unable to examine the encrypted content of the page. For this reason, encrypted websites must be explicitly allowed using the Always Allow list. Encrypted websites that are not on the Always Allow list will be blocked by the automatic Internet content filter.

  7. Michael

    April 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I tried the suggestions of Dan, and still cannot get access to Google Docs and gmail when parental controls are on. I entered those URL's and parental controls still blocks access.

    • Birdie

      January 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

      i am having the same problem – i've spend almost two hours all together trying different configurations – this is very frustrating! if anyone has figured it out i'd love to know how.

  8. Tika

    June 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks for the post. And did u know anything about Actymac ScreenShots Remote? Did u read any reviews of this program? I know that it allows to get screenshotrs of Mac with iPhone or iPad.

  9. Ben

    August 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Dan

    Is there a way to limit how much can be downloaded by a user per day or week in order to make sure the family download limit isnet eaten by one user?


  10. Dan

    August 15, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Ben – Not with the default parental controls. I'm sure there is an application that could do that.

    Another option would be to restrict access to sites that are pulling in a lot of bandwidth for that user, or limit the amount of time per day they can access those internet.

  11. Ahmed Amr

    November 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    i can't find my parental control in my system preference when i try to use the help they tell me that it is disabled or not installed can someone help me plz

  12. Johnathon

    January 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    How go I Delete the internet logs of visited and blocked sites on the parental controls

  13. eray

    January 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    why is everything with this OS such a pain… "its simple just go to system preferences and select parental controls" well that would be great if the icon existed but it doesnt and the help documenation is just as lame as Windows… the apple/mac thing seems just as flawed as windows.. just a different cult

  14. Keith

    June 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I've only just created separate accounts for my young boys, and to be honest, I think the Parental Controls are a *COMPLETE and UTTER* waste of time!! I've removed the Managed Users Preferences, reset PRAM. I'm also comfortable using ssh to remotely log them off–but shouldn't have to. I had the misguided idea that perhaps Parental Controls may assist me in managing their computer usage. Sadly, I was thoroughly mistaken!

    Maybe it'll be working in Lion. Not likely though, if the past is anything to go by.

    My disappointment with the dysfunctional time limits in particular is that I'm not I can trust any of the other aspects of the Parental Controls features. That is a problem for Apple. Regaining trust is not an easy job.

  15. Marcus

    June 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I had this issue on a clients computer and found adding gmail by it's ip address to the allowed website list works fine.

  16. Sean

    June 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Having endless problems trying to get parental controls to allow https connections (specifically gmail and Facebook). I can't even get them through by allowing all connections and just keeping the logs on. Reset Safari, logged out and back in, restarted. Nothing.

    I am no newcomer to comps, and even I can't get it to work. ONly thing that works is disabling controls completely.

    Gotta do better than this Apple.

  17. michael madison

    August 10, 2011 at 10:20 am

    yes, this is far too complicated and incomplete.
    and it is not rocket science – Norton did this really well years ago!

  18. René

    February 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I found out that if I don't give permission to visit the appstore, guess what the effect is …
    Apple is becoming too commercial, will not restrict access to their cash cow. Too bad, the functionality looks promising but is working only partially. Same happens if you restrict web-access to say only BBC, guess what the start-site is for Safari: which is working just fine. Very childish, Apple.

  19. skw

    February 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    We had endless trouble with parental control til we turned it off and just checked the logs regularly. this was working great until about weeks ago. Then it logged only sporadically for a couple of weeks, then quit altogether. Please Help!! All we want is to be able to check the log…

  20. Washington

    March 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I have parental control on for my son's account. I have been following the logs for the webistes he's visited and for the blocked sites. now for the past 2 weeks both logs have been blank. (and yes he is using the computer)
    Any ideas what's gong on? can he be preventing the logs from recording the sites he visits?

    Any help appreciated.

  21. bo'

    April 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    please someone respond with advice on this!
    we are also having same problems with utilizing parental control settings,
    -disappearing logs (Mac messinup? or did the son person figure out how to do it???)
    -google docs BIG problem, he needs for school but can get into it only sporadically, he keeps getting a popup telling him he cant go there becoz of i2.ytimg. cant access thru gmail links, nor go in the back door by manually typing either!! yesterday the popups stopped after 30 min (he claims) but the STOOPID YTIMG BLOCK EVERY TIME TODAY- complete waste of 2 hours trying to access homework unsuccessfully
    -ytimg someone PLEASE tell us how to disable that popup!! i do NOT want to be forced to enable commercial spyware just so my son can do his homework!!!

  22. Connie

    August 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Dear Dan Hinckley,
    You write this beautiful article proclaiming how great the parental controls on the mac are it's just a bunch of JUNK. It's completely FALSE. The parental controls have NEVER worked consistently and you should know that it you had kids and they were actually using a mac which you were trying to limit. In theory, the parental controls work like your beautifully (but negligently false) article says. Try using it BEFORE you proclaim how great they work!! Time limit will not count down if a kid stays on the same game/program without exiting OR it may count down and log them off but they just simply have to log back in again OR if logged off then they just have to restart the computer and it resets the time all over again. REALLY. APPLE IS HUGE and they can't or won't fix the parental controls to work…..why…..they want our kids to be addicted to the computer to increase their future sales. Bye, bye MAC…Hello PC. At least PC makers don't control every time limit program out there. APPLE won't even let someone make a program that limits "time on the computer". Yes, you can find MAC programs that LIMIT INTERNET TIME but there is NOT 1 PROGRAM FOR A MAC THAT LIMITS "TIME ON A MAC COMPUTER". If you know of one, please let everyone in on it….and that's a dare.

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