If you have children or inexperienced computer users who would like to use your Mac, setting up a user account with Simple Finder enabled in OS X allows you to control what features and applications they can access while also preventing the possibility of, for instance, the unintended deletion of files. Simple Finder is a great way for novice computer users to learn about the major functions of Mac OS X in a safe and controlled environment.

Once set up, Simple Finder only features three folders in the dock. There is a Documents folder for the new user to save their files; a Shared folder where you can place files from your main OS X user account that you allow them access to; and an Applications folder containing the software that you specify they can use. In this tutorial, we’ll take you through the necessary steps to set up Simple Finder.

1.) Open System Preferences from the Dock. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will assume that you already have a user account for the novice user in question. Click on Parental Controls. You will be presented with this screen:

Parental Controls in System Preferences in OS X.png

2.) Click on the Lock icon, and enter your User Name and Administrator Password:

Entering Admin Password in Parental Controls on OS X.png

3.) Select the relevant user account and click on Enable Parental Controls. You will be taken to this screen:

The System Tab in Parental Controls in OS X.png

4.) In the System Tab, tick the Use Simple Finder option:

Ticking Use Simple Finder in OS X Parental Controls.png

5.) If you wish to regulate what applications the novice user can access in Simple Finder, tick the Only allow selected applications box, and then check or uncheck the desired list of applications. In this example, we have allowed the “Child” user access to the iLife suite and Safari, but not Mail or iChat:

Selecting Allowed Applications in Parental Controls in OS X.png

6.) You can also enable or disable the ability to use printers, burn optical media and change the user password from this pane:

Selecting System Options for Simple Finder in OS X.png

7.) Click the Lock if you wish to prevent changes occurring without your password, and then close System Preferences. Log Out of your Administrator account and Log In as the novice user to ensure that Simple Finder is set up correctly. You should be presented with a Desktop and Dock like this one (note: the Grab application in the Dock is only running to allow this screenshot to be taken):

Simple Finder in OS X.png

8.) If at any time you need to return to the full Finder while logged in as the novice user, click Finder in the Finder Bar and then select Run Full Finder. You will be asked for your Administrator account name and password. You can return the novice account to Simple Finder mode by again clicking on Finder, and this time selecting Return To Simple Finder.

Simple Finder allows Mac owners to introduce novice computer users to OS X in a simplified and controlled environment, where you can specify exactly what applications and system functions they can access, and gives you piece of mind about their computing experience (and what they’re doing to your Mac).