Locking down OS X (Tiger) / ‘child proofing’

I’ve been asked a few times to get my sister-in-law a computer so she can email. She reiceved a ‘MailStation‘ as a gift. I never had the heart to tell her it was junk.

Since I’ve arrived at Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) for the iMac G3 I salvaged for free from Craigslist, I need to lock down the UI.  Sure, in Tiger, there are plenty of ‘Parental Controls’ but selecting the most restrictive setting of: ‘This user can only use these applications’, adds several Folders to the Dock such as Documents, Applications. Given this particular user, I felt it would confuse more then it would help.

So, I decided I’d select ‘Simple Finder’, but restrict the UI and the Dock. I did consider removing the Dock, and found buried online a good reference on removing the Dock from OS X.

So, here are the steps I took.

  1. Create a new user in System Preferences, leaving it as a ‘standard user’ (for the time being)
  2. Log in as that user and trim down the Dock (click and drag Dock icons into the trashcan). I only left  FireFox (see my post on child proofing FireFox) and an AppleScript to Shutdown the Mac.
  3. Disable the OS X Dashboard [In Terminal run: defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES] (activates at next login, test by pressing F12 key)
  4. Locking the OS X Dock [In Terminal run: defaults write com.apple.dock contents-immutable -bool true] [Then also run in terminal: osascript -e 'tell application "Dock" to quit'] (this applies the change by killing the Dock)
  5. Last step is to change the user type to 'Simple Finder' [In Terminal run:defaults write com.apple.finder InterfaceLevel simple
  6. Now, log off and back in. Time to lock down FireFox.

Note: This method does not prevent other applications from running. An example would be iTunes. If an audio CD is inserted, iTunes runs. I felt 'helper applications' running would be pleasant, but at the same time, I'm not advertising that they exist or can be run.

Clearly, this leaves the system open and exposed at several levels. If you follow my approach, I recommend that you put in an audio disc, run and configure iTunes with defaults, and adjust the Parental Controls in the Preferences section.

A major benefit of selecting the 'Simple Finder' lockdown approach is that a menu option exists in Finder (Finder -> Run Full Finder), which when authenticated as a System Administrator, will let you run Terminal or any other application in this profile to further tweak the OS or perform some other administative tasks without logging out.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 methodicjon » Locking down FireFox / ‘child proofing’ on 09.02.08 at 10:30 pm

[...] previously covered restricting OS X Tiger, but now I need to add some ‘child proofing’ to FireFox, the main application of my [...]

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