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How to enable/disable the Guest user on macOS

One of the greatest though often overlooked feature on macOS is the guest user account. The guest user on macOS is a user created by the system with limited rights but enough privileges to allow someone to temporarily use a Mac that they do not own. It’s safe because a guest user cannot install apps but will have access to the stock apps that macOS comes with. Here’s how you can enable/disable the guest user on macOS.

Guest user on macOS

Open System Preferences and go to Users & Groups.

The Users & Groups Preference will show you the users that are configured on the Mac, and highlight the current user in a column on the left. You will need to click the pad lock icon at the bottom left, and authenticate with the admin user and password to make changes.

On the left column, under Other Users, you will see the ‘Guest User’, account and its current status. If it’s disabled, select it.  Enable the ‘Allow guests to log in to this computer’, and the guest user will be enabled.

Parental controls for the guest user are automatically enabled as well and if you want, you can give the user access to shared folders.

Disabling the guest user is just as simple. All you have to do is uncheck the options that enabled it from this same preference pane.

The guest user doesn’t get to store files permanently and there are no log in credentials for it. When you see the log in screen on macOS, you only have to click the Guest account and you’ll be taken to the desktop. There’s no option to set up a password for it either. It is a temporary account and therefore there are no features that allow it to be of use for more than one session.

A guest user account isn’t useless. You do have access to the stock macOS apps which means you have a browser that you can use. A guest user can save files but only temporarily. What that means is that the files will be saved to the disk and the guest user can modify them, send them as an attachment in an email, or watch/play them during the current session. A guest user can also download DMG files however they will not be able to install them, or any other apps from the Mac App Store. Settings related to the appearance of the desktop e.g., the wallpaper and the theme can also be changed.

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