With Apple’s modern operating system, the option of having multiple user accounts, enables us to easily share a computer with our family members or colleagues without having to worry whose files are whose. The ability to switch quickly between users means there is less confusion and everyone can use the computer set up the way they prefer.

Everything from desktop pictures, recently used applications and documents, and machine preferences can be customized to each user’s needs and work flow. Additionally, parents can ensure that activities such as web browsing, in application purchases, and chat applications can be restricted for the younger users of the family. Also, administrator privileges can be restricted so that we no longer have to worry about a computer novice (or mouse monkey) making changes to the system that are not correct for proper operation.

This way, everyone on a shared computer, will have their own “space” and their user environment will be customized to that user’s needs. There are no worries about mistakenly deleted files, changed preferences, or moved documents that can create disharmony in a multi – user set up.

But even a single user can benefit from having multiple user accounts on an individual machine. If you use your laptop for both business and personal use, why not create 2 accounts; one for home, the other for professional use?

This way, you can have one account with your personal information, photos, music, home network settings, and another account for your professional needs. If you use your laptop at your place of business, you can ensure you have all the correct network and security settings, your mail and VPN information, as well as any other company related info and you don’t have to worry about your personal home use files getting in the way.

You can maintain separate web browsing info, contacts, and passwords, as well as any other preferences and applications that your job requires in an organized and stream lined environment. With fast user switching, you can, on your lunch break, seamlessly switch over to your home account, listen to your music, catch up on personal email, and never have to worry about your private computing life cross-pollinating into your professional computing activities. And when it’s time to go back to work, you can fast-switch right back into professional environment and never skip a beat.

This is also important if you happen to use your computer for presentations, or shared screen set-ups at your office. You can ensure that your desktop is clutter-free of of personal pictures, active chat windows, private application notifications, and other personal and private material you’d rather not share with your co-workers or that potential client from Hong Kong. While you may adore your desktop picture of you and your friends in Cabo San Lucas, maybe your straight-laced manager does not appreciate the finer points of body shots at a tropical resort.

This multiple account strategy can also be beneficial when attempting to troubleshoot strange software problems. Many times, something as simple as a single corrupt preferences file can cause weird issues. But, with the myriad of applications, widgets, add-ons, and software running simultaneously, how can you figure out what’s the culprit? With a “clean” account, free of all the extra cruft we add over time, we can determine if the software issue is system-wide or just limited to a third party add-on. You can use a clean account to test software for evaluation and not worry about it making changes to your home folder and the data it holds.

You can also create optimized accounts for particular tasks. If you are an avid gamer or do a lot of video or audio work, maintaining a streamlined account optimized for that software can help productivity, improve system performance, and reduce the potential for software conflicts and crashes.

The modern OS is a modern marvel and boasts many user friendly features and benefits that allow us to be more productive and more secure in our daily computing tasks, Multiple user accounts, whether you are one or many, can help maintain a harmonious and trouble-free computing environment. -by Charlie

The MacSpa