Why you need to create a new user account on your Mac today!

Create multiple user accounts on the Apple Mac for extra security and for backup purposes in case there is a problem.

How many user accounts do you have on your Apple Mac? Just one? This is risky and there are potential pitfalls to beware of when there is just one user. Here’s how many you should have.

What is wrong with one user account?

The problem with one account is when something goes wrong. It is rare, but what has happened to some people is that a problem with their account, such as file corruption on the disk, a faulty app, bad settings, and so on, has prevented them from logging in.

It might not even be a fault. Perhaps when you experiment with Terminal commands or poke around system files in Finder out of curiosity, you change something or delete an essential file. It causes problems with your account and then you can’t log in.

If you cannot log in, how can you fix the problem?

Add a backup admin account

If another person uses the Mac and they have an administrator account, such as a partner, they can log in and try to fix the problem with your account.

If no-one else has an account on your Mac, you should create a new admin user for yourself as a backup. You might never need it and it is just insurance, but if a fault arises in your normal account, you can log in as the other admin to fix it.

A second account with administrator rights can be very useful for problem solving because when there is a fault, it can be useful to know whether it affects the whole Mac or just you. Logging in with a different account will tell you. If that account is OK, it means that the problem lies in your personal settings, so it narrows down the problem and gives you a head start on solving it.

Work and personal accounts

Another use for a second user account on your Mac is to separate work and personal files, services and logins. If your Mac is used for both work and personal activities, how do you separate the emails, photos, documents and so on?

It can be a confusing mess and it is far better to have two user accounts on Mac. One can be used when working and the other for your personal use, with family, friends, music, photos, and so on.

Create a second Apple ID for the personal or work account to keep everything separate.

It can be a bit awkward if you want something in your personal account when you are in your work account, or vice versa, but you can switch accounts on the user menu in the top right corner.

Standard accounts are safer

There are several different types of user account and these include administrator and standard.

Administrator: Has the power to change user settings and system-wide settings. Can install apps. Can do anything on the Mac.

Standard user: Has the power to change personal settings and can install apps, but cannot change system settings or other users’ settings. Cannot create accounts.

Malware is thankfully rare on the Mac, but some people do get adware and bad apps. If it gets into an administrator account it can do a lot more damage than when in a standard user account. A standard user just doesn’t have the power to make system changes, so the threat from malware, adware, spyware and so on is less.

Some people create a standard user account on their Mac because of this. They use the standard account for everyday work and personal tasks and only log in to the admin account when they need to do admin tasks, which isn’t that often.

Create a standard account for everyday use.

How to create an account

1 System Preferences

Open the Apple menu and select System Preferences to create an account.

Open System Preferences from the Apple menu on the Apple Mac

2 Users & Groups

Look for the Users & Groups icon and click it. This is where we create user accounts.

Open Users and Accounts in System Preferences in macOS on the Apple Mac

3 Unlock it

Some features in this part of System Preferences are locked and only administrators can create or delete accounts for example. Click the padlock icon in the bottom left corner and enter your admin account password.

Some features in System Preferences on the Apple Mac must be unlocked by clicking the padlock icon

4 Add an account

The plus and minus buttons at the bottom of the users list is for adding or removing user accounts. Click the plus button to continue.

Use the plus button to create a new account in System Preferences in macOS on the Apple Mac

5 Set the account type

Select the account type at the top. You need at least a second admin account as a backup, but you might also want a standard account for another user or for yourself as an everyday account that is safer than being logged in as an admin.

Select the type of account when creating a new user in System Preferences on the Apple Mac

6 Fill in the form

Enter a name in the Full Name box and then enter an account name below. The account name is used as the name for the home folder. If you are creating a second backup account for yourself, give it a different name to your admin account.

Enter a password, twice, and then enter a password hint, which is something to remind you what the password is in case you forget it.

Add a password, name and set the type when creating a new account on the Apple Mac

Click the Create User button at the bottom to create the account. You must log in to it at least once in order to finish setting it up.

 

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