If you're a social being, sooner or later you'll find yourself allowing someone else to sit down at your machine to watch a YouTube video or check their email. Whether the visitor is five or fifty, you probably don't want them screwing around on your system. So what's the quickest way to lock down your Mac if you haven't set up guest access? Simple Finder to the rescue.
What Is Simple Finder?
Simple Finder is a hidden mode that exists on your computer that essentially disables file access altogether. Any files on your desktop will be hidden and the Finder will no longer open any windows. The dock and Launchpad will still be fully functional for app launching.
Any files on your desktop will be hidden and the Finder will no longer open any windows.
Simple Finder is a quick and dirty way to secure your computer. It's neither foolproof nor completely safe. Any user can quickly jump up to Spotlight and access a bunch of your files and applications (including any third party file browsers you may have). Also, if the user really knows what they're doing, they can crack open Terminal and disable Simple Finder.
With that in mind, it can still be quite useful if you're confident that the guest user isn't capable or interested in getting into too much trouble.
Tip: Some Terminal commands, such as this one, can have a significant impact on the way your system works. Move along if you don't think you can work your way out of any issues that arise as a result.
Step 1: Activating Simple Finder
Typically, Simple Finder is a feature that's associated with restricted user accounts. However, you can activate it on your current account with a Terminal command.
To launch Simple Finder, keep this snippet handy and paste it into Terminal when you're about to hand over your computer. The first line enables Simple Finder and the second line relaunches the Finder, which is necessary to make the changes take place.
defaults write com.apple.finder InterfaceLevel simple killall Finder
As mentioned above, this will fundamentally disable the main Finder features. You won't be able to do any real browsing.
Step 2: Deactivating Simple Finder
Once you've launched Simple Finder, there are two ways to return to the normal Finder. The first method is to go to the "Finder" menu bar item and then click on "Run Full Finder". Performing this function requires your Admin user name and password, so technically only you should be able to turn Simple Finder off.
That being said, even without a password, you can jump over to Terminal and type the following commands to enable the normal Finder.
defaults delete com.apple.finder InterfaceLevel killall Finder
Step 3: Disabling Dock Changes
If you're worried about your guest messing up your dock, you can quickly lock that down as well. The following Terminal command will make it so that the dock is still active and functional for launching, but not editable in any way (no rearranging, adding/deleting apps, etc.).
defaults write com.apple.dock contents-immutable -bool true killall Dock
To undo this and get your normal dock powers back, simply type in the same command but change "true" to "false".
defaults write com.apple.dock contents-immutable -bool false killall Dock
More on Parental Controls Soon
Simple Finder is neat, but it's an incomplete solution. If you're interested in fully setting up the Parental Controls on your Mac, you're in luck, we have a a complete guide coming soon. Be sure to check back soon to see it!