In an era when security is the hot high-tech buzzword, Apple was smart to make security a focal point for the Panther upgrade. In an already virus-free operating system, it’s only icing on the cake that, for example, you can now opt to have your Home folder protected with something called AES-128 encryption. (How secure is that? It would take a password-guessing computer 149 trillion years before hitting paydirt. Or, in more human terms, slightly longer than two back-to-back Kevin Costner movies.)
The concept of user accounts is central to Panther’s security approach. Like the Unix under its skin (and also like Windows XP and Windows 2000), Mac OS X is designed from the ground up to be a multiple-user operating system. You can configure a Mac OS X machine so that everyone must log in—that is, you have to click or type your name and type in a password—when the computer turns on. And upon doing so, you discover the Macintosh universe just as you left it, including these elements:
Your documents, files, and folders.
Your preference settings in just about every program you use: Web browser bookmarks and preferred home page; desktop picture, screen saver, and language; icons on the desktop and in the Dock—and the size and position of the Dock itself; and so on.
Your email account(s), including personal information and mailboxes.
Your personally installed programs and fonts.
Your choice of programs that launch automatically at startup.
This system means that ...