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Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Panther Edition by David Pogue

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Fast User Switching

The account system described so far in this chapter has its charms. It keeps everyone’s stuff separate, it keeps your files safe, and it lets you have the desktop picture of your choice.

As fans of Mac OS X 10.0, 10.1, and 10.2 may have discovered, though, it was capable of going from handy to hassle in one split second. That’s when you’re logged in, and somebody else wants to duck in just for a second—to check email or a calendar, for example. You had no choice but to log out completely, closing all of your documents and quitting all of your programs. When the interloper was finished, you had to log back in and fire up all your stuff again, hoping against hope that your inspirational muse hadn’t fled in the meantime.

Fortunately, that’s all over now. A new Panther feature called Fast User Switching —modeled on a similar Windows XP feature, which itself is modeled on a Unix feature—lets Person B log in and use the Mac for a little while. All of your stuff, Person A, simply slides into the background, still open the way you had it (see Figure 11-12).

When Person B is finished working, you can bring your whole work environment back to the screen without having to reopen anything. All your windows and programs are still open, just as you left them.

To turn on this feature, open the Accounts panel of System Preferences. Click Login Options, and turn on “Enable fast user switching.” (You can see this dialog box in Figure 11-12.)

The only change you’ll notice immediately ...

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