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Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Leopard Edition by David Pogue

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Chapter 13. Accounts, Parental Controls, & Security

In an era when security is the hottest high-tech buzzword, Apple was smart to make security a focal point for Leopard. Mac OS X was already virus-free and better protected from Internet attacks than Windows. But Mac OS X 10.5 is the most impenetrable Mac system yet, filled with new defenses against the dark arts.

On the premise that the biggest security threat of all comes from other people in your home or office, though, the most important security feature in Mac OS X is the accounts system.

Introducing Accounts

The concept of user accounts is central to Mac OS X's security approach. Like the Unix under its skin (and also like Windows XP and Vista), 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 (Figure 13-1).

Upon doing so, you discover the Macintosh universe just as you left it, including your documents, files, and folders; your preference settings (Web browser bookmarks, desktop picture, screen saver, icons on the desktop and in the Dock, and so on); email account(s), including personal information and mailboxes; your personally installed programs and fonts; your choice of programs that launch automatically at startup; and so on.

This system means that several different people can use it throughout the day, without disrupting each other's ...

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