Sharing a computer? Every modern operating system has the concept of users. Each user can have different permissions and settings. Now is the time to set up a different account for each user in your household!

Why

If you set up an account for each person in your household sharing a computer, you don’t have to worry about little Johnny installing yet another game, or little Suzy “accidentally” sending out pictures of a cat to all of your fellow workers. Each account on the computer has separate settings, including the browser. You may have been using profiles in Google Chrome. That’s a good start, but there are no protections to stop little Johnny from using your Google Chrome profile. If you set them up an account, they don’t even see your Chrome profile.

Multiple accounts can also sign into their own cloud storage, so little Johnny can use Google Drive File Stream or OneDrive and not conflict with your cloud storage.

Setting it up

Each operating system is a little different, but the concept is basically the same. You add a user, set the permissions for the user, and set a password. If you don’t have a password set for your account, now is the time to set it. 

User permissions are where you can set it so little Johnny can’t install applications. Unfortunately, if they game, they may need to have administrator access. In that case, what I would do is create a gaming log in, and don’t let anyone know the password. If Johnny wants to play games, I can log him in.

Chromebooks

Chromebooks are the easiest, there is no accounts to set up. Sign out of one account and another account can sign in. Except for the Downloads folder, nothing is stored on the Chromebook. 

Windows

macOS

Linux

If you’re running Linux, I’m going to assume you know how to add users.

Sharing a computer

When you are done with the computer, log out. With the Mac its under the Apple Menu, and by default on Windows it is under the logo in the bottom left corner. Once you log out, someone else can log in, and all of your settings will not conflict or be seen by them.

If you have multiple computers, I would recommend on a cloud storage service for each user. That way, they have access to their files stored in the cloud from any computer they use.