Every fresh install of macOS brings up a new “Guest User” account on the login screen. The guest user account is only meant for temporary users, ultimately preventing the person using your machine from doing any damage to your software. It also protects your privacy, as there is no need to share your account password, which means the guest won't have access to any of your files and folders. Guest users also remove the hassle of adding new accounts for individual users, which would require space on your limited storage.
Guest User Account Permissions
Since they are temporary accounts, guest users don't require a password to log in and can't change any user or computer settings, and nor can guest users log in remotely when this feature has been activated in Sharing preferences. Computer administrators can set further restrictions tweaking the parental control options in System Preferences > User & Groups.
Apparently, the guest user account is part of setting up iCloud in macOS, specifically the “Find My Mac” feature. This helps you locate your Mac if lost, because the person who finds it can still log in as a guest and use Safari to access the internet; hence the Mac can send this location data to you, the rightful owner, so you can track it down.
What Happens to the Files Created by the Guest User?
Since the guest account is just temporary, files created by this user will only exist while the user is active. Files downloaded from the internet or created by a guest are stored in a temporary folder. However, once the guest user logs out, the temporary folder and its contents are deleted.
How to Disable the Guest User Account
While we don't recommend doing this because you never know when you will need to share your Mac with someone or when the account might be helpful in locating a stolen machine, it is possible to disable the guest user account.
Prevent the Guest User From Appearing on the Login Screen (OS X El Capitan or Later)
- Launch System Preferences.
- Click on “Users & Groups”.
- Click on the lock located in the lower-left corner to enter the administrator password.
- Select the “Guest User”.
- Uncheck the “Allow guests to log in to this computer”.
Disable the Guest User Account on OS X Lion, Mountain Lion or Earlier
- Launch System Preferences.
- Click on “Security & Privacy”.
- Click on the lock to enter the admin password.
- Check the “Disable restarting to Safari when screen is locked” box.
By doing so, the guest user account will no longer appear on the login screen after a reboot.
Dealing with guest users is much simpler than with individual users, because this account is much more storage-friendly than the latter. While creating individual users is super-easy – and highly recommended if you share the Mac with someone in the office or family – the account will occupy precious space on your Mac.
Individual users will have their own home folder containing their files and settings, which can be deleted if that user no longer needs to log into your Mac. Removing the user is seamless, but it is recommended that you then run a Mac optimization app such as CleanMyMac afterwards to delete any unnecessary remains of the account that you don't want to keep on your machine. With the guest user account enabled this hassle can be completely forgotten, although it is recommended that you run a Mac optimization app from time to time to clean up the cache and junk data that apps leave behind.
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