If you share your Mac with others in the office or household, then it is recommended that you set up separate accounts for each person. The reason for this should be self-explanatory: each account has its own customized settings such as desktop wallpapers and preferences for which tools should open at launch. But what if you want to share files and folders with multiple users? For that you can create a group account instead of sharing a single user account.
The good thing about the group account is that it can preserve the convenience and custom settings of a single user account while granting access privileges to a folder or a file for selected users. A group can be assigned specific privileges for each of the shared folders.
How to Create a Group Account
Before creating a group account, you will first need to make sure that all the single user accounts that you want to give special privileges to are already active on the Mac. If not, you should first create any missing single user accounts and then move on to creating the group account.
- Launch the System Preferences app, and click on User & Groups.
- Click on the lock icon, and type in the administrator’s name and password.
- Click on the “Add” button below the list of users.
- From the New Account pop-up menu select “New Account” and then opt for “Group”.
- Name the group and click “Create Group”.
- Select the users that you want to add to the group.
Now it's time to have a look at which files group members can access and specify whether or not they can share your files and your screen.
- Launch the System Preferences app, and click “Sharing”.
- Tick the “File Sharing” checkbox.
- To specify a folder, click on the “Add” button, locate the folder, and then click “Add”.
- Select the folder in the Shared Folders list and click the “Add” button in the Users list.
- Select a user from Users & Groups, which includes all users of the Mac.
- To specify the access level of a user, select one and click the triangles next to the username, then selecting any of the following: “read & write”, “read only”, “write only”, or “no access”.
Guest users can access shared folders on a Mac. These privileges can be revoked by deselecting the “Allow guests to connect to shared folders” in the Guest Account pane of Users & Groups preferences.
The first created user account is always an administrator account in macOS. This account has access to the ‘sudo’ function, which effectively allows them to control the system. Only the administrator account has the ability to change system-wide settings, as well as grant and revoke access. Standard users can install apps but can only change their own settings, and have no access to other users’ settings. In essence, each user ‘lives’ in their own sandbox, but a user group will act as a window to allow all privileged users to see other folders outside their reach, and even edit their contents if needed.
Creating a group is especially handy on a shared Mac in an office or home environment, because this way every user can access specific folders or files, but still protect the individual account's privacy while enabling a creative process in which every member can participate.
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