Our Complete Guide to Mac’s Screen Time (For catalina)

The Benefits of Mac Parental Controls

Apple now offers its latest parental controls on MacBooks and on MacDesktops. Known as Screen Time, parents can make sure their children’s computers are set up with certain boundaries — the main benefits include:

  • Setting a Down Time to make sure the computer goes to bed
  • Setting web-browsing restrictions to limit adult content
  • Blocking specific websites or categories of websites
  • Time limits apply on both iOS devices and Mac computers (e.g. YouTube)
  • The ability to monitor web-browsing activity from the convenience of your parent phone

The Requirements

1) When setting up a Mac, you should make a parent the Administrator, even if your child is the sole user of the computer. Parental controls work best with this configuration, and it’s very important to record your User Name and Password. 

To confirm that a parent is the Administrator:

    • Go to the Apple icon (top left) and select System Preferences
    • Select User & Groups

*If you’ve already set your child up as the Administrator, you can still activate Screen Time, but you will want to make sure you don’t forget the Screen Time pass code. If ever lost, you could have great difficulty regaining access to the computer.

2) You will also need an Apple ID for your child.

3) If you want to view your child’s usage activity from your phone, you will need to make sure that Family Sharing is set up properly.

4) If you have two-factor authentication turned on and your child is using their Apple ID on another device, you may need their device passcode.

Creating Your Child’s User Profile

The next step is to create a separate user account for your child so that you can activate Screen Time:

1. Set up a new User Profile,

  • Begin by choosing the Apple Icon (top left of screen) > System Preferences, then click Users & Groups

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  • Next click the    lock icon to add your child. Enter your administrator name and password. Then select Unlock
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  • Click the Add  button to create a new user profile for your child

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  • When the pop-up menu appears, fill in the name and password information (a Standard account is fine)
  • Click Create User
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  • If you want to change the profile photo, just click Edit
  • The final step is to click on the lock to re-lock it

Note: If you have multiple children using this computer, then repeat the above steps beginning with clicking the lock.  

2. Next, go to the User Name (top right of screen) and log in as your child. You will now go through a series of steps to log your child in under their individual Apple ID. If you have two-factor authentication turned on, there is a verification process. Advance through the screens, and select Set up Later for Hey Siri, Touch ID and Apple Pay.

Note: If your child has a mobile device and you’ve already set up Screen Time, then any settings you’ve selected will carry through.

Setting Up Screen Time

1. To activate Screen Time, click the Apple icon and go to System Preferences

2. Select Screen Time and you will see the main dashboard where you can monitor activity
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3. Next select a Downtime which you can customize by the day of the week

4. Set time limits on specific websites by tapping App Limits, and hit the + sign. Next spotlight search by the name or explore under each category (you may need to navigate to a specific website before it will show up). Check the box and set a time limit.

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5. Select which apps you want to designate as Always Allowed (they will be active 24/7)

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6. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions and here you have two choices: Select either Allow Specific Websites Only or Limit Adult Content

  • Allow Specific Websites Only allows you to keep your child contained. Apple has handpicked some selections which you can add and subtract from. 
  • Limit Adult Content allows you to filter out most mature content. You can also Block Specific Websites, so for example, you would add YouTube.com if you didn’t want your child to have access. 


Note: Even if you block Safari on iOS devices, it will remain active on the MacBook. Many parents find it easier to monitor homework and which websites their children are browsing when computers are out in the open.

What Parents Should Know

When you have Family Sharing set up, you can always monitor your child’s MacBook activity from your phone, and when Share Across Devices is selected, you can see activity specific to each device. This may help parents to see if their child is really doing homework, but do know that if your child doesn’t close a website, it will appear as if they were on the site for however long it was open. Also, When Limit Adult Content is activated, occasionally, perfectly benign sites are blocked. If your child needs access, you will need to access Web Content Restrictions and add the website to Always Allow. 

HIFAF Recommendations

1.To Minimize distractions, turn off Notifications and turn off texting

  • Go to System Preferences and select Notifications
  • Review which apps you want to send notifications and toggle off the rest.


To turn off Messages, open the app

  • Select Messages from the top navigation menu and then select Preferences
  • Tap on the iMessages tab and uncheck Enable this Account*

*While there is nothing that prevents your child from re-activating this, you can see activity by device on the Screen Time Dashboard.

2. Check to make sure that Find My is activated. This ensures that you can locate the MacBook whenever it’s online. Log into the app from your phone and tap on the Devices tab.  If you don’t see the MacBook, make sure Location Services is turned on.

    • Go to the Apple icon, System Preferences
    • Select the Security & Privacy icon
    • Click the lock icon to unlock it
    • Check the box to Enable Location Services and Find My
    • Click the lock icon to re-lock
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3. ChangPrivacy Settings

  • Make sure Location Services is turned to make sure you can track the computer through Find My iPhone
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4. Review options in Other

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Parents who want to grant and block access from the convenience of their phone, as well as the ability to manage time limits and schedules may want to consider a solution such as Circle by Disney.  

If your Mackbook has older version than check Our Macbook Parental Control 

You can copy a user’s parental controls settings and apply them to another user.

  1. Choose Apple icon > System Preferences, then click Parental Controls. Mac parental controls
  2. Click the lock icon    to begin adding your child. Enter your administrator name and password
  3. Select the child whose settings you want to copy.
  4. Click the Action Pop-Up Menu , then choose Copy Settings for Child 2
  5. Select the child to whom you want to paste these copied settings.
  6. Click the Action Pop-Up Menu , then choose Paste Settings for Child.p

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