Tip: Enabling a guest account on Windows & Mac OS X

Go to jail Thief!

We’re going to show you how to enable guest accounts on Windows and Mac OS X so that you can protect your devices from identity theft, or from it just getting stolen.

If your laptop is ever stolen, there’s a very high chance the guy will turn it on and try to use it, either to see if there’s anything of interest to him, or maybe just to surf the good ‘ol internets for a while — which is when Prey is meant to kick in.

But what happens if your computer is password protected and he’s unable to?

Even though Prey works even if no user is logged in, it’s hard to imagine someone staring at the login box for more than a minute, after trying the usual “123456” and “password” combinations.

In other words, chances of recovery are drastically reduced when there’s no way for these guys to use your computer, at least for a while.

That’s why creating a dummy guest account is so important for Prey to work its magic. Guest accounts have been woefully overlooked as merely an account for guests, but as you see, having one is a pretty good idea, just as protecting your documents with an account password.

Plus, if someone logs into a guest account in your lappy, he or she won’t be able to mess with your stuff or remove applications, because guest accounts are unprivileged and restricted to a tiny sandbox.

Here’s how to achieve it.

Enabling guest access in Windows 7 and 8

(Yes, we intentionally didn’t mention Vista). 🙂


Windows Control Panel

One. Go to Control Panel. In Windows 8, this will be located inside settings on the right-hand sliding menu. For all other versions of Windows, Control Panel is most likely located on the right side of the menu after clicking the Start button. If you are confused, just press the Windows Key + R, then write control panel and hit enter.


Windows

Two. Go to User Accounts and Family Safety. This is where you can manage all the accounts on the computer, add or change passwords or accounts. Don’t you just feel safe with all those shields Microsoft put in there?


Add or Remove User Accounts

Three. Go to add or remove user accounts. It is located right underneath User Accounts. It does what it says it will do: add or remove user accounts. There you will be able to find your account and your guest account.


Guest Account

Four. Double-click on Guest Account and, then, hit turn on. When you double click on Guest Account it will take you to another page where you will be asked if you are sure. That’s it!

How to enable guest access in OSX

System Preferences

One. Go to System Preferences. You can access it by clicking on the Apple menu in the upper-left corner of your screen.


Mac Users and Groups

Two. Go to Users and Groups. At the bottom of the window, underneath System, you will find Users and Groups, which will let you manage all of the laptop’s users, parental control, log in options and more. In order to access Users and Groups‘ preferences, you have to log in with your password.


Guest User Account

Three. Click on Guest User Account. When doing this, you will be able to enable or disable the guest account. You can also get different options on parental control and sharing options.


Allow guests to log in to this computer

Four. Check the box that says Allow guests to log in to this computer. A cool feature of the guest account option is that any session data is removed once the user logs out.


Automatic log in

Five. Hit Login Options, under the Guest User icon, and disable Automatic log in. This is very important! By doing this, you are telling OSX to let you choose the account you want to use when the computer boots. If you leave the setting on, it will automatically log in to your main account, which defeats the purpose of protecting your documents and providing alternate access.


That’s about it! You can now try signing out of your current session and you should see the option to sign in as a guest user. Open it and try to gain access to your personal documents using Explorer or Finder — if you’re able to, let us know and we’ll buy you a frapucchino.

Happy hunting!

Photo: Merelize(cc)

Fabián Núñez

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Head of Sales and Customer Happiness at @preyproject. I love tech and Asian food. Headbanging since 2002. Overall badass.