View Full Version : Setting and using a dedicated admin account on the mac

12-19-2016, 08:44 AM

I heard that it was both handy and safer to configure and use an admin account on the mac, separate from one's main account.

I further heard that it was adviseable, for malware-prevention purpose, *not to give admin privileges to one's main account and to use the admin account for heavy-duty stuff like installing software, for upgrades, for maintenance or for other unknown tasks.

I have an admin account configured on both my MacBook Pro and our shared iMac with my wife but I do not use them much so far, other than looking to a defective piece of software from another angle. In each computer, my main account has admin privileges and I wonder wether removing those privileges (iMac: mine and my wife's) could be useful and effective. Testing would be done first on my MacBook, where my wife is not affected. However, during my latest OS update, I updated the admin accounts of both computers and wondered what I needed the admin account to be plugged to for comfort (mine and my wife's) if and when I removed admin privileges from our respective main accounts on the iMac:

My AppleID ?
My iCloud account ? (mail only ? other iCloud stuff ?)
Keychain ?
Dropbox resources ?
iPassword ?

Also, the macs run 24/24. Should admin be permanently logged in in the background or should it be logged off ?

If anyone having removed admin privileges from his or her main account would explain the value to me and to my wife of such move and suggest replies to the above questions, I would be grateful. TIA

12-19-2016, 04:23 PM
OK, I'll start the discussion. I run as an Admin all the time. i do that because when I want to install or configure something, I want to install or configure something, not have to figure out what account I'm using to get there. As for malware, most of it is not going to ask for installation permission, or will come piggybacked on something you DO want to install (Softonic, I'm looking at you...), so being a non-admin won't make a bit of difference there.

Now, there IS a risk of running as Admin and that is that I get stupid and install/configure something I should not. But I've been doing this computer thing since the late '60s, so I have been around long enough to have made most of the mistakes and learned from them. (I just doomed myself, but hey, at my age any excitement is ok by me.) For a newbie, particularly a newbie to macOS, running as a standard user may be a wise thing for a while until they have a few miles on the old buggy. But newbies will still make mistakes and jump to Admin to install MacKeeper, or an antivirus, or some other crapware, so even that small protection of being a standard user is pretty thin. But maybe, just maybe, having to log in as an Admin might make one or two of them actually think before they pull that trigger. (Yeah, I've been there, done that, so don't say I'm picking on newbies. Everybody was a newbie at some time!)

So, in your situation, if you trust your wife not to do something, shall we say, less than wise, then you might make her account Standard. Or yours, if you are the one more likely to mistype. But if you are both reasonable people and think before pressing Return, then I don't think you need to have a separate account for admin or change your account to standard.

I do have a clean Admin account on my system, but that for when I get all borked up and have to exit my account for there to sort it out. Last time was about a year ago, maybe a bit more. But I know that the day I delete that clean admin account I'll bork things up royally, so it's "insurance" for me to have it there. I just don't run it much.

That's one man's position. Let's hear from the rest of the guys.

EDIT: IF I had kids using my machine, they would all be standard accounts. No admin for them until I KNOW what they are doing and capable of doing. And maybe not even then.

12-19-2016, 05:27 PM
Being on my own and no kids (51 and 48) about and no grandkids at all I also use the Admin all the time. I am particularly fussy what gets installed, and never download anything from CNET, Softonic or MacUpdate, each of whom include nasty little surprises in their download packages. I have found one adware threat (Geneio) and Malwarebytes for Mac (formerly AdwareMedic) cleaned that up for me.

I do not visit questionable sites which is another plus for keeping your computer squeaky clean, run Onyx over it once a month and backup using SuperDuper every Friday. Run my iMac 24/7 via an Eaton UPS and of course no antivirus software and firewall off, the Apple default.

12-19-2016, 05:40 PM
Just as Harry and Jake, I run my MacBook Pro as an admin, however I am also admin on wife's McBook Air - whenever she needs to approve an update etc, it's my job.
I think this setup is perfect ;)

12-19-2016, 05:42 PM
I heard that it was both handy and safer to configure and use an admin account on the mac, separate from one's main account.

If you were running Windows, I would agree that keeping a separate account with limited privileges for everyday use aside from an Admin account would be a good idea. However, you're using Macs not Windows machines. Jake and Harry gave you good advice which I also echo. Press on and don't unnecessarily burden yourself or the wife. ;D

12-20-2016, 05:33 AM
Thanks, Jake, Harry, David and Chscag. I was worried about ransomware, which recently hit a Windows user (and friend) in my bicycle club.

I will follow your unanimous advice except, reluctantly, David's. My wife has been using the iMac and its predecessor for over 10 years now with seldom used admin privilege, not me, except for maintenance purpose from my account. Also, the iMac is cloned daily. The need for a complete wipe and reinstall of the iMac would not ruin our day. She will therefore also keep her admin honor status.

Thank you all.