Q. I have heard that making a guest account on the computer and using it yourself can help stop viruses. Why is this, and how would I go about making an extra account?
A. Administrator accounts on a Windows, Mac or Linux computer have the ability to adjust settings, install new programs, change passwords and perform other functions that affect the entire system. Accounts designated as “standard,” “limited” or “guest” have much less control over the entire system and can make only minor changes that are specific to that account, like changing the desktop wallpaper. Malicious software that invades a computer through the user logged in as the administrator can usually burrow in deeper to do more damage.
To set up a limited account for yourself (or a child) on a Windows 10 Home or Professional system, go to the Start menu and select the gear-shaped Settings icon. On the Settings screen, choose Accounts, then “Family & other people” to “Add someone else to this PC.” Follow the instructions on the screen to create the account. As with most account creation, you may need to enter the administrator password at some point.
On a Windows 7 system, go to the Start menu and select Control Panel and then “User Accounts and Family Safety.” Click User Accounts and then “Manage another account.” Click “Create a new account” and follow the steps on the screen.
Mac administrators can set up the less powerful Standard accounts, Managed accounts with Parental Controls, or Sharing-only accounts for screen- and file-sharing. To get started, go to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences. In the System Preferences box, click Users & Groups. In the Users & Groups box, click the padlock icon, enter the Mac’s administrator password and click the plus (+) icon to get started.
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Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to[email protected]. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.