3 simultaneous users on 1 mac, possible?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by zinneken, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. zinneken macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2007
    Right now our 3 kids share 1 computer, and, they're always fighting for who can do their homework first so they can go play. We can't afford 3 macs, but would like to have the three of them do their home/computer work at the same time so we can also have dinner at the same time, and be a family doing stuff together.

    Except OSX, it's all GPL software they're using. So I figure, buying 2 additional copies of OSX, 2 additional monitors over some thunderbolt adaptor, keyboards and mice for the same one computer would allow our family to spend time together on an affordable budget.

    Is there any virtualisation software that would allow for a USB port to be isolated to a specific virtual user, and is there a way to isolate 3 monitors (over thunderbold adapter for example), one for each of our kids?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I don't think so, OSX is not a multiuser environment. Its designed for a single user at a time.
  3. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Perhaps you are forgetting network screen sharing? OSX is Unix underneath and always runs in multi user mode unless you specifically boot into single user mode. I agree you can't plug multiple keyboards into one Mac, but if you have some old windows boxes, chromebooks or ipads lying around, you have a way for more than one user to work simultaneously on one Mac.

    Perhaps this is possible, but not by connecting multiple keyboards and monitors to one Mac. You could, however connect multiple users to one Mac if the second and third users are coming from another computer, such as another Mac (but then why bother) or a Windows box or even a Chromebook or iPad. You can run VNC in a (Chrome) web browser from a windows or Linux box and when you log in to the Mac, tell it to start a separate session for you instead of sharing the screen of the current user.

    Perhaps you would do better to get a used second Mac so that 2 of the kids could work at any one time. This is better than having 3 of them wait for one machine. You would need to spend some time setting things up so they can see their files from either machine. There are existing tools in OSX to make this easy (rsync).

    Whether you add another Mac or pick up iPads, old Windows boxes or Chromebooks to allow them to share using VNC, create a separate user account for each kid and enable fast user switching in system preferences. This should allow them to share the machine(s) better. Multiple accounts does add one wrinkle in that they can't easily see each other's files. Tell them to put shared stuff in /Users/Shared where everybody can see it.
  4. blhoward2 macrumors 6502

    Sep 19, 2012
    What you're asking for is called a "dumb terminal" but OSX doesn't support it. You'd have to be on another actual computer and then remote in to OSX. You could do this any number of ways including VNC, old OSX systems, or, I'm assuming, running linux and opening a remote X11 connection.

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