Giving MacBook to mother-in-law - how to keep it VERY simple

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by LewisNYC, May 6, 2009.

  1. LewisNYC macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2009
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    Hoping you can offer some advice about the best way to give our MacBook White to my mother-in-law, who is absolutely brand-new to computers in general.

    What I'd like to do is make it exceptionally simple for her to plug in the machine, turn it on, and be presented with 3 or 4 big options:

    - Email
    - iChat
    - Open a web browser

    A million years ago, I remember that we had something called At Ease installed in the Macs in school, that effectively limited us to a few pre-defined choices, and hid the standard Finder.

    Is something such as the above do-able? I'm willing to purchase reasonably-priced software to accomplish this, if needed.

    Thank you very much in advance,
    Lewis
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    Make the Dock icons really big and only put Mail, iChat, and Firefox in it. Make the Desktop a photograph of her daughter.
     
  3. CrzyCanuck72 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    #3
    Further, create a new user account and enable parental controls on it. Check "use simple Finder". Restrict the applications she can use to Mail, iChat, and Safari.
     
  4. chadamorrill macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #4
    There are ways to use parental controls to make the finder "simple" and prevent access/running of certain apps. You could always go that route.

    You could make the dock fairly large, but you can also make desktop icons large too. As I'm sure you know, they scale really well, so they don't look all crappy when you make them bigger.
     
  5. LewisNYC thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2009
    #5
    That is a really good idea. Thank you.

    Would it be possible to have another icon literally open Mail and address an email to us, so all she would have to do is type the body and press send?

    This is her first computer, and it might actually be the first computer she's ever used at all.

    Thanks again,
    Lewis
     
  6. chadamorrill macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #6
    Yeah, definitely beaten to the punch on the parental controls :)

    Just thought of another, my in-laws asked me to do the same for their younger children, and I found that restricting the internet to certain sites worked well, but also had limitations. I ended up making a quick link page for their most recently used (and allowed) websites.

    I'm sure you wont be restricting the web for your mother-in-law, BUT if you know a little html, or are comfortable with iWeb, you could make a "Start" html homepage for Safari/Firefox that has quicklinks to CNN news, Stock info, NYTimes, etc. Stuff she'd be interested in. It would be a little less intimidating to have 4 links to choose from than a Google search bar.
     
  7. chadamorrill macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #7
    Sounds like something Automator might be able to do... I don't have much experience with that though.
     
  8. kastenbrust macrumors 68030

    kastenbrust

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2008
    Location:
    North Korea
    #8
    Make sure you give her a decent external mouse, because ive noticed thats the major issue people who have never used a computer have.
     
  9. CrzyCanuck72 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    #9
    Create a new workflow in Automator, where the only action is "new mail message". Put in the address you want the message to be sent to, save it as an application on the desktop. Maybe give it a nice icon. When she double-clicks the icon, it will open a new mail message already addressed to whatever address you put in.
     
  10. Diseal3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    #10
    and make sure she dosen't have your cell phone/e-mail address or else expect a lot of future phone calls.
     
  11. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #11
    You could do this or put your emails in address book files. In a new mail message, click the "addresses" button and then double click the group you put your email addresses/contacts.

    The automator way is more "all-in-one" though. You can also have that in the dock, I think.
     
  12. LewisNYC thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2009
    #12
    Thanks for everyone's quick feedback - these are all really helpful. I never would have thought of the mouse thing or the automator script, or the basic HTML home page. Maybe I will be really fancy and create a domain for it. :)

    Thanks again,
    Lewis
     
  13. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #13
    Why bother hosting it on a domain; hosting it locally is free, makes it easy to edit, and still functions like a normal webpage with hyperlinks.
     
  14. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    #14
    To make an email link, you just have to type "mailto:lewisnyc@gmail.com" (replace your username with whatever your email happens to be) into the Safari address bar, then drag the globe icon immediately to the left of the text onto the desktop. Rename link to taste.
     

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