Parental Controls Not Working At All

Discussion in 'OS X El Capitan (10.11)' started by daudi81, Aug 8, 2016.

  1. daudi81 macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2013
    So I have a relatively new 27" iMac (purchased around 2013-14). Haven't used it much because it's incredibly slow, which I attribute to the super slow hard drive (need to upgrade to a solid state). Unrelated to my current issue.

    Long story short, my kids are starting to use it frequently, so I decided to make them each an account and add restrictions based on each of them (time limits, what apps they can use, what web sites they can visit, etc).

    The problem is, it's completely useless. Doesn't work. At all.

    The MAIN issue is that I set the controls up, then log into each respective account to make sure it works, only to find out the settings I created aren't being saved. Nothing I do seems to work or make the settings stick. This must be a somewhat new bug, because I remember it working better in Yosemite. However, even when it did work, it was still pretty buggy. It was always blocking sites, even when I would always allow them, or allowing apps that I didn't approve, etc.

    OSX is updated as much as it can be (no updates showing through app store, so I'm assuming it's updated all the way).

    Anyone have any ideas? I initially bought this thing solely for the kids and it's sat near unused, partly because the parental controls have never worked great, and now they just don't work at all.

    Are there any alternatives to use , or should I try to figure this out? I may just wipe the whole computer and start from scratch to fix this, but it's a total Deja Vu with my old Windows machines.
  2. ScoobyMcDoo macrumors 65816

    Nov 26, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I can suggest a different approach - this is the one I used when my kids were young. I didn't worry about time limits - didn't really need to with my kids, and IMHO one can monitor that pretty easily without software.

    It was what was available online which was my biggest concern, so I used the service opendns. It allows you to choose different levels of web sites it allows and also allows blacklisting and whitelisting. You can also see a report of where they tried to go to but were unsuccessful. You cannot have different rules for different users on your computer AFAIK, but my guess is you can pick a happy medium.
  3. daudi81 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2013
    Thanks for the response, I've heard of open dns, I'll have to check it out.

    Is there anything I can do to restrict certain app usage? I'm trying to create an account for my teenager that only allows her to use the messaging app and nothing else. So I really need control on the app level.

    What are my alternatives? Is this just a bug that will be fixed in an update? I'd hate to redo the entire iMac only to find out that the problem persists.
  4. ScoobyMcDoo macrumors 65816

    Nov 26, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I tried creating a managed user, and as you reported, it doesn't work very well. Found a thread on apple web site with a bunch of folks all saying it is broken in El Cap.

    One other non-technical thing I did when my kiddos were young was put the computer in a common area of the house instead of it's own room.

    That being said - if you have a head-strong teenager, they will find a way to do what they want to do.
  5. daudi81 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2013
    Good to know I'm not the only one affected. I just did a search as well, and see the problem is pretty wide-spread. The crazy thing is that some of those threads were from back in 2015. I'm boggled that this has gone on for a year or longer without any fix by Apple. Not that it ever worked very good even in Yosemite, but at least the basics worked.

    I also just tried to create a user / parental controls on my 2014 Macbook Pro - and results were similar. I was successful in blocking some apps though, however others weren't getting blocked. On the iMac, none of it works. So strange. Come on Apple!
  6. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    It should work. Let’s troubleshoot a bit.

    When you set up the parental controls, does anything happen in /Library/Managed Preferences/Username? There should be lots of .plist files in that directory.
  7. daudi81 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2013
    Hi KALLT

    Thanks for troubleshooting with me, and Sorry for the late reply, I usually get emails when someone replies and I didn't for some reason.

    I am at the office right now so I will get you that info when I get home.

    Also, just an update: I erased everything and redid the whole computer last night out of frustration - which fixed the speed issue, the iMac is much snappier now - hopefully that lasts =)

    As far as parental controls, at first it was NOT working, doing the same thing. I tried recreating the managed accounts several times to no avail. So I went in and only restricted a couple apps, and didn't touch any of the other settings and it's working (I'm trying to make it so my teen can only use iMessage for her friends, and internet only enabled when my wife and I are home). For some reason, if I only restrict a couple apps, instead of a lot, it seems to work. If I go in and try to restrict all but iMessage, it breaks and won't save the settings. So right now I just have it restricting the app store & Safari - and it seems to be doing ok.

    When I get home tonight, I'll try to mess with the other restrictions like time restrictions and allowed / disallowed sites. However, I don't want it to break again, so I'm hesitant to touch any of it, ha!

    Hopefully Apple gets all this stuff worked out in future updates. For some reason the parental controls have never worked that great since I initially switched from Windows to OS X (around mountain lion OS). Pretty annoying since the entire reason I switched to Macs in the first place is for the kids and online safety. I've tried this on my 27" iMac, 15" macbook pro, my wife's new macbook, and my co-workers brand new macbook pro and the parental controls never work fully correctly. Bad luck I guess.
  8. tekfranz macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2017
    Any chance where it says to allow the apps it actually means check to block them?
    All I want to do is block iTunes but it is blocking every program and not remembering the "Always Allow" setting.
  9. tekfranz macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2017
    Making sure the user type is "Managed User" NOT "Standard User" and Logging Off after each setting change does seem to help.
    Also try making the setting changes from the user side as well.
    There is still an issue in Mac OS sierra with third party apps being "Allowed" but the settings not sticking.
    Also some Random Apple apps will not stick either.
  10. Cunegonde macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2017
    I'm encountering similar difficulties. Have you found alternative ways to control your kids and teens' Internet and social media access?

    I found a site called NetNanny but I'm not sure it really is useful to stop access to certain sites I may list (like YouTube) and to all other p*rn sites I do not wish to spend time listing! They do say they index these on the fly through a smart algorithm because the web's content changes all the time.

    Another issue is consecutive screen use. How about an app that stops a video game after 20 minutes? Now, that would be a lifesaver.
  11. tekfranz macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2017
    Covenant Eyes is working out very well for us.
  12. Krayzkat macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2011
    I had the exact same problem a few days ago using El Capitan.

    So I upgraded to High Sierra......

    Same problem happens.....

    Parental controls do not remember what you selected and seem to reset.

  13. tekfranz macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2017
    It got better for me once I realized I needed to set it to be Managed User instead of a Standard user
    Also the I just use the Website blocking feature and am not trying to block the Apps because the Blocked App List caused the most problems. Parental Controls would forget that I allowed or Blocked an App and keep popping the Permission dialog. An Apple rep clued me into the fact that blocking or allowing Apple Apps may work better than third party Apps.
  14. Zippy99 macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2017
    My initial excitement over the depth and thought behind parental controls has turned into absolute frustration. It seems between the save bugs and the limits of the features its nearly useless. Not only do the settings not stick, but its impossible to add app access to things like Word, Minecraft or DropBox without getting a barrage of prompts for new dependency web sites that need access. They have to be added manually and also don't 'stick'. I'm using High Sierra, and from my reading it appears some of these issues were first reported on El Capitan. Given Apple's resources its hard to imagine why this area is so poorly maintained.
  15. Krayzkat macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2011
    The company has its hands in too many pots at the moment. Their standard of quality has fallen
  16. DaveyVigs macrumors regular


    Sep 28, 2016
    hate to bring up an old thread... so mine works but works incorrectly - (MacBook Pro running MacOS High Sierra 10.13.5)
    if I login on my account it start the timer for them instead of when they login to their account. it is really frustrating to be honest.

    one would think the one hour timer should begin as soon as that user logs in not when any user logs in. what if I want a 3 hour timer for my 13 year old but a 1 hour timer for my 7 year old? I set it up in the settings but it does not start their timer when they login, it starts when I the Admin logs in.

    has anyone got this to work? I have tried tp delete their account and restart while keeping their Minecraft saves and it didn't work. I eventually gave up and removed the Day time limit constraints but left the "bedtime" options on but would like to actually use the feature the way it should be intended - and the way it works on Windows PCs.

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