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Managing User Preferences

One of the powerful features of Mac OS X Server is its client management technology that enables administrators to tailor almost every aspect of the Mac OS X experience. Client or preferences management, as it is also known, can be used to configure Mac OS X elements for users and to limit what they are allowed to access or change while logged into a computer. Some of the Mac OS X client management features are built into Mac OS X as the parental controls function of the Account pane in System Preferences.

Using Workgroup Manager in local directory mode, you can have full access to Mac OS X’s preference management environment for local users or local groups. Though this isn’t likely to be of interest to home users, it can be a powerful tool for small businesses or classrooms, in which local user accounts must be used, but where a defined user experience is also desired and/or user access to certain applications, System Preferences panes, or other features needs to be limited.

Managed Preferences under the Workgroup Manager local directory mode function exactly as they do under Mac OS X Server. Click the Preferences button in the Workgroup Manager toolbar and then select the user or group that you want to manage from the list in the left-hand pane. Click on one of the 13 preferences that can be managed and select how it will be managed. For most preferences, you can elect to set initial settings for users that they can change (by selecting the Manage: Once radio button) or force preferences that cannot be changed (using the Manage: Always button). Preferences that affect access to features (such as whether a user has access to all applications on a computer or only some of them) can be set only to always being enforced or to never being used. Details for managing preferences using Workgroup Manager can be found in Apple’s Mac OS X Server User Management Guide as well as most Mac OS X Server books.

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