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I am responsible for keeping the software on our Mac at home up to date, and some software is updated rather frequently. This includes Firefox.

FF is one of the applications our kids are allowed to use, but after each upgrade they are unable to use it before I approve/allow it again. I usually do the upgrades at night, and when I leave for work early in the morning this means the kids can't use FF before I get home to approve it the next evening.

Is there any way I can approve applications without logging in to each parental controlled account, starting the application and approve it with my own username/password?

I.e. I want to do it in one step (from my admin account) instead of in several (by logging into each restricted account). I also don't have the passwords for my kids accounts (I can get it if I want to by asking them), since I'm trying to teach them to keep their passwords safe and secret.

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1 Answer 1

There is no need to log in to individual accounts, at least with more modern versions of OS X. You can set access privileges for managed accounts from within the Users & Groups pane of System Preferences without leaving your own account.

image of Users & Groups preferences pane

image of Parental Controls

By selecting the Other tab in the Parental Controls dialog you can even enable Remotely managing parental controls.

image of Parental Controls remote management checkbox


Upon further clarification by Cra, it seems that Apple's file quarantine system is causing the difficulty. Starting with Mac OS X 10.5, files downloaded from the internet are quarantined and checked for safety.

image of file quarantine dialog

Applications that are downloaded must be approved the first time that they are run, and only the owner of the account used to initially download the software can grant that approval.

image of Application quarantine dialog box

If you have multiple user accounts on your Mac, the user account that downloaded the file is the only user account that can remove the quarantine attribute to the file. All other user accounts can open the quarantine file, but they will be presented with the quarantine dialog box asking "Are you sure you want to open it?" every time they open the file.

ᔥ Apple Knowledgebase:About file quarantine in Mac OS X v10.5 and v10.6

Make sure that you download software updates using your administrator account and that you open and approve the software from your account before making any adjustments (which may not be necessary at this point) to the Parental Control settings. It may be necessary to disable automatic updates in Firefox.

image of Firefox preferences pane, Advanced tab

The quarantine system works by attaching an extended attribute to a downloaded file. If absolutely necessary, you can remove this attribute using the terminal

Enter the following command, replacing appropriately:

xattr -d com.apple.quarantine /applicationPath/<applicationName>.app

See also: Stack Overflow: How do I remove the “extended attributes” on a file in mac

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Seems I'll have to take a closer look at the parental settings next time I upgrade FireFox (or any other apps the kids are allowed to use). :-) I think I did check last time, but I didn't find a way to enable FF for them without loggin in with their credentials, as the problem isn't allowing the application in the first place, but the fact that every time I upgrade FF the kids aren't able to start it before I grant access using my credentials. (They get a dialog box requiring admin acces to allow FF to be started) I'll definately look into the remote thing, though! :-D –  cra Mar 21 '12 at 7:20
    
That dialog box is a result of the quarantine procedure. It's necessary to approve applications downloaded from the internet, but opening the application once from your Admin account should be sufficient. Not sure why it wouldn't work with Firefox—just another reason why I don't run it ;). Best of luck –  jaberg Mar 21 '12 at 12:35
    
Ah, here's something I didn't know before: be certain you download the file using your account, not one of the kids', and open/approve it. If you have multiple user accounts on your Mac, the user account that downloaded the file is the only user account that can remove the quarantine attribute to the file. All other user accounts can open the quarantine file, but they will be presented with the quarantine dialog box asking "Are you sure you want to open it?" every time they open the file. ᔥ Apple KB:About file quarantine in Mac OS X v10.5 and v10.6 –  jaberg Mar 21 '12 at 12:38
    
As chance would have it, FF was updated again recently, so one of my kids came to me yesterday and asked me to "allow internet" again. –  cra Mar 23 '12 at 9:58
    
And? Was the information provided here helpful? –  jaberg Mar 23 '12 at 10:20

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