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When I log in as "Guest", the dock looks like this:

enter image description here

Any changes made to the dock are lost upon logout, when the guest user's home directory gets deleted.

How can I change the default dock settings for guest account so that it will automatically include a custom application of my choice, such as Google Chrome?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

The easiest way would be the following:

  1. Download, install and update the free Server Admin Tools from Apple.
  2. If you´re currently logged into the Guest User Account, log out. Open /Applications/Server/Workgroup Manager and connect to Address: localhost with the username and password of your admin user
  3. Ignore the warning message about working on a local configuration, then go into the menu "View" and select "Show System Records".
  4. On the left hand side, select the Guest-User and in the window titlebar click on "Preferences"
  5. Click Dock on the right side. Select "Manage Always" at the top of the window and then add and remove the Dock items you want in your customized Dock. Uncheck the checkbox "Merge With User's Dock" at the bottom of the window. Click on "Apply Now" and log in as the Guest User to see it in effect.
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Thanks, worked a charm! (Though I'm not a fan of the fact that you need to install a 252 MB package to be able to do this.) I'm accepting this answer because of the (very helpful) extra details you provided. – Jonik Mar 3 '11 at 22:33
@Jonik you could also set up the Dock the way you want and then put the into /System/Library/User\ Template/Non_localized/Library/Preferences, but this will need a lot of sudo-ing and setting up right permissions to get it to work, and additionally will then be the standard Dock for every newly created user. – Asmus Mar 4 '11 at 7:52
Ah, interesting to know. Thanks for that too! – Jonik Mar 4 '11 at 7:57
This isn't enough info to use Chrome. Every time the guest user logs in in 10.8 a dialog comes up asking for permission to run Chrome requiring a parent's username/password. Plus I get asked if I want Chrome to be the default browsers. Any idea how to fix those 2 issues so it "just works" – gman Aug 13 '12 at 5:21

You can do this with Workgroup Manager, which is part of the Server Admin Tools. Despite the name, you can install the tools on any Mac.

Download Links: Snow Leopard | Leopard

Run Workgroup Manager when you're logged in as an admin user and select the Guest account in the list, then Preferences. Set the dock to "Manage Always." You should then be able to add/remove the items you want.

Workgroup Manager lets you customize any non-admin account, not just the guest account.

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Damn, you beat me only by a few minutes (while I was still typing)! I still posted my answer since it goes a bit more into detail, but you just received +1 from me :-) – Asmus Mar 3 '11 at 21:47

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