My mother in law is techphobic. She also lives 8000 miles and several time zones away. So I want to help set up her computer as solidly as possible without needed much long distance sketch support.

I'm updating her Mac to macOS Sierra. I cleaned off mackeeper. I have her use Google Chrome for anything Flash related (yeah I know, but she watches videos and the ones she likes need Flash). I was thinking of restricting apps to App Store apps, but wonder if I'll need to support that long term.

She's based in Taipei. No current Apple stores. She hates asking for help. I'm pretty much the only one she'll ask. She has backups (not sure how current). And horrible password discipline (currently her account doesn't have one - I had to add one just so I could do sudo in a Terminal)

Any other tips? Thanks.

  • 2
    Interesting topic, but there probably isn't one best answer. Would you mind if we turn this into a community wiki?
    – nohillside
    Dec 11, 2016 at 9:04
  • @patrix go ahead Dec 11, 2016 at 14:07
  • Disable her admin rights. That, plus the backups is a pretty rigid solution. Dec 11, 2016 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


Some things I would look into in such a scenario:


Absolutely essential, and something you can set up easily. At least attach an external drive and configure TimeMachine. If you want to add more protection against handling errors or such, use a service like Backblaze or Arq to get an off-site backup.

Remote Access

Sooner or later you will do support over phone and it is much faster and easier to do if you can see what is happening on the screen. I usually use Teamviewer which is easy to setup and use. Just make sure that everything is working as it should before you leave house.

Restricting things on the computer itself

With remote access in place you can get rather restrictive with what the user can do. You probably don't want to give them administrator rights (so make sure you set up a non-admin account for them) which eliminates most handling risks. I would also restrict application installation to the App Store.

  1. Get them AppleCare so they can get professional support from people that know how to support and configure and maintain macOS.
  2. Help them understand their backup choice.
  3. Help them verify the backup is working 2 and 5 weeks after you guide them in setting it up.
  4. Educate them about gatekeeper and how to avoid falling for scare tactics.

Locking down things is a losing battle. User education and support is the winning move here.

  • thanks. She's based in Taipei, which ironically (considering Foxconn) doesn't have an Apple Store yet. We do backups. And education - sadly she's one of those that hates asking for help. Education is sadly hard to do. Thanks! Dec 11, 2016 at 16:49
  • I get it @RichHomolka Apple is making huge strides to provide online support. Whether that is economical or practical sometimes is a hard call. The good news is out f the box, the Mac is set for gatekeeper and turning on automatic updates helps too.
    – bmike
    Dec 11, 2016 at 18:14

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