Best Practice - Mac OS X User Account Management

Ben Greiner -

The idea of creating accounts for each user sounds simple enough, however in practice it can be time consuming and expensive (especially in offices with high turnover). To avoid duplication of work and provide the best user experience we have developed the following method for handling User Accounts.

Create a generic Short Name that identifies the computer.

For example, a small office of three might use the Short Names: clientname-01, clientname-02 and clientname-03. (If more than one user is required to use the same Mac, then clientname-01a, clientname-01b and clientname-01c can be used.)

Another option is to use the date ... clientname-063011 (June 30, 2011).

This allows the Short Name to remain constant while the User Name and Computer Name get updated for new users. Computer Names can describe the user and computer (i.e. Bruce Wayne | Mac Pro) and allow for client preferences (i.e. Batman | Bruce Wayne | Mac Pro).

Using a generic Short Name saves time because applications like Suitcase and Font Agent Pro don’t have to be reconfigured.

The same account information can be used for servers, VPN, email, etc. (remember to change passwords as users change).


  1. It is strongly recommended that passwords change when users leave their job.

  2. Generic short names for email may only be practical for freelancers. If a generic short name is used for email then alias the user’s real name to the generic email short name.

  3. Clients who contact us early with new user setups and terminations can save money!

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    Ben Greiner

    Also remember to work on a day-to-day basis as a Standard user (NOT an Admin) ... 

    Change Management 1.1 - Standard vs Admin Accounts

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