How to protect your devices with guest mode

toddler using smartphoneCreative Commons License jenny downing via Compfight

January 28th is National Data Privacy Day, a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the importance of taking steps to protect the privacy of your personal and financial data. In the week leading up to Data Privacy Day we’ll be focusing on the best methods to protect your personal data from harm.

No matter what precautions you personally take with your computing devices, you can still be vulnerable if you allow others to use them. A family member or friend can often be your weakest security link, so it’s important to use caution when lending a device to another. Most operating systems provide some type of guest mode or restricted profile that prevents users from installing or removing apps, so it’s important to make sure this extra layer of protection is enabled. Each operating system handles guest profiles a little differently, so use this post as guide to help you get started.

Windows 7/8

1. Click the Start button, type guest and click Turn guest account on or off

2. Click the Guest account icon

3. Click Turn On to enable the guest account

After the Guest account is enabled, you simply need to log off or switch users to enter the Guest mode.

Windows Phone

Microsoft has yet to implement a guest mode on Windows Phone, but they do have a feature called Kids Corner, where your child can play with the games, apps, music, and videos you add there, and can’t get to the rest of your stuff.

Chrome OS

Google’s Chrome OS has guest mode built in and it’s relatively easy to enable.

1. Sign in to the Chromebook with the account that has been designated as the owner

2. Click the status area in the lower-right corner, where your account picture appears

3. Select Settings and find the “Users” section

4. Click Manage other users

5. Use the “Enable guest browsing” checkbox to control the feature


Several device manufacturers have added some type of guest mode to their custom software, but Android still does not have an official guest mode. Google added the ability to have multiple accounts with the introduction of Android 4.2, so you could create a secondary account for others to use, but this is currently only available on tablets.

1. Open up the Settings application

2. Scroll down the Settings menu and click on Users

3. Click on Add user or profile

4. Click add User to create a second user account


5. Click Restricted profile to create an account that lets you toggle which apps the user has access to

Keep in mind that each user has their own space which they can customize with their own apps, wallpapers, and so on. Users can also adjust universal tablet settings like Wi-Fi, which affect everyone.

Mac OS X

1. Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Accounts

2. Click the small lock icon in the bottom-left corner of the System Preferences window

3. Select Guest Account in the sidebar and check the box labeled Allow guests to log into this computer

Apple reminds you that logging in to the guest account does not require a password. Users cannot log in to the guest account remotely. When a guest user logs out, all information and files in the guest account’s home folder are deleted.


As of the latest iOS 7, Apple still does not support any type of guest mode for iPhones or iPads. Several recently discovered patents suggest that Apple might add these types of features in a future release, but there is no telling when that might happen. If you would like to try locking your iOS device with a single app, then give Guided Access a look.

Are you concerned about protecting your children while they use mobile devices? Check out Family Guardian to make sure your kids have fun and stay safe on their smartphones.

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