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I have two children under 4 who are quite computer-savvy, and have their own account managed by parental controls to restrict what they can do an see. However, I haven't found a way to disallow them from printing, and I'm looking for a way do so. Their pictures of Sesame Street and Word World are cute and all, but I'd like to be in control of what (or even if) they print. (Our printer is connected wirelessly, not directly to the Mac.) I know I can add more time or authorize use of a given application by providing my password — can I do something similar for printing, such as approving or denying particular print jobs?

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can do this with Workgroup Manager from the Server Admin Tools. Even though it is for Mac OS X server, it can be used on regular OS X.

You can either fully remove the printer from the user's printer list, or at the bottom, check off require an administrator password. The password option will present your children with a password prompt when they try to print, stopping them in their tracks if they don't know the password! Of course, for the password option to work you need to check off Allow printers that connect directly to user's computer, which I'm guessing this printer is directly connected?

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Choose whichever option suits you best!

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Thank you, looking at that right now. BTW, that link is for 10.5.5 — for Snow Leopard, support.apple.com/kb/DL968 points to the current latest version. –  Quinn Taylor Jan 25 '10 at 5:18
    
Ah. Thanks, updated. –  John T Jan 25 '10 at 5:23
    
The options are a little odd, but I added the printer to the user's printer list, then required admin password under the "Access" tab. I also had to click "Always" to get the settings to apply. Kludgy in some ways, but it worked. Thanks! –  Quinn Taylor Jan 25 '10 at 7:13
    
You're most welcome! –  John T Jan 25 '10 at 19:59
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Unfortunately, the Workgroup Manager from the Server Admin Tools (as shown above) does NOT work for accounts that have Parental Controls enabled. The "User's Print" List just has "Data Varies" in it. If I try and set Manage: to "Always", when I apply, it just goes back to both "Always" AND "Never." It seems that Workgroup Manager is deferring control of printers to Parental Controls when enabled for the account which does not have the ability to prevent printing or control which printers can be used. :-( ..and yes, this is Snow Leopard.

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Just pause the printer queue? If they can trouble shoot that...they deserve to print whatever they want. Plus that puts them miles ahead of the average user...so they can get a job doing tech support and pay for the paper and toner they use :-D

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Not a good solution. I still want to print, and don't want to have to remember to pause the queue before they log in. I appreciate the humor, but this really isn't feasible. –  Quinn Taylor Jan 25 '10 at 18:09
    
What if you set the default printer as a dummy printer? Would they know to change it, and would that be simple enough to switch to a non-default when you wanted to print? Other than that, I would say just make a separate account for them without the printer installed? It looks like the guest account with parental controls enabled has the option of not allowing them to administer printers. I assume that means they can not add a printer. –  gavaletz Jan 26 '10 at 1:26
    
Well, that's another idea, but sometimes I do want to be able to print something, but only with parental approval. A dummy printer might help somewhat, but children are amazingly skilled at testing the effectiveness of parental controls, even if unwittingly. They click on everything and know how to use menus, so I wouldn't count out the possibility of them figuring it out. The accepted answer works the best of every suggestion I've received and anything I've tried. :-) –  Quinn Taylor Jan 26 '10 at 3:58
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