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With OS X I wan the ability to log in to the computer as admin but set myself to another user on the system so I'm working on their profile with their privs, see all their settings, files, and run programs in their user context.

How can I get this to work? I know I can do this with terminal. For instance I can log into the terminal as root, then do su username and now I'm username. It would make things ten times easier for us to fix stuff if we had that ablity in the GUI too. Any ideas?

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Why do you want to do this? Couldn't you just log in as the user and then escalate privileges whenever you needed to? To my knowledge there's no possibility to do what you want. – slhck Feb 28 '13 at 21:39
Me neither. This fixes a scenario where the user has a problem with their machine and doesn't have time for us to fix it while they're there. But when they leave, their machine locks after a certain amount of time. As an admin, it'd be great to be able to piggy-back to their login and test out their problem. There's no security problem if it's logged like I'm sure it is with SU in the terminal too. – user203204 Feb 28 '13 at 21:47

The GUI way to switch users is the username menu. If I'm logged in as "Administrator", there's a menu on the right of the menubar named "Administrator". If I pull that down to "minopret" I'm prompted for my password, and after entering it successfully the GUI switches to minopret's desktop. Then I can continue to switch back and forth. When I want to close one of the desktops, I can use "Log Out minopret" or "Log Out Administrator" under the apple menu.

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Right, but that would require that the user share their password. I know I said this before, but that's much different than admin-piggybacking as long as it's logged. The other alternative is that the admin could change their password temporarily, but that's not practical because it would cause other things they access with their password to not work. – user203204 Feb 28 '13 at 22:12
Switching desktops is precisely the same thing for GUIs as su is for shells. Were you asking for something other than that? It's actually safer in terms of password. There's little chance of a keylogger listening in on the GUI password entry process, which is managed by Mac OS X. It is easily possible for a keylogger to grab the password that you type in a Terminal window. – minopret Feb 28 '13 at 22:14
Maybe you wanted to log in as Administrator, then switch to (in my example) minopret without needing to type minopret's password. It seems like that should be possible. I haven't looked yet for how it's done. We know that Administrator has the ability to sudo -s to root, so Administrator must be able to do absolutely anything by one method or another. – minopret Feb 28 '13 at 22:29
Yes, I'd say your second comment applies. I'm not even sure how to google that. It's like SU for Aqua or something like that, so that you can elevate to admin, then from there su to any user you want without the need to specify a password. – user203204 Feb 28 '13 at 23:03
Been trying to figure it out . . . "loginwindow console" runs as my username, and if I were to kill that process off as root, all of the stuff I'm running would die with it. I almost wonder if it's possible to get another one of those running under the target user context. – user203204 Feb 28 '13 at 23:05

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