Sharing a computer

You probably couldn’t imagine sleeping in the bed somebody else slept in just minutes before, or eating off the same plate somebody else just finished with. Yet all sorts of people share computers using the same account. They see other people’s messes on the desktop. They can review their calendars and contacts and documents and other things they probably shouldn’t.

There’s a better way to share a computer: set up a separate user account for each person who uses a computer.

A discreet user account gives the person who owns it a discreet environment in which to work. There’s a private calendar that doesn’t show appointments for other people. Private contact lists, mail folders, document folders and other things that shouldn’t be shared won’t be shared. It’s like having your own bedroom, closets and other stuff in your house meant for your exclusive use (though you can let people see that stuff if you choose).

As well as the hardware, you can share the applications on your computer. These act like the kitchen, where people prepare meals. But everybody sits at their own place settings (the user account) and eats their own food (the documents).

The video below goes into other facets of user accounts, like fast user switching (which lets you switch desktops without having to log out or restart the computer) and shared folders (which let you share documents with other people who use that computer). This video shows the Mac version of such tools, but they exist for Windows computers as well. Just check your Windows control panel for more information.

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