Solved: a Snow Leopard bug that blocks Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail when activating Parental Controls
Snow Leopard is great… Maybe not. It has a few weird and annoying bugs and drawbacks that really hurt its functionality. There are graphic glitches on my macbook (2007) when running Plex and XBMC, the creepy data loss bug,and no parallels 2.5 free upgrade support, just to mention some. So good to be the most advanced operating system in the planet, huh?
Anyway, despite the minor bugs, I am very happy with my mac, so happy as to make my family have a Mac Mini for Xmas (bye bye windows troubleshooting!). Here is the scenario:
- Equipment: Mac Mini (2009) with Mac OS X 10.6.2 (Snow Leopard)
- Users: A 68 year old woman and two little brats (both boys ages 12 and 10)
- Prevent the brats from installing or running undesired applications and intelligently block rated R websites.
- Simplify usage for the senior user (system logs in automatically after turning on the computer.
Configuring the System
- Create a new account without administrative privileges and activate parental controls. A detailed procedure for doing this can be found here. We will call the login of this account “NameOfTheAccountWithRestrictions“.
- Eliminate the startup login window bay making the newly created account the one that logs onto the computer automatically by default. You can do this by going:
‘System Preferences>Accounts>Login Options>Automatic Login’
Then select the account created with parental controls from the drop box next to “Automatic Login”. For this example we would select the login “NameOfTheAccountWithRestrictions“
Parental Control Settings:
- Go to System Preferences>Parental Controls
- Then Select the account that automatically logs onto the computer (in our case “NameOfTheAccountWithRestrictions”).
- To restrict the applications to only the ones approved by the administrator do: ‘System Preferences > Parental Controls > “NameOfTheAccountWithRestrictions” > System’ and check on “Selected Applications” the ones that you would like to allow. If new applications are installed or run, the user will be prompted to introduce a login with administrator privileges and you can set wether you would like it to run once, or forever for the user with restrictions.
- To restrict access to websites with adult content go to: ‘System Preferences > Parental Controls > “NameOfTheAccountWithRestrictions” > Content’ and click on “Try to limit access to adult websites automatically”.
Theoretically this should do the job… But you actually thought the story would have a happy ending? Under this configuration, whenever I tried to check my gmail, yahoo or hotmail I would get a message from the browser saying: “Safari can’t find the server. Safari can’t open the page “https://… Safari can’t find the server https://…”.
The Snow Leopard Issue
Apparently when you try to do the “Try to limit access to adult websites automatically” option, Parental Controls not only blocks websites with inappropiate content, but it also blocks sites that it cannot read, i.e. the ones under a secure connection (addresses that start with https://). So none of the conventional web based emails would work under this setup.
Solving the Gmail, Yahoo mail and Hotmail Issue with the Mac OS X Parental Controls
After much reading and frustration, I came accross this link. There it is suggested that one has to allow explicitly some sites under ‘System Preferences > Parental Controls > “AccountWithRestrictions” > Content > Try to limit access to adult websites automatically > Customize’.
- To allow hotmail add:
- To allow yahoo mail add:
- And finally, to allow Gmail, add:
Notice that for the gmail account, the .com at the end of the url is replaced by a .*.*, this is done because google redirects tend to add suffixes to the address of the secure site.
So far online email is not blocked, and everyone is happy, except for the kids, who can’t see Adult content on the web anymore=)