Yesterday, I introduced you to Apple’s Screen Time, a feature that allows you to monitor usage and set usage limits on Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones.  Click here to read that article.

Today, we’ll learn how to use Screen Time to set usage limits for yourself and for others who use your devices.

Let’s start by making sure it’s turned on.  Click the Apple icon at the top left of your screen and choose System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

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Then choose Screen Time.

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The Screen Time window will open.

Click the Apple icon at the top left of your screen and choose System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

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Then choose Screen Time.

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The Screen Time window will open. Click the three-dot menu icon at the bottom left.

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Click the on/off button at the right to turn Screen Time off or on. This is where you can also choose to share the same Screentime settings across all of your Apple devices (Mac, iPhone, and iPad).  You also have the option to set a passcode for your Screen Time settings. If you have kids it’s a very good idea to passcode protect the settings. Your time limits won’t do much good if a tech-savvy tween shuts them off.

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Now, let’s take a look at what you can control using Screen Time. We’ll start by clicking on Downtime in the left column.

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Downtime allows you to set a schedule for your computer, phone, or iPad that turns it off a certain time during the day or at specific times on different days of the week.  For example, you might shut off access to electronic devices at 8 p.m. on school nights. Users will receive a reminder five minutes in advance. If you want to limit your own time on devices, you can do the same thing. Of course, as long as you have the passcode, you can always change it. Unless you switch them off, phone calls and iMessages will still come through on your phone.

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In addition to shutting devices off at certain times of the day, you can also control the time of day and number of minutes a day that all or certain apps are used. If you want to limit gameplay, but allow yourself of another user to work on a paper, you could limit gameplay to just an hour but leave unrestricted access to LibreOffice or Word. Start by choosing App Limits.

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When the App Limits window opens, make sure you turn App Limits on with the button at the upper right corner.

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To add a limit, click the + sign at the bottom left.

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You can choose to set limits by for all apps and categories or to pick a particular category like Social. Set a limit for every day or click on Custom to set specific limits for different days of the week.

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You can scroll or type a specific app in the search box at the top of the window. Make sure to select Done when you’ve finished adding limits.

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Once you’ve added a limit to an app or category, it will appear in the window. You can click the Edit button to change or delete it by hitting the minus button.

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Select Always Allowed to exclude certain apps from Downtime and category app limits.

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Just tick the box beside the app you want to always be available. By default, some apps like Messaging may be selected. Untick the box if you don’t want it to be available during Downtime or restricted time.

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In the third part of this series, we’ll look at how to use Screentime to set content and privacy restrictions.