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I know next to nothing about Mac machines, so if anyone can offer some 
advice on or off list, that would be swell. Here's the situation:

One of our departments has a standalone mac machine, which they use for 
specialized work. The user is on administrative leave and is not 
contact-able. When this person left, the mac was left running, and 
running under the person's (admin) account. This is great, in some 
respects, because the department wants to be able to use the machine. 
But they would also like to turn it off at night and/or they are 
developing the reasonable fear that they will do x amount of work on the 
machine then someone will reflexively turn it off and they'll lose 
access to all that wonderful work.

I tried to create another account but couldn't do it without providing 
the password for the currently-running admin account. Is there a 
reasonable work around that would allow for the creation of a second 
account?

I'm afraid I didn't note the OS version.