Cloud connectIf school-owned computers are being shared by staff and students only to access their personal files or shared resources on remote cloud servers (such as Google Drive), there is little need to have individual local network logons.

So long as each computer has a network connection, computers can be setup with a generic software installation (ie – a generic ‘image’), with a common ‘guest’ auto-logon for everyone who uses them. Authentication isn’t required until each user connects to their remote server account – and this account is managed by the cloud provider, not the school.

This simplifies image maintenance, and removes the need for a local authentication server, along with maintenance of user accounts on that server.

In this case a ‘kiosk’ account, aka a ‘Guest’ account, is the ideal option. Regardless of what settings are changed by the user, the account is reset to it’s default settings every time the user logs out.

While each OS, each school (or even each class), may have different individual requirements, and Guest access can be used straight out of the box without any modification, here are some key items to consider if you are customising a generic image for computers with a Guest account…

Scroll down the page for step-by-step How-to guides >>>

General setup considerations for ‘Kiosk’ computers
Users Guest user….

  • All preferences and settings are reset to the default configuration on logout, with options for saving (or not saving) files locally….
    • all files saved to the cloud, with no option to save files locally. 
    • an option to save files to a pre-defined local ‘shared’ folder – just in case!
      (See OS X Guest account setup guide below)

As well as the Guest user, you might consider options for other local users on each computer, if you feel that would be more flexible…

  • An admin user, who is able to configure the system prefs;
  • student user, with no password, who is able save files to the computer;
  • Alternatively, you could have two additional generic users – ‘Teacher’ and “Student’;
  • Maybe, all of the above!
Parental Controls Set ‘Parental Controls’ or similar restrictions:

  • Restrict Desktop / Dock changes;
  • Restrict Control Panel access;
  • No need to restrict internet access if this is being controlled by your school organisation’s network proxy/filter server.
Connect to server Cloud Access:

  • Set each browser to default to the school / class resources page (see Online Classroom);
  • Provide a link on the default Home page to your school’s Cloud service provider, and/or…
  • Include a Dock or Desktop alias/shortcut to the Cloud provider’s login (eg Google Drive).
Browsers Web Browser(s):


How-to Guides  

macOS – Enable & customise the Guest account
Step-by-step guide to permanently modifying the preferences for the default OS X Guest user, as well as adding a Google Drive icon on the Desktop (and circumventing Keychain issues!)

Windows Windows 7 – Enable Guest account
Enable the default Guest account to prevent the user from modifying files on the computer.
Windows Windows 10 – Guest account
As of late July 2015 there does not appear to be a Guest user option in Windows 10.
Chromebooks Chromebooks – Enable Guest account
Not really necessary if each user has a Google account, but may be useful for visitors to the school, etc.
wazmacShared computers for cloud servers