Windows Me - Multi-user environments

If you happen to use a computer that is also used by other people, it may be beneficial to set up multiple user profiles on your system so that each user can feel comfortable in their own environment. Windows Me allows you to do this from the Control Panel.

HIDE AND SEEK It is important to note that by creating new users you won't actually be denying anyone access to anything on the computer. You will simply be creating an environment for them that will store their personal settings such as their Favorites, wallpaper and desktop settings without affecting any of the other users of the computer.

Also, program installations initiated by one user will not show up on the Programs menu of any of the other users (assuming this option is selected), which in effect makes it more difficult for other users to find programs that they're not supposed to use. This is especially useful for families who share one computer with children.

If many users are to share the same programs, it is wise to install them all prior to creating any user profiles, so the programs can be accessed easily through their Programs menu.

DIFFERENTIATION The first thing you should do is launch the Passwords applet from the Control Panel, click on the User Profiles tab and make sure that the radio button is placed next to "Users can customize their preferences and desktop settings". From the User Profiles section of the dialogue box you can also specify whether the desktop icons and Start menu options are included in profile changes (this will affect what each user sees on their desktop and Start menu).

ADDING USERS Adding more users to your system is a fairly simple task. Go to the Control Panel and double-clicking the Users applet. The User Settings dialogue box will open and you will see a blank user list. To add a user, click on the New User. button. A wizard will start up that will aid you the rest of the way. Click Next, enter the new user's user name and click Next again. The following screen asks you to enter a password, but this can be left blank if you wish. On the ensuing screen you can select which items will be personalised, such as the desktop and Favorites folder, among a couple of others, by placing a check mark in their respective boxes.

On the bottom of that screen you will see two options. They ask whether you want to create a new blank desktop and settings for this new user (the bottom option) or whether the current desktop content and related settings will suffice (the top option). Electing to leave the settings as they are will take up more disk space, as they will be copied to the new user's profile. Electing to create an empty profile will provide a nice clean desktop, and an empty Programs menu, for example. After you make your selection, click Next and then Finish on the last screen.

MAKING CLONES If a particular user has settings that you would like to duplicate for another user, this can be achieved by again launching the Users applet. From the list of users, select the user you would like to duplicate and click on the Make Copy button. You can then proceed to create the new user, and when they log on they will have the same settings as the user that was copied.

EASY LOGON To entice your different users to use their new identities, it may be worthwhile installing the Microsoft Family Logon client, as this will display a list of users at boot up, rather than a boring old typical logon prompt, which may tempt them to press Cancel. See for an example of this.

To add this client you once again need to pay the Control Panel a visit. Double-click on the Network applet and from the Configuration tab click the Add button. From the ensuing screen you will need to select Client from the left pane and then click Add. The next screen shows the Microsoft options available to you: select Microsoft Family Logon and click OK. Make sure you have your Windows Me CD-ROM handy in case it's required for the installation of this client.

You're almost done. The final step is to select this new client to be your Primary Network Logon from the drop-down list in the Configuration tab, click OK and restart your computer.

Note: Microsoft Family Logon should only be used in a non-networked home environment. An office environment may require another client to enable you to log onto a specific network.


When your session is done, sign off of the system by selecting Log Off. from the Start menu instead of restarting the whole computer.

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