Leopard’s Parental Controls a possible source of resource hogging?


Leopard Parental Controls
Jon Buys wrote in letting me know of a little issue he’s having with the new Parental Controls feature of Leopard.

He writes in:

I enabled the Parental Controls on my new Leopard install, and after letting my kids play Frozen Bubble and browse to Playhouse Disney for an hour or so I found that the daemon named “parentalcontrolsd” was eating 98-100% of one of my cores (Core 2 Duo MacBook).

Anyone else had this issue with the new Parental Controls? Have certain applications possibly caused the increase in CPU usage?



4 kids have accounts on my laptop. The only parental control I use on those accounts is the time limits. Until upgrading to snow leopard, I had no problems, but now I have endless problems. If I add time to any of the accounts, it disables the time limits for all. In order to fix it I have to repair permissions and restart. Like others here, I need to have those limits in order to keep peace in the house. Snow Leopard has also slowed everything down on the laptop – and I don’t use any parental control but the time limits. This REALLY sucks.


Another problem to add……Seems the ability to add websites is not blocked at all. When we try to use the normal way (add admin user name and password), it does not work. However, if you cancel, it just let’s you add the website!


We bought 2 mac computers because we heard they were the best. I was pleased until I decided to use the parent controls. My first problem is the time I set for the computers to sign off. Sometimes it works and sometimes it dosen’t. I will set it and it will work and the next day or so it is back to original settings. My other problem is on the other computer the logs do not work.
I have been working on these problems for a solid month and I have changed my password twice thinking maybe the kids were changing the settings! I am frustrated beyond belief!


I have Leopard 10.5.6 and the parental controls usually worked until recently when the timer options have completely given up. I checked the settings and they are where I set them, but it is now 2 hours past when the boys should have been kicked off and there is no indication on the sign-in window that they can’t sign on.
This is really frustrating because they are home alone more as they get older and I would love the machine to kick them off when I am not around to do it. The iPod is just too tempting to realistically expect them to get off in a reasonable amount of time when I’m not around. Okay, I guess that means I should keep them off completely when I’m not here. But it won’t let me do that, either…..


Yep, same with me regarding no Internet access with parental controls enabled. Had my iMac since February and up until about a month ago (July ’08) it was working fine and now my kid’s accounts can’t access the Internet. Apple phone support was no help and neither were the Apple Genius’, as they call themselves, at two Apple stores. May end up getting a third party application to handle filtering. Lovely, another expense. Granted, there may be better applications to handle access and filtering, but so far I wasn’t that disappointed, except for some of the blocked sites that really shouldn’t be blocked. I also check the log files for their accounts to check for any sites that I think are bad. A lot of times as long as the kids know you’re actively looking at their activity that will act as a deterrent, until they go online at their friend’s house! ;-)

I do try and limit their usage, but I take an integrated approach which I suggest more people do. I set the ‘technology’ controls on the PC for usage times but I also have the ‘human’ control which is me making sure they don’t sit online for hours. More work, but they are my kids. “As long as they live under my roof and until they’re 18…” parents know the rest of this statement!!

Hopefully we’ll get improvements soon to these annoying problems.

Mac Parent

The timer can completely be ignored. I bout 2 new iMacs for my kids to keep them safe, based on the parental controls. Also I wanted to limit their time use to only one hour a day and 2 hours on weekend days. But my kids simply ignore the timer and are able to stay logged in! I have 5 children that use the computer, so it is important that I be able to revolve them. One tool for that was the time allotment. But it doesn’t work. Logging in to the parental controls (even though I’ve enabled it) from my macbook pro doesn’t work either. What gives Apple? I own 6 Macs total. I’ve converted my entire family. All I ask is that if the options are there, make them work!


Same deal happened to me now. My kids accounts were all completely locked out of internet access and only my administrator account worked. It had been working fine but then just stopped, no change in the parental control options. Reboot made no difference. Network utilities would work, pings from terminal no problem, dns resolved fine to public web sites from network utilities and terminal. But Safari, Firefox and even Mail were all locked out from the internet.
When I disabled parental controls on the kids accounts everything worked again. But of course now I have no parental controls. This is on a new Imac that shipped with Leopard. Looks like a bug that needs fixing. Nice to know it isn’t only happening to me.


Parental controls was working fine for me UNTIL I upgraded to 10.5.1. Now, anytime parental controls is active, regardless of the settings (even with no restrictions set in the kid’s account), the kids cannot get to the internet at all. Zero. All websites are blocked. I ran network utilities from their accounts and get good pings from google, etc. But Safari won’t connect to anything. As soon as I disable parental controls – no problem. Guess the 2nd law of thermodynamics applies to Apple too….entropy wins.


I finally bit the bullet and did a complete clean install of my system and was able to track down what in parental controls was causing 100% CPU usage.

The bottom line, on my system, is that when I enable restrictions on which programs a managed account can use, then and only then do I see the runaway CPU usage.

A work around to this is to use parental controls for the web site controls and for the time controls but not for the program controls. To implement program controls, I have manually edited the preferences for the programs I wish to control:

1. Set everyone to no-access
2. Add users to have read access that should be able to run various programs.

This is not ideal but I only wanted to restrict a handful of programs so it was not that time consumming for me. The only downside is that if a managed account downloads a program from the internet then they can run it until I take explicit action. For me this is ok since my main interest in parental controls was time and website restrictions.

Hope this helps!


I enabled parental controls for monitoring logging only…I left full web access…however, I simple sites like facebook or some car sites the parental controls limited access when i didn’t set any limits. Any thoughts on this?


For Dashboard issues, you can’t just remove the plist and cache files. I had to start up with my Leopard CD, go to Disk Utility, and repair permissions. Funny thing is, I know Dashboard has worked with Leopard. The Parental Control CPU hog issue is also new. Not sure what changed, but something set this off.


Why is it so hard any other blogs with this issue? I can’t find anything about this on apple’s site and it seems like it should be a noted issue. I too, have kids on the computer for 3-4 hours when their time limit is 1 hour. I also experience dashboard issues. I used to use MacMinder but was always a little leary about performance and other side-effects, so was excited when there was an integrated solution. Leopard Parental Controls not only had less features, the ones they do have don’t work. What a disappointment. And yes, shame on Apple for letting it go production in this state of disarray.


I have a MacBook pro running OS X Leopard. I’m no genius, but I’ve farted around with computers enough to know a little about what I’m doing.

Seems to me I’m not the only one who’s having issues with the parental controls thing…

I created a guest account on my laptop so my friends could use it, and I could be worry-free, but when I logged back into my other account via fast user switching, I had lost use of my Dashboard, and certain sites I go to regularly were blocked. What the heck?!!? When I was playing around in Garage Band, I noticed the parental controls daemon was using 98-100% of my CPU, which pissed me off completely, and so I force-quitted the process, which promptly fixed the problem for me.

By why the hell is Parental controls controlling MY account, when it’s not even enabled for me???

…and I noticed my computer has become slower. I don’t know if it’s part of the same problem, but maybe…

I somehow managed to fix the dashboard problem by force-quitting the dashboard daemon (if I remember correctly) and restarting it. Now I only can use the default Apple widgets. Allowing the other widgets using Parental Controls does nothing.

I’m quite frustrated, and I am very surprised Apple didn’t catch this…

As a Vista-hater, this comes as a shock… (OMG, Leopard has ISSUES…?!!? 8O *GASP!*)


I’ve been messing with the Weekday/Weekend/Bedtime settings and am finding them to be kind of a 50/50 chance (or less) of working. When you click on the pulldown menu for Fast User Switching or go to the login window it will show you what time they are next allowed to login if it is currently past the Bedtime setting time. This does not show up at all on one kid’s account and shows the wrong time on the other kid’s account!
It is now past the Bedtime setting for both of the accounts. One won’t let me login but the other will!
I’m truly disappointed to see Apple put out something so buggy as I have been a Mac Geek for many, many years. Parental Controls in Leopard are difficult to set – setting them in the Parental Controls preference pane is easy but after that I ran into problems galore. To really set things correctly for your kid you need to then log into their user account and set the preferences of the individual applications that you “allowed” them to use. Seems like that would be easy enough but what a nightmare! Especially if you’re getting things set for a younger child like my 5 yr. old and you’re giving them the “Simple Finder”. I must have had to use Fast User Switching over 100 times last night to get back to my account to get back to the Parental Control pref panel. Apple, you need to put some effort into FINISHING this ALPHA version of OS 10.5 Parental Controls. Worst experience I’ve EVER had using a Mac!

A couple definate things to fix:
–Make it possible to set up one account and when you finally have it tweaked the way you want it, let us duplicate another identical account that we can then make minor modifications to for those of us with more than one kid. Setting up two accounts for my kids must have taken me 10 hrs yesterday, no lie! 10 hrs. to setup two accounts that still can’t operate correctly under the time limits I set.
–Even though I had a “white list” of permitted web sites for my younger kid’s Simple Finder setup, Safari would start and display the same home page that was set under my account…the default livepage.apple.com, even though that page was not in their permitted site list. Good thing I didn’t have an “adult site” as my homepage!


I finally fixed my problem, but I had to do an archive and install. Now I just can’t use the parental controls until Apple fixes the problem.


I tried turning off the fast user switching but it
did not solve any problems for me…


You can fix the CPU issue by disabling fast user switching. Apple has a solution in its database somehere now describing this. However, Parental Controls is still next to useless. I’ve found the website blocking to be very clumsy (eg. you can allow a site, but then it still won’t allow pages within the site) and it seems that limiting access time takes no account of the fact the computer may be asleep. Hopeless. Clearly noone at Apple tried to use Parental Controls.


Why on earth does Apple offer an “Enable Parental Controls” button for an account but once it has been enabled there is no “Disable Parental Controls” button. What if your child comes of age and you want them to fly free from your Mac nest? What if you simply are getting a giant headache from the issues with Parental Controls described here in this forum and others?

Very un-Mac-like…

parentalcontrolsd continues to consume around 99% and sometimes up to 107% (?????) of processor resources on my MacPro Quad. Not sure what to do about it as a reboot does nothing to change this. I also noted crashreport doing something similar but a reboot made that go away. I found the following on Apple Discussions about deleting the daemon but I am not sure what that will do to the rest of the system besides eliminating parental controls completely (use at your peril):

“You can delete the deamon and then it will not be able to run.
Look in


and delete parentalcontrolsd.


I also found some reports that an archive and install after an upgrade eliminated the parental controls issue and some dashboard issues.
I personally performed an upgrade from Tiger to Leopard on my MacPro. If I do not find an answer to this problem I will next attempt the archive and install option.
More opining:
Parental Controls in Leopard looks like a beta test package rather than a robust tool for parents to use. If it is this flaky and complex then it will just be ignored by people that can really use it.


I have the same problem as well. Can any solution to solve this problem?


I had to reboot after turning off controls for the process to die. However, that still leaves the broken Dashboard to deal with. This can be partially resolved by deleting the two Dashboard preferences files in ~/Library/Preferences. Doing this restores access to Apple’s default widget set, but leaves use of 3rd party widgets broken.

Bill Patterson

I’m having this problem too. I’m not seeing it on my MacBook Pro, but it’s doing it on my MDD G4 Dual 1Ghz.

I had initially turned on the option to allow selected applications only, but then turning it off didn’t resolve the 98% CPU usage.

Any ideas?


I have all these problems +.
1) Broken dashboards on non-controlled accounts and some controlled accounts
2) 100% cpu usage by the parental control deamon
3) further, on some controlled accounts it doesn’t log out users after the time limits are reached.

This is like alpha software. They really should have tested this.


@Paul – Yea, no kidding. Well, that’s what we get for being early adopters. Here’s looking forward to 10.5.1.


Yep – have both problems with Leopard – both 100% CPU usage by Parental Controls and then broken Dashboard after enabling it (which is not repaired by disabling it!). Shame Apple didn’t test this feature before release…


I have lost use of dashboard on my admin account after enabling parental controls. there is a thread in the apple support forums where several users are having similar issues. do’nt see the cpu chewing that you are experiencing.

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