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Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Mavericks Edition by David Pogue

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Fast User Switching

The account system described so far in this chapter has its charms. It keeps everyone’s stuff separate, it keeps your files safe, and it lets you have the desktop picture of your choice.

Unfortunately, it can go from handy to hassle in one split second. That’s when you’re logged in, and somebody else wants to duck in just for a second—to check email or a calendar, for example. What are you supposed to do—log out completely, closing all your documents and quitting all your programs, just so the interloper can look something up? Then afterward, you’d have to log back in and fire up all your stuff again, praying that your inspirational muse hasn’t fled in the meantime.

Top: The appearance of the Accounts menu lets you know that Fast User Switching is turned on. The circled checkmark indicates people who are already logged in, including those who have been “fast user switched” into the background. The dimmed name shows who’s logged in right now.Bottom: When the screen changes from your account to somebody else’s, your entire world slides visibly offscreen as though it’s mounted on the side of a rotating cube—a spectacular animation made possible by OS X’s Quartz Extreme graphics software.

Figure 14-12. Top: The appearance of the Accounts menu lets you know that Fast User Switching is turned on. The circled checkmark indicates people who are already logged in, including those who have been “fast user switched” into the background. The dimmed name shows who’s logged in right now. Bottom: When the screen changes from your account to somebody else’s, your entire world slides visibly offscreen as though it’s mounted on the side of a rotating cube—a spectacular animation made possible by OS X’s Quartz Extreme graphics software.

Fortunately, that’s all over now. Fast User Switching lets Person B log in and use the Mac for a little while. All your stuff, Person A, simply slides into the background, ...

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