How to Use Screen Time on Mac

Parth Shah

Apple quietly brought the Screen Time feature in the macOS 10.15 Catalina update following it's inclusing in iOS. Screen Time enables users to keep track of their usage and place self-imposed limits on their time using their Mac. With the current work from home situation, it's necessary to take regular breaks from the office work. Using the Screen Time add-on on Mac, you can take a close look at how your previous week went in productivity and work.

Screen time on mac

Screen Time also serves as a parental control system since it can place restrictions on what a child can access, who they can contact, and how long they spend on apps, websites, and more. Apple first introduced Screen Time with iOS 12 in 2018 to help users be more intentional with their time on the iPhone and iPad. This post will help you understand how to make maximum out of the Screen Time function on Mac.

Enable Screen Time on Mac

First, you should check whether your Mac is running at least macOS 10.15 Catalina or a newer version. After confirming that, open the System Preference menu and update your Mac to the latest available OS. Now follow the steps below.

Step 1: Launch System Preferences from your Mac's Dock, from the Applications folder, or from the Apple menu bar.

Step 2: Select Screen Time in the preference panel.

Step 3: Click the Options button in the bottom-left corner.

Turn on screen time

Step 4: Click the Turn On button in the top-right corner.

Share Screen Time Across All Mac Devices

If you are constantly juggling multiple Mac devices, you need to enable the share Screen Time option from the System Preferences menu. Go through the steps below to make the necessary changes.

Step 1: Click Screen Time in System Preferences.

Step 2: Select the Options button at the bottom left.

Share screen time across devices

Step 3: Check the Share Across Devices box.

Now that you have enabled the Screen Time option, it’s time to explore all the functions available to users.

Screen Time Functions

App Usage: You can check details about all the apps you've used daily or week with details like how long have you used them.

App usage

Notifications: You can find out the number of notifications you've received on your phone on a particular day and time frame.

Pickups: The menu shows you how many times you picked up your devices throughout the day or week.

Pickups

Downtime: You can set a scheduled where in you allow only specific apps available for usage. You'll get a reminder exactly 5 minutes before downtime starts.

App Limits: You could set usage time limits for different apps and app categories.

Always Allowed: You might have a list of apps that are always allowed and available during downtime.

Content & Privacy: This option replaces the Parental Controls in earlier versions of macOS. You can enable or disable content by type, Apple online store, or specific app, as well as allow or disallow passcode changes, account changes, and other options for which you may want to restrict changes.

Content and privacy

My biggest gripe with the Screen Time function is, it calculates all the apps open in the background. For example, if you have Slack open for team communication all day, then you will see it counted in the Screen Time menu.

The practice defeats the purpose of using Screen Time in the first place. A user can’t pinpoint the exact app usage for the day or week.

Add Password to Screen Time on Mac

After making relevant changes in the Screen Time menu, you won’t want anyone to modify that. To prevent that, you can add a passcode to the Screen Time menu on Mac. Follow the steps below to add them.

Step 1: Click Screen Time in System Preferences.

Step 2: Select the Options button at the bottom left.

Add screen time passcode

Step 3: Check the Use Screen Time Password box.

Approve Screen Time on Mac

Screen Time shows Requests when you have unanswered requests from a child account. Here's how to find them.

Step 1: Select Screen Time in System Preferences.

Step 2: Select Requests in the sidebar.

Approve requests

Step 3: Any requests for more time will appear under Requests. To manage a request, click Don't Approve or choose Approve, then select one of three options from the dropdown: Approve for 15 minutes, Approve for an hour, or Approve all day.

Keep Track of Mac Usage

You can use Screen Time on Mac to boost your productivity or just scale down on the extra time you might be spending on some unproductive apps. Go through the steps above and set up Screen Time on Mac. By default, the service sends the weekly stats at 9 AM on Sunday. You should enable the Screen Time function on your Mac to track your usage. After a couple of weeks of setting it up, you will be surprised to see the change in your productivity and usage pattern.

Next up: Looking to get a capable PDF editor on Mac? Read the post linked below to find the best 5 PDF editors for Mac.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Parth Shah

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Parth Shah

Parth previously worked at EOTO.tech covering tech news. He is currently freelancing at Guiding Tech writing about apps comparison, tutorials, software tips and tricks and diving deep into iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows platforms.