Use Your Mac’s Display screen Time Characteristic

A common problem with using their digital devices is spending too much time in front of a screen. Apple's solution to this is the Screen Time feature, which came on the Mac with macOS Catalina.

If you need help monitoring your own Screen Time, keep track of your own and family's app usage and Screen Time behavior, or need help managing and restricting your Mac usage habits, you need to use Screen Time. Here's what you need to know to get the most of it.

How to enable Screen Time on a Mac

For starters, the feature only works on Macs with macOS Catalina or higher. How to activate the function:

  1. Open that Apple Menu and click System settings.

  2. Choose Screen time > Options.

  3. click To turn on in the upper right corner of the window. To turn it off, just go back to Options and click Turn off.

How to use Screen Time across devices

As busy people, we often switch from one device to another. Tracking a single device in isolation gives you an incomplete picture of your screen time. However, if you're an Apple user, you can turn on Screen Time to keep track of your usage across all of your devices.

Related: iOS's Screen Time feature will curb your phone addiction

To view a combined screen time report from all devices signed into your iCloud account, just go to System settings > Screen time > Options, then tick Share across devices.

How to set up a Screen Time passcode

If you're sharing your Mac or using Screen Time to enforce restrictions on your child's device, it's important to have a Screen time passcode so that you are the only one who can change your Screen Time settings. You can also use this passcode to accept requests for more time when your kids reach their app limits.

To create one Screen time passcode:

  1. Go to System settings > Screen time > Options.

  2. Check the box for Use screen time passcode.

  3. Create a passcode to use.

If you hire Screen time passcode While signed in with an administrator account, you will be prompted to convert your account to a standard account.

The command prompt gives you two options:

  • Allow this user to manage this computer. If you choose this option, the passcode will also be applied to the administrator account, which is not recommended as administrators can bypass the passcode restrictions with their administrator privileges
  • Do not allow this user to manage this computer. If you select this option, your current administrator account will be converted to a standard account for your child to use. You will also be guided through the steps to create a new administrator account for your own use as a parent or guardian.

How to view your screen time data on Mac

There are several ways you can view your Mac's Screen Time data. Go to System Settings> Screen Time to get started.

To check your usage on a device, click the drop-down menu at the bottom of the window and select a device.

If you want to reduce your screen time, you can compare your current week's total usage to last week by clicking the date at the top of the window and then selecting In this week. This view also shows you your total consumption for the week.

If you want to view the usage of a specific day, simply click on a bar in the weekly chart. Another graph should appear below the weekly chart showing your hourly usage.

There are also options to see more usage breakdowns in the sidebar.

App usage

Use this feature to monitor how much time you spend on each app. You can view your usage by app or category, with the data broken down into categories like Social, Shopping & eating, and Productivity & Finance. To select one, click App usage, then next to it Demonstrate Choose either Apps or Categories.


See how many notifications you get from each app with the Notifications Tab in screen time settings. Since notifications are often distracting, this feature can be useful when deciding whether to mute the notifications of certain apps.


the Pickups Tab gives you a glimpse of how often you checked your device and which app you opened first, which also gives a good insight into your Mac usage.

How to Limit Mac Usage with Screen Time

Screen Time includes a number of features that allow you to manage and limit the time you spend on your Mac.


Use this feature when you want to limit the apps that you can use at certain times. For example, allow yourself to only use work-related apps during work hours. You will receive a notification of the downtime five minutes in advance and another notification if you have reached your limit once the downtime begins.

If that Screen time passcode is on, Downtime contains another setting called Lock in case of failurewhere you have to enter the passcode to extend your limit for another minute, hour or for the rest of the day.

App limits

This feature allows you to limit the amount of time you or your family members should spend looking at the screen. You can set restrictions on categories of apps like social networks and games, specific apps, or even websites. Just enter a specific app or website in the search box to set a limit.

After switching on, you will receive a notification five minutes before the app limit begins. Every time you hit the limit, a window will tell you that you have reached the limit. You can either hit OK and stop using the app or select Ignore the limit, then choose Just a minute, Remind me in 15 minutes, or Ignore the limit for today.


Choose the people who can communicate with you on your Mac and other Apple devices. You can also choose specific people to meet you during the Downtime The function is switched on.

These limits apply to your iCloud contacts and Apple messaging apps, including Phone, FaceTime, and Messages. However, you can only use this feature if Contacts is enabled in your iCloud settings. Restrictions do not apply to emergency numbers.

Always allowed

Set apps that you or your child can always access, even when app limits and downtime are enabled. Phone, Messages, Maps, and FaceTime are included by default, but you can change them here or add additional apps.

Content & data protection

You can set restrictions on websites, purchases, and downloads on your Mac, including an option to restrict explicit language or adult content. You will get a prompt explaining why you cannot access this content when you try.

If you use this feature for your child, you can also configure the settings to only allow access to certain websites. Once you've enabled the Screen Time passcode, your child can request your permission to access a specific website.

Here's how to limit your kid's screen time from a Mac

If you're using Family Sharing, you can turn on Screen Time on your child's device. However, you can also do this on your Mac. In order to do this:

  1. Go to Apple Menu and click System settings > Family sharing.

  2. Select in the sidebar Screen time. The first time you're managing your family's screen time, a prompt will appear. click Open screen time settings.

  3. Select your child's name from the drop-down menu under your photo. click Options, and then select To turn on to enable screen time for your child.

  4. Once enabled, go to Downtime, App Limits, Communications, Always Allowed, and Content & Privacy to set up any limits you want for your child's device.

Read more: Restricting content and setting restrictions for kids with Screen Time on Mac

You can also use the Screen Time passcode in your child's Screen Time settings to ensure that only you can set and change Screen Time settings and approve your child's requests for Screen Time extensions.

It's easy to manage Screen Time on Mac

The Mac's Screen Time feature lets you keep track of the time you spend on apps and websites, and use various means to enforce boundaries and reduce distractions while using your Mac. You can even use Screen Time as a parental control measure to implement restrictions on your child's apps.

How to install parental controls on an iPhone or iPad

Activate parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to protect them from the dangers of the online world.

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About the author

Rachel Melegrito
(77 articles published)

Rachel Melegrito gave up her college teaching career to become a full-fledged content writer. She loves everything from Apple – from iPhones to Apple Watches to MacBooks. She is also a licensed occupational therapist and budding SEO strategist.

By Rachel Melegrito

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