Updated on: August 27, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best parental control app for Mac in 2023:
Qustodio: Offers comprehensive web filtering, daily screen time limits, scheduling, app blocking, and even YouTube monitoring. Compatible with macOS El Capitan (10.11) and newer versions of Mac. Provides a 3-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Mac has some decent built-in parental controls, but they’re limited. They only provide basic screen time features and the option to set restrictions on inappropriate content. In addition, to manage and monitor your kids’ Mac usage, you have to set up an Apple ID for each child and use Family Sharing, which is quite unintuitive.
A better way to monitor your child’s Mac usage is with a good parental control app. Parental control apps give you more control over your kids’s online activities, and they also allow you to schedule the time spent on their Mac devices.
I tested 30+ parental apps to find the best ones for Mac. My personal favorite is
Quick summary of the best parental control apps for Mac in 2023:
- 🥇 1.
Qustodio— Best overall parental control app for Mac in 2023.
- 🥈 2.
FamiSafe— Excellent for monitoring your child’s browser history on Mac.
- 🥉 3.
Mobicip— Great for scheduling and app and website filtering.
Kaspersky Safe Kids— Allows you to set flexible time limits for Mac.
Bark— Good for web filtering on Mac devices.
- Comparison of the Best Parental Control Apps for Mac.
Qustodio — Best Overall Parental Control App for Mac
You can also restrict your child’s Mac usage by limiting their daily screen time. Qustodio allows you to set up a daily screen time allowance in increments of 15 minutes. Once the screen time is up, you can choose to Lock Navigation (block internet access on all web browsers) or Lock Device (log your child out from their Mac, preventing online and offline use). I liked that I received an alert when my kid reached their screen time limit. This way, I didn’t have to constantly check if their screen time was up.
Along with daily screen time limits, you can also schedule when your child uses their Mac. Qustodio divides the day into morning, afternoon, and night, and you can easily choose your desired restricted periods. I used this feature to prevent my kids from accessing the web on their MacBooks between 5pm and 7pm. This way, I was sure that they were focusing on their homework tasks. Keep in mind that you can only restrict times to hour-long intervals.
Qustodio also offers an impressive app-blocking feature for Mac. Most parental control apps display a full list of apps on the child’s device, which means you have to spend a lot of time scrolling and searching for anything malicious. Qustodio, on the other hand, shows only the apps when your child uses them, which will save you a lot of time. You also have the option to receive alerts when your child uses a particular app, and you can either block access to it or set daily time limits on it.
The Safe Search feature forces Google, Bing, and YouTube to use their built-in SafeSearch modes. These modes filter out results from inappropriate search terms and stop your children from seeing explicit content. In addition, Qustodio reports all the search terms your child has entered, so you can easily see a list of them from your parent’s app and identify anything inappropriate.
You can even monitor your child’s YouTube activity on their Mac device. With this feature, you can see your child’s YouTube searches and the videos they watch. Additionally, the YouTube Monitoring feature enables you to block both the YouTube site and the app or set time limits for the YouTube app. Furthermore, you can access more detailed information about the videos your child watches on the YouTube site, including the YouTube channel name and video thumbnail.
Qustodio allows you to “hide” its presence on macOS devices. Enabling this feature will redirect your child to Google when they try to access a blocked site. Plus, it will hide Qustodio’s icon in the system tray and notification bar. However, I don’t advise using this option, as I think it’s better to have an open discussion with your child about using a parental control app.
It has a user-friendly app for Mac that’s easy to navigate. Plus, Qustodio’s parental web app offers detailed activity reports. From the main window, you can also pick which child to monitor, add a new child profile, or add new devices with just a few clicks. I particularly like the small question mark icons, which provide you with detailed explanations for certain features and settings. Qustodio is compatible with macOS El Capitan (10.11) up to the latest macOS version.
Qustodio is the best parental control app for Mac. Its web filtering covers popular web browsers and even allows you to block unsupported ones. Qustodio allows you to set daily screen time limits and schedule your child’s Mac usage. It can also block apps and even comes with YouTube monitoring. Qustodio is compatible with macOS El Capitan (10.11) up to the latest macOS version. It offers a 3-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
FamiSafe — Monitor Your Child’s Browser History on Mac
Its web content filtering also detects and blocks inappropriate content, using an extensive database of unsafe search terms and websites. It prevents access to content in 19 categories, including Pornography, Drugs, Weapons, and more. Every time your child tries to access a blocked website, you’ll receive a notification. In addition, I like that you can also easily add new terms to the blacklist.
FamiSafe’s app filtering allows you to block apps on your child’s MacBook. During my tests, it seamlessly blocked downloaded apps from the Apple App Store. In addition, FamiSafe allows you to prevent the downloading of apps by blocking the Apple App Store altogether.
Its screen time controls also help you manage your child’s screen time on their Mac device. You can instantly block your child’s Mac device (this blocks your kid from opening any apps), set screen time limits, and schedule downtime. Once your kid’s screen time is up, they get a 1-minute timer to finish what they’re doing. However, I was a bit disappointed that you can’t set time restrictions for apps on Mac and can only block your entire computer. Qustodio lets you set time limits for specific apps on Mac.
FamiSafe also offers a Safe Search feature. This blocks your kids from finding inappropriate content online. However, the feature is limited to certain search engines. In my tests, Safe Search worked effectively on Google and Bing, but it didn’t work with Ask, DuckDuckGo, or AOL.
The FamiSafe app is easy to use. Each feature is accessible in a single menu, and each setting can be changed or toggled in just a few seconds. However, I was a bit disappointed that there isn’t an auto-logout feature, which means that your kids can change any setting if you accidentally forget to log out and leave your computer unlocked. FamiSafe is compatible with macOS 10.6 and higher.
FamiSafe allows you to monitor the browser history on your child’s Mac. It also detects and blocks inappropriate content and allows app filtering. Screen time controls help manage your child’s Mac usage, and Safe Search blocks inappropriate content on the biggest search engines. However, the app lacks an auto-logout feature. FamiSafe is compatible with macOS 10.6 and up and offers a 7-day money-back guarantee.
Mobicip — Comprehensive Scheduling of Your Child’s Mac Usage
There’s also impressive web and app filtering. The web filtering feature works with most major browsers available on Mac and allows you to block specific websites and also create custom filters based on keywords to block specific content. Mobicip’s app filtering feature let me block certain apps from the App Store to prevent my kids from downloading them.
Mobicip provides social media monitoring on Mac, too. This feature alerts you of any inappropriate or worrisome messages on your child’s Mac, providing you with a snapshot of concerning messages. However, keep in mind that Mobicip’s social media monitoring on Mac is limited to Facebook and Instagram — Qustodio covers a lot more social media sites..
The intuitive web app for parents makes navigation easy, even for those new to parental control apps. Plus, adding and monitoring new devices and setting restrictions is straightforward. Mobicip is compatible with macOS 10.15 and up.
Mobicip is great for the detailed scheduling of your child’s Mac usage, which you can set in 5-minute increments. The app also provides social media monitoring for Facebook and Instagram. Plus, its web and app filtering enables blocking specific websites and creating custom filters based on keywords. Mobicip is compatible with macOS 10.15 and up and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Kaspersky Safe Kids — Set Flexible Time Limits for Mac Usage
Kaspersky Safe Kids offers a flexible daily time limit tool for Mac, as it allows you to set specific times when your children can’t use their Mac devices. Most top competitors only let you set time limits in set increments, but Kaspersky allows you to set any time limit you want.
I like that you can customize how you monitor your kids’ screen time on Mac. I have the option to receive reports on their device usage, send them warnings if they reach the daily limit, or block access altogether when their time is up. Plus, I can choose specific apps that can bypass the daily time limits.
The web filtering feature is effective, offering options to whitelist, blacklist, or select from over 10 predefined site categories. That being said, Qustodio has 25+ predefined categories. Additionally, it includes a Safe Search feature that blocks inappropriate content on YouTube. Plus, the app allows kids to request access to blocked sites, which proves useful when they need to access specific sites unintentionally blocked by the filters — especially while at school. It also allows you to block apps based on categories, too, such as Gambling and Violence.
Unfortunately, social media monitoring is limited to the Russian site VK. I prefer using Mobicip, as it allows social media monitoring of Facebook and Instagram on Mac.
Its Mac app is user-friendly, and I like how it gives advice to parents with each feature. For example, it gives you advice on how to approach your child if they are spending too much time on their devices. Kaspersky Safe Kids is compatible with macOS 10.11 and higher.
Kaspersky Safe Kids costs $21.99 / year and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You also get a free 1-year subscription to Safe Kids with Kaspersky Premium, which also includes one of the top antivirus programs on the market.
Kaspersky Safe Kids offers flexible daily time limits for Mac, allowing you to set specific usage times. It has great web filtering and allows your kids to request access to blocked sites. Unfortunately, social media monitoring is limited to the Russian platform VK. The Mac app is user-friendly and provides helpful advice for parents. Kaspersky Safe Kids is compatible with macOS 10.11 and higher and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bark — Great Web Filtering for Mac Devices
Bark uses a virtual private network (VPN) to filter websites on your child’s Mac. This VPN directs all internet activity through an encrypted server, which enables access to approved websites while restricting others. You have the option to choose between the default settings or set up 3 distinct rule sets: Free Time, School Hours, and Bedtime. These can be automatically enforced during specific times. Just note that web filtering for macOS works only through Bark’s browser extension for Chrome and Edge, but not Safari.
Its screen time feature allows you to schedule your child’s Mac usage in detail. It uses web and app filtering rules for different times of the day, enabling you to control your child’s access to apps and websites during school hours, bedtime, or free time. I created different schedules for each day, which allowed me to restrict time during school hours and increase screen time on weekends. However, unlike Qustodio, Bark lacks the feature to set strict time limits for specific apps.
Bark also provides a Safe Search feature, which prevents your kids from accessing inappropriate content on their Mac device. In addition, you can turn on Restricted Mode for YouTube, allowing you to block inappropriate content on the app.
Unfortunately, Bark doesn’t have a native app for monitoring macOS. Any account-level monitoring (such as emails and social media) can be monitored regardless of the device your child is using, but to enable web filtering on Mac, you’ll have to use Bark’s browser extension for Chrome or Edge. Additionally, to enforce screen time and disable web access for specific apps on desktop devices, you’ll need to acquire the Bark Home physical device (compatible with devices with macOS 10.11 and up). Keep in mind that Bark Home lacks the ability to monitor devices when your children are away from home.
Unfortunately, Bark offers only 1 plan that’s compatible with monitoring Mac devices: Bark Premium, for $99.00 / year. Bark Premium lets you install the app on as many devices as you want, which is pretty generous, but there’s no money-back guarantee for the plan.
Bark uses a VPN to filter websites on your child’s Mac. Plus, its screen time feature lets you set rules for different periods, and the Safe Search feature and YouTube Restricted Mode block inappropriate content. It lacks a native macOS app, but account-level monitoring works across all devices. To enable web filtering on Mac, you’ll need the Chrome or Edge browser extension. For screen time and app control on desktop devices, you’ll require the Bark Home physical device.
Comparison of the Best Parental Controls for Mac in 2023
|Parental Control App||Starting Price||macOS Compatibility||Web Filtering Works With Safari||Number of Devices||Money-Back Guarantee|
||$54.95 / year||macOS 10.11 and up||✅||5 or Unlimited||30 days|
||$10.99 / month||macOS 10.6 and up||✅||5–10||7 days|
||$2.99 / month||macOS 10.15 and up||❌||5–20||30 days|
||$21.99 / year||macOS 10.11 and up||✅||Unlimited||30 days|
||$5.00 / month||macOS 10.11 and up||✅||Unlimited||❌
(30-day money-back guarantee only for the Bark Home device)
How to Choose the Best Parental Control App for Mac in 2023
- Look for parental controls with industry-standard features.These should include web and app filters to block inappropriate content, screen time and scheduling controls to limit your child’s Mac usage, and activity reports to track online activities. All the apps listed here come with these standard features but Qustodio is my favorite.
- Choose a parental control app that’s compatible with macOS. Not all parental controls are compatible with MacOS. In addition, some might be compatible but won’t offer the same features as they offer for Windows, Android, or iOS. Everything on this list has good compatibility with Mac systems.
- Test the app for good performance. Ensure the app performs well — without causing device slowdowns or excessive battery drain.
- Evaluate if the apps are user-friendly. The parental control app you pick should have an intuitive interface for parents and a kid-friendly app if available. Qustodio has very user-friendly apps.
- Opt for a parental control app that offers good value. Most of the choices on my list provide free plans or trials, affordable pricing, and money-back guarantees.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Norton Family. Comes with parental control features like screen time, scheduling, and web and app filtering. However, it doesn’t work with Mac devices.
- mSpy. A great parental control app for monitoring your child’s devices and social media accounts. However, it isn’t compatible with macOS.
- Eyezy. Offers an excellent social media monitoring feature, but it doesn’t work with Mac devices.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best parental control app for Mac?
The best parental control app for Mac is Qustodio. Its web filtering supports popular browsers for Mac (including Safari and Chrome) and allows you to block unsupported ones. Plus, you can set daily screen time limits and schedule your child’s Mac usage. In addition, it offers app blocking and YouTube monitoring features for Mac. It’s compatible with macOS versions ranging from El Capitan (10.11) to the latest one.
Is there a free app available for monitoring Mac?
Yes, but I don’t recommend it. Parental control apps that are free often have limited features and can be easily bypassed or deactivated by children. Mac also has some built-in parental control features, but their usefulness is very limited. For effective monitoring of your child’s Mac usage, investing in a good parental control app is crucial. My top recommendation is Qustodio, which is compatible with Mac and offers advanced monitoring features.
Why do I need a parental control app for Mac?
Parental control apps for Mac offer a range of features to ensure your child’s online safety. They help you manage screen time, block inappropriate content, monitor internet activities, and safeguard against potential risks like cyberbullying and online predators. Although Mac offers some built-in parental controls, they’re not great. I recommend Qustodio, as it comes with advanced parental control features such as YouTube monitoring.
Can parental control apps be bypassed on Mac by tech-savvy kids?
Reputable parental control apps use strong security measures to prevent bypassing or disabling. Although no system is entirely foolproof, apps like Qustodio and Bark continually update their software to stay ahead of potential workarounds. For example, you can’t use a VPN to bypass Qustodio’s web filtering. In addition, top parental apps often come with an auto-logout feature and uninstall protection to ensure that your child can’t bypass parental control.