Is it possible to prevent a user from exiting Front Row?
September 2, 2011 10:04 AM   Subscribe

In Mac OS X, is it possible to prevent the user from exiting Front Row?

The visitor center I work in is setting up a Mac Mini/flatscreen TV combo to allow visitors to watch short videos about our organization in Apple's Front Row kiosk mode. Visitors will use an Apple Remote to scroll through the lists and play videos.

The problem is that visitors can also use the Apple Remote to exit Front Row entirely; this is something we need to prevent. How can we lock our users into Front Row so that they can't access the desktop or other programs? Is there a program, setting, or hack that does this?

Thanks for the help!
posted by cirripede to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Back in the OS 9 days, you could do this by replacing the Finder executable with a copy of the application-which-must-never-be-quit. The same idea might work in OS X.

You could try renaming to and renaming to Perhaps, the OS will try to load Finder and go straight into Front Row. If your users try to exit FrontRow, the OS will again try to load something called and Oh, Snap! we're back in Front Row.

1. You'll want to enable SSH or Remote Desktop or some other means of undoing the damage.
2. This may not even work. I'm not at an OSX machine to try it.

A simpler option may be to replace the Apple Remote with a learning remote. Just don't teach the replacement remote the code for the button that exits Front Row.
posted by chazlarson at 11:26 AM on September 2, 2011

I am pretty confident that the Finder replacement thing no longer works under OSX.

Since I can't find anything online on a kiosk mode for Front Row, I would probably approach this by creating an AppleScript app that could run in the background, and just have your mac launch FrontRow every time it quits. That way if someone DOES try to exit Front Row, they'd just get a glimpse of desktop and get bounced back into Front Row. Unfortunately I'm not really the guy to write this for you, as all of my AppleScript skill revolves around blindly fiddling with and adapting other peoples scripts I find on the internet :-)
posted by raygan at 11:35 AM on September 2, 2011

Also unfortunately, I don't think the learning remote option would be feasible either, as the same "menu" button you use to go back one level in the menu is the one you use to go back from the main menu to the desktop. Disabling it (or not teaching it to the learning remote) would mean you wouldn't be able to navigate back on the menus.
posted by raygan at 11:37 AM on September 2, 2011

You could always create a separate "kiosk" account and lock it down tight with Parental Controls. Even if they exit Front Row, they won't be able to do anything with the computer.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:00 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can tighten the machine down with Parental Controls, and in conjunction use launchd to keep Front Row always running. As soon as it quits you can have launchd reopen the application.

If you are not sure how to use launchd, I'd recommend Lingon, it will write the proper plist for you.

posted by BryanPayne at 12:53 PM on September 2, 2011

The correct approach way is to use launchd to run Front Row on boot and relaunch it when it quits.

More tricky is what to do if they go into the Finder. Perhaps create a special demo account and lock this down with Parental Controls so that it has no privileges except running Front Row and access to a barely functional Finder. Don't know how up to date this is

Also the Apple remote is small and easily damaged/lost/removed, this is the weak point of your proposal I hope you have lots of spares.

If the machine is not physically in a kiosk then be sure to seal up all usb sockets etc to stop things being plugged in and the power switch being operated.
posted by epo at 2:18 PM on September 2, 2011

eCrisper $79

How to configure a mac kiosk part 2 from MacWorld.

as odinsdream suggested, Plainview has a kiosk mode.

But FrontRow wasn't designed to have a kiosk mode. I'd look for an alternative. Good luck.
posted by blob at 8:45 PM on September 2, 2011

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