How to Configure Parental Controls in Google Chrome

Create supervised user profiles to restrict browsing behavior

Child using laptop
Carlo Amoruso/Getty Images

Nowadays young children are browsing earlier than ever, accessing the web on a wide range of devices including their phones, tablets, gaming systems and traditional computers. With this online freedom comes inherent dangers, as many websites offer content that is far from kid-friendly. Since it's next to impossible to separate little ones from their devices and because keeping an eye on them every minute of the day is simply unrealistic, filters and other applications exist to block questionable sites and other inappropriate images, videos, verbiage and apps.

One of these filter-based services can be found within Google’s Chrome web browser in the form of its parental controls. The concept of parental controls in the Chrome browser, or the Chrome operating system itself on a Chromebook device, revolves around supervised user profiles. If a child is forced to browse the web while signed in under one of these restricted profiles, their parent or guardian has the final say regarding where they go and what they do while online. Not only does Chrome allow you to block specific websites, it also creates a report of which sites they actually did visit during their browsing session. As an added level of security, supervised users are unable to install web apps or browser extensions. Even their Google search results are filtered for explicit content via the SafeSearch feature.

Setting up a supervised Chrome profile is a fairly easy process if you know what steps to take, which we walk you through below.

In order to follow these directions, however, you first need to have your own Google account. If you do not have an account, create one for free by following our step-by-step tutorial.

Create a Supervised Chrome Profile (Linux, macOS and Windows)

  1. Open your Chrome browser.
  2. Click on the main menu button, located in the upper right-hand corner and represented by three vertically-aligned dots.
  1. When the drop-down menu appears, select Settings. You can also access Chrome’s settings by typing the following syntax into the browser’s address/search bar, also known as the Omnibox, and hitting the Enter key: chrome://settings
  2. Chrome’s Settings interface should now be displayed in a new tab. If you are already signed in, a notification will appear towards the top of the page showing which account is currently active. If you are not yet authenticated click on the Sign in to Chrome button, located towards the top of the page, and follow the on-screen prompts asking for your email address and password.
  3. Scroll down, if necessary, until you locate the section labeled People.
  4. Click Add person.
  5. Chrome’s Add person interface should now be visible, overlaying your main browser window. First choose a picture and enter a name for your new supervised user profile. If you would like to add an icon on your desktop that will launch Chrome with this new profile loaded, leave the check mark next to the Create a desktop shortcut for this user setting. If you do not want this shortcut created, remove the check mark by clicking on it once.
  6. Directly below this shortcut setting is another option accompanied by a check box, this one enabled by default and labeled Control and view the websites this person visits from [Active user’s email address]. Click on this empty box to place a check in it and to designate this new account as supervised.
  1. Click Add. A progress wheel will now appear next to the button while the account is created. This usually takes between 15 and 30 seconds to complete.
  2. A new window should now appear, confirming that your supervised user profile has been successfully created and displaying further instructions. You should also receive an email containing pertinent details about your new user and how to manage the profile’s settings accordingly.
  3. Click OK, got it to return to the main Chrome window.

Create a Supervised Chrome Profile (Chrome OS)

  1. Once signed in to your Chromebook, click on your account photo (located in the lower right-hand corner of the screen).
  1. When the pop-out window appears, select the gear-shaped icon (Settings).
  2. Chrome OS's Settings interface should now be displayed, overlaying your desktop. Scroll down until the section labeled People is visible and click Manage other users.
  3. The Users interface should now be visible. Place a check mark next to the Enable supervised users setting, if one is not already there, by clicking on it once. Select Done to return to the previous screen.
  4. Click on your account photo again. When the pop-out window appears, select Sign out.
  5. You should now be returned to your Chromebook's login screen. Click More, located at the bottom of the screen and represented by three vertically-aligned dots.
  6. When the pop-out menu appears, select Add supervised user.
  7. An introduction to supervised users will now be displayed. Click Create supervised user.
  8. You will now be prompted to choose the managing account for your new supervised user profile. Select the desired account from the list and enter its corresponding password. Click Next to continue.
  9. Enter a name and password for your supervised user. Next, choose an existing image to associate with their profile or upload one of your own. Once satisfied with your settings, click Next.
  10. Your supervised user profile will now be created. This process can take some time, so be patient. If successful, you will see a confirmation page and also receive an email with further details about your new user profile. Click Got it! to return to the Chrome OS login screen.

Configuring Your Supervised Account Settings

Now that you’ve created a supervised account, it’s important that you know how to set it up correctly.

By following the steps below, you can block specific websites and control Google’s search results.

  1. To get started, navigate to the following URL in your Chrome browser: www.chrome.com/manage
  2. The Supervised Users interface should now be displayed, listing each supervised profile currently associated with your account. Select the profile that you would like to configure.
  3. A dashboard for the account selected will now appear. Click Manage or Manage User.
  4. Several modifiable permissions for the selected profile should now be visible. By default, no websites are blocked in this user’s profile. This essentially defeats the purpose of having a supervised user and therefore needs to be modified. Click on the pencil icon, located to the far right-hand side of the Manage user section heading.
  5. The subsequent screen provides the ability to control which sites the user can access. There are two ways to configure this setting, one by allowing all sites except those that you explicitly choose to block and the other by blocking all sites except those that you specifically choose to allow. The second option is my personal favorite, as it is much more restrictive. To permit the supervised user to access any website that you haven’t added to its blacklist, choose the All of the web option from the drop-down menu provided. To only permit access to those sites that you have added to the profile’s whitelist, select Only approved sites.
  6. To add a URL to the Approved sites or Blocked Sites list, first click Add a site if necessary.
  1. Next, enter the site’s address in the Blocked site or Approved site field. You also have the ability to allow or block entire domains (i.e., all pages on Lifewire.com), subdomains or individual web pages by choosing one of three options from the Behavior drop-down menu. Once you are satisfied with these settings, click OK to return to the previous screen. You should continue this process until all desired sites have been added.
  2. Click on the left bracket icon, located in the upper left-hand corner of the page next to the Google Chrome logo, to return to the main permissions screen. If you see a Manage permissions pop-out window instead, click on the ‘x’ in the upper right-hand corner to close this window.
  3. The next setting in the Manage user section controls the aforementioned SafeSearch feature, which stifles the display of inappropriate content in Google’s search results. SafeSearch is locked by default, which means that it is activated. If you need to disable it for some reason, click on the Unlock SafeSearch link. Be warned that all explicit material will be allowed to appear in Google search results while SafeSearch is unlocked.
  4. Directly below the Manage user section is a setting labeled Notifications are off, which controls whether or not you are notified each time your supervised user requests access to a blocked site. These notifications are disabled by default, and can be enabled by clicking on the accompanying Turn on link.
  5. If you would like to completely remove this supervised profile from your Chrome account, select the Delete supervised user link found at the bottom of the permissions page.

Managing and Monitoring Your Supervised Account

Once your supervised profile is configured, you’ll want to manage it on an ongoing basis as well as monitor the user’s behavior from time to time. Follow the steps below to accomplish both of these tasks.

  1. Return to the supervised user dashboard via the following URL: www.chrome.com/manage
  2. Select the name of the supervised user profile that you wish to manage or monitor.
  3. Locate the Requests section, positioned in the middle of the dashboard interface. If your supervised user tries accessing a blocked site and is denied, they then have the option to submit an access request. These requests will appear in this section of the dashboard, where you can choose to approve or deny them on a site-by-site basis.
  4. Below the list of access requests is the Activity section, where the supervised user’s browsing activity appears. From here you can monitor exactly what web pages they have visited and when.

Utilizing Your Supervised Account (Linux, macOS and Windows)

To switch to your supervised user profile and activate it in the current browsing session, you can double-click on the custom desktop shortcut if you had chosen to create it during the setup process. If not, take the following steps.

  1. Open your Chrome browser and sign out/disconnect through the Settings interface, if you are currently logged in with your Google account.
  2. Click on the Chrome user button, located in the far upper right-hand corner of your browser window to the left of the minimize button. A drop-down window should appear, displaying several user-related options.
  3. Select the name of the desired supervised user profile from the list provided.
  4. A new browser window should now appear, displaying the name of the supervised profile in the upper right-hand corner along with the word Supervised. All browsing activity within this window will be subject to the rules that you previously configured for this particular supervised user.

Utilizing Your Supervised Account (Chrome OS)

Sign out, if necessary, to return to your Chromebook's login screen. Select the image associated with your new profile, type in the password and hit the Enter key. You are now logged in as a supervised user, and are subject to all restrictions that have been assigned to this profile.

Locking Your Supervised Profile

This does not apply to Chromebook users.

Depending on your particular settings and whether or not you have disconnected your Google account from the browser, an unsupervised user could potentially switch to a supervised account (including your own) if they knew what they were doing. Don’t fret, however, as there is a way to lock your supervised profile and avoid any sneaky workarounds. You must be logged in to access Chrome’s Childlock feature.

To enable this childlock, first click on the button displaying your account name; located in the far upper right-hand corner of the Chrome window. When the drop-down menu appears, select the Exit and childlock option. Your unsupervised user would now need to know your password in order to switch to your account.