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Apple aims to patent portable user accounts

updated 11:35 am EDT, Tue May 20, 2008

Apple user account patent

Apple has been working towards increasing the portability of user data, a newly-published application at the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals. While Mac OS X already supports multiple user accounts, guests on a machine must either create their own account, or rely on someone else's. The proposed Apple scheme would let users carry their user settings from one computer to another on a portable device, much as some USB flash drives attempt to do on Windows PCs. In the same manner, portable accounts could be password-protected.

A difference is that like a backup drive, the Apple device would also carry with it the contents of a user directory, so that key files or just chosen ones are always accessible. The company further proposes that settings and data could be carried on a media player rather than a dedicated drive, likely meaning that the technology is intended for iPods and iPhones. While users can already sync some personal data with Apple handhelds, the company has never had a simple solution for transporting the bulk of it.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Haroscarfel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    or maybe

    a new tablet. i dont typically pass my iphone back and forth. Get your own!

  1. simdude

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I would like something like NIS so if I have a bunch of machines at home (or work) I can sit at any one, type in my username and password, and get the same desktop and files. Back to My Mac is the closest Apple has right now, but remote control is different.

  1. eddd

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Great idea

    I think the plan is for you to carry your User folder on your phone for logging onto other machines (desktops), not for others to log onto your phone.

    This is a great idea, and would greatly help those of us involved in teaching. It's a royal pain for users to have to constantly reset things to their liking on public machines.

  1. frijole

    Joined: Dec 1969


    this exists, on os x

    since 10.3 or 10.4, it was possible to have a "portable home directory", which isn't really where your home itself is portable, but where a network user is cached on (usually) a laptop, and syncs with the server.

    in leopard and leopard server, this was extended to "external homes", where the synchronizing portable home can be on an external drive, anything from a usb stick to a hard drive. when this drive is connected to a machine that authenticates to the same directory server (eg: another lab or office machine), your account pops up in the loginwindow.

    There isn't much about this readily accessible online, but it was a large portion of some talks I attended at last year's WWDC.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    removed from Panther?

    This sounds a lot like "Home on iPod"

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