Many reviewers agree that Safe Eyes, owned by the security software giant McAfee, is a top program, especially for Mac users. In addition to offering customizable settings for up to 10 users, Safe Eyes works on Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads (mobile coverage costs about $15 more). While it's a great option for Mac users, who don't have as many choices as PC owners, it lacks some of the bells and whistles offered for Windows.
Uninstalling is a challenge -- for good reason. Safe Eyes web-based software is easy to install and set up regardless of which operating system you're using. Uninstalling the software is a more labor-intensive, multi-step process, but that's intentional; kids could just delete the program if it were simple to remove. As with most parental control programs, Safe Eyes is web-based and can be set up and managed online. (iPhones and iPads are covered by a mobile app that must be purchased separately, but your account will sync with your devices.)
You'll have the option to block websites for each user: You can prohibit access to specific sites and also let the program block sites from as many as 35 categories (porn, violence, etc.). The settings also let you control how much time your kid spends online. You can block email and block or monitor instant messaging conversations. (The monitoring is only available on PCs.) Preferences can be set upon installation, and can be changed at any time. The cost is for a one-year subscription, and McAfee does not publish Safe Eyes' renewal prices.
Customized blocking and real-time alerts. Expert sources say Safe Eyes is among the better parental control programs available and the best choice for Mac users. You can create as many as 10 customized user profiles, though these do not link with Windows user profiles. Other features include solid remote monitoring and very effective (though sluggish) web filtering. Parental-controlled remote changes are made immediately, so if your child needs to visit a mistakenly blocked website or needs more time online, you can grant that access even if you're not home. It's also a good choice if you need to block content on more than one computer (the license allows you to install it on three computers at the same time), especially because Safe Eyes works well on PCs and Macs.
Program blocking is one of Safe Eyes' weaknesses, so if you need to restrict access to hard drive content as well as websites, consider using Net Nanny (Est. $40) on Windows PCs or the parental controls baked into OS X operating systems, which include program-blocking capabilities. The clean interface also receives praise, and parents can opt to receive real-time alerts via email, text message or phone. The features unfortunately aren't as robust for Mac users: Parents can block instant messaging programs or social networks (including Facebook), for example, but can't view chat logs or receive alerts about sensitive posts on social media, as they can with PCs. Parents of Mac users also will receive instant notifications of attempts to access banned sites and can access reports online but won't receive activity summaries via email.
Not as tough as some. Safe Eyes does fairly well in professional reviews. In addition to filtering searches and blocking websites, Safe Eyes also blocks videos (though not inappropriate iTunes downloads) and more challenging HTTPS sites. Many consumers say the app (which hasn't been updated since 2010) is a disappointment -- it slowed down mobile devices or simply proved ineffective at blocking critical sites, like porn. TopTenReviews.com gives it 9.75 out of 10 for effectively filtering web, video and instant messaging and for blocking online game play and songs on iTunes, but it's unclear whether this is based on direct tests. PCMag.com gives Safe Eyes a strong review but notes that its program has some vulnerabilities. PCMag.com deems Net Nanny "tougher."
Neil Rubenking evaluates Safe Eyes as part of a roundup of parental control software. He says the program is "the best choice for families using both Macs and PCs." Web blocking and parental notification are strengths. Safe Eyes' vulnerability to certain hacks and its weak program blocking keep it from scoring higher.
Review: Safe Eyes 6.0, Neil J. Rubenking, Feb. 22, 2010
Safe Eyes ranks second, just behind Net Nanny in a roundup of parental control software. The program gets a high rating in the full review, which rates feature sets, installation and other categories separately. It's not clear how much hands-on testing was conducted.
Review: McAfee Safe Eyes 6, Editors of TopTenReviews.com
A site for web designers and developers, Honkiat.com, rounds up 10 parent control "tools" for Mac users. Editors say that Safe Eyes is "a good parental control tool for families with more than one child" because of its licensing policy covering three PCs or Macs and ability to manage up to 10 profiles.
Review: 10 Parental Control Apps for Mac, Editors of Honkiat.com, Undated
4. Laptop Magazine
Laptop magazine doesn't seem to directly test Safe Eyes but provides a detailed account of its features and functionality. It rates the program 4 out of 5 stars.
Review: McAfee Safe Eyes 6 Review, Editors of Laptop magazine, Feb. 29, 2012
Customers aren't thrilled by Safe Eyes' mobile app with more than 200 giving the current version 2.5 out of 5 stars. While some say it works well, others complain that it's unreliable, crashes and doesn't block questionable sites.
Review: Safe Eyes Mobile, Contributors to iTunes, As of April 2013