Apple patent describes portable user accounts

United States Patent 7,246,226, filed on August 29, 2006 and published today, July 17, 2007, and assigned to Apple Inc. decribes a “method and apparatus rendering user accounts portable.”

The Patent Application’s Abstract reads:
Improved approaches for enabling user accounts to be portable across different multi-user computer systems are disclosed. A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, thereby rendering the user account portable. The multi-user computer system, e.g., through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system. Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user configuration and user directory. Since the data store that stores the user account is not only external but also portable, a user can simply tote the data store to the location of different multi-user computers. In one embodiment, the external, portable data store can not only store the user account but can also provide general data storage. In another embodiment, the external, portable data store can be a portion of a portable computing device (e.g., media player) that provides other functionality besides data storage.

Much more here.


  1. Amigo software did something a bit similar ob the PC but it never really took off. I love to see Apple implement a portable account system soon that allow travel of our home directory in an iShuffle

  2. All within the road map… The iPod/iPhone/iHome has been destined to be our key/hub/home. We can transport our identities with us and plug in anywhere… great for work, home and traveling.

    IMHO Steve has had this in mind all along.


    MDN Magic Word: public (as in, public folder)

  3. “…This could be one of those Leopard secret features.”


    Um, there are no more “secret” Leopard features.. All has been revealed and Leopard has been distributed to developers for a month already.

  4. Seriously – it’s been done and is not a revolutionary concept – but if they don’t file a preemptive patent and then defend it, someone else will.

    This is not the way things should be – but that’s the way they are. Sad.

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