That’s more common than you may realize but an unattended and unlocked Mac is a magnet for thieves, hackers, unscrupulous employees, and others willing to take advantage of the Mac’s free-for-all status, even if only momentary. Here’s a quick and easy way to lock your Mac instantly when you’re ready to walk away.
Click, Lock, Relax
Actually, locking up your Mac when you step away for whatever reason can be as easy as automatic. Use a security utility or use what’s already built-in to OS X. First, the latter.
Open the Mac’s System Preferences, then select the Security & Privacy tab. This is what you will see in OS X El Capitan under the General tab.
Those options mean you can set a password to open your Mac, and set the time to require the password after the Mac goes to sleep or the screen saver begins. That’s almost automatic, but still requires you to turn on the screen saver, or set the screen saver to come on automatically after x-number of minutes of inactivity.
Is there a better way? Yes, and it comes it two parts. One is free. The other costs a few bucks but is easy to use. The free way is simple. Setup a hot corner for the screen saver and make sure to move the onscreen pointer (or the mouse pointer) to the hot corner to turn on the screen saver and activate the lock.
Or, install Padlock and have more options.
Padlock also locks up your Mac when the screen saver goes on or when you put the Mac’s screen to sleep. Each locking method has a global keyboard shortcut, or requires a simple click to the Padlock icon in the Mac’s Menubar.
The advantage with Padlock is speed and choice. The keyboard shortcut works instantly. The click to the Menubar icon works quickly, too, and gives you the same options to lock the Mac’s screen with the screen saver or lock the screen by putting the Mac’s screen to sleep.
The built-in security dashboard is handy and Padlock monitors your Mac’s security settings so you can see exactly what the current status is and walk through the steps for a fix.
Padlock costs a few bucks and is worth it but still requires manual intervention. You have to remember to turn on the screen saver, turn off the Mac’s screen, or invoke the Padlock settings when you step away. Setting the screen saver to lock after it starts up helps, and it’s automatic, but it may also provide a window for someone to drop in on your Mac while you step away.
If you’re an iPhone user you might appreciate the automatic access provided in MacID, another inexpensive utility that uses Bluetooth on your Mac and iPhone to setup proximity security. Step away from your Mac and it locks up automatically. Sit down in front of your Mac and it unlocks automatically.
Obviously, automatically locking and unlocking the Mac during your absence or presence is preferred and MacID excels at both, but there’s a price tag for both the Mac and iPhone versions, and setup and configuration takes more effort.