Lock a Mac Screen
Any time that you are away from your computer, it’s a good idea to lock the screen. This provides a level of privacy and security to the Mac that is very easy to use and implement and it should be considered a must-use trick, particularly for anyone working in public spaces, offices, schools, or anywhere else that there is potential of an outside party accessing the computer.
Lock your Mac Screen
The absolute fastest and easiest way to lock the screen in Mac OS X is with a simple keyboard shortcut:
- Control+Shift+Eject is the keystroke for Macs with an Eject key
- Control+Shift+Power is the keystroke for Macs without the eject key, like the MacBook Air
Hit the appropriate key combination for your Mac model and the Macs screen will instantly go dark. This will also be the key command to lock the Mac screen, requiring a user to enter a password before the computer can be accessed again, looking like this:
But first, you must enable that locking setting. If you don’t have that feature enabled yet, here’s how to set this up on any Mac:
Enable the Lock Screen in Mac OS X
This will cause the above keyboard shortcuts to lock the screen with a password:
- Launch System Preferences
- Click on “Security & Privacy” and look under the “General” tab
- Click the checkbox next to “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins” – select either immediately or 5 seconds as the time interval
- Exit out of System Preferences
You can easily confirm the setting is now functioning by hitting the aforementioned keystroke for your Mac model, which will make the screen go black instantaneously. If you chose the immediate option in Security preferences, then you will need to enter the user password before being able to use the Mac again, the option to wait 5 seconds gives you a few seconds of allowance before requiring the password, which may be more desirable in some situations. You’ll probably have noticed that other choices are available in the timing, but realistically anything higher than a minute starts to lose it’s security benefits, thus the shorter times are most desirable for optimal privacy.
The Mac OS X lock screen is the same as what you see when you wake a Mac from sleep or a screensaver when this feature is enabled, so remember that if you use a screensaver that auto-activates or sleep your Mac regularly, you’ll also be entering your password.
This feature is supported on just about every version of OS X and is highly recommended to enable on any Mac in offices, schools, public places, and any other environment where you may have sensitive data on your machine that you want to keep from prying eyes. Another very worthwhile endeavor is to add a login message to OS X, this can include things like identifying information of the Mac, or better yet, ownership details like a name, email address, or phone number.
If you happen to forget your Mac password, you can reset it through a few different methods.