Password Protect your Mac

Jan 21, 2011 - 7 Comments

password protect mac There are several steps to password protect a Mac, we’ll cover the essentials so that if someone is to turn on your Mac, wake it from a screensaver, or wake from sleep, they will be required to enter a password in order to use the computer.

Password protect system boot

This will require a password on system boot before anyone can use the Mac

  • Open “System Preferences”
  • Click on “Accounts”
  • Click on “Login Options” in the left corner of the Accounts window
  • You may need to enter the administrator password to make changes here, in that case click on the lock icon in the lower left corner
  • Under Login Options, set “Automatic login” to “Off”
  • Optional security measure: set “Display login window as” to “Name and password” – this will require someone to enter a name and a password into a blank field, providing no hints for usernames
  • Click the lock icon again to prevent any further changes

password protect mac boot

Now anytime your Mac boots, a user login screen will appear before anyone can access the desktop or your files. If you’re into tweaking things, this login screen can be customized rather easily with a unique background, message, and logo.

Now this password protects your Mac on boot, but let’s also password protect your Mac when waking from sleep and waking from a screensaver.

Password protect a Mac screensaver and when waking from sleep

We’ve sort of covered this tip before when showing you how to lock a Mac screen using a keyboard shortcut, so you may already have this enabled:

  • Open System Preferences
  • Click on “Security”
  • Under the “General” tab, select the checkbox next to “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins”
  • Optional security measure: set this to require a password immediately, otherwise set the amount of time you are comfortable with
  • Exit System Preferences

password protect mac screensaver and from sleep wake

Now anytime your Mac activates a screensaver or is put to sleep, you will need to enter a password to gain access to it again. You can also use the keystroke Shift+Control+Eject to activate the password lock screen immediately.

If you’ve somehow managed to forget your Macs password, you can learn how to reset it using a variety of measures.

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Posted by: David Mendez in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Saman says:

    As mentioned at the bottom of the article, since all those passwords may be resetted any time, this is rather some kinda fake security. Usefull when ur leaving your mac for 3 minutes. If data security is mandatory, go use something encryption based.

  2. I don’t know if I’d consider it “fake” security. There are many instances where having a password protected Mac is a good one.

    1 – In an office so people aren’t snooping on your machine after hours
    2 – In your home. I have Parental controls setup on my Mac and each child has different settings. My youngest can just click to login and my older two kids have passwords.

    I will concede though that a very motivated person is going to be able to steal your machine remove the hard drive and read off the contents of it. If you are that concerned about it turn on the File Vault.

  3. Saman says:

    They dont need to remove the hard drive, they only need to reset the password by booting from OSX Install CD.

    Besides, I mentioned that “fake security” might be usefull in environments like office when its not about top secret data, but rather about privacy.

  4. […] this can provide some protection on a per-file or folder basis, it’s always a good idea to password protect the Mac in general with a login requirement on system boot, wake from sleep, and waking from the screen saver. […]

  5. […] this along with general password protection for maximum […]

  6. […] you ever wanted to have your Mac require a password on waking from system sleep, but not ask for a password when the screensaver is on or the screen […]

  7. […] everyone should always password protect a Mac to prevent unauthorized use, not everyone does. Sometimes people share general logins, be it with a […]

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