How to Password Lock Your Desktop with Fast User Log Out in Mac OS X
A quick way to lock your Mac desktop is to hit Shift-Command-Option-Q to do a fast user log out. This logs the current user out of Mac OS X, which is one way to initiate a login screen when the Mac needs to be used again.
Another method is brought to us by inaminit who left the following in our comments: “If you have Fast User Switching enabled through the System Preferences/Accounts, you can just click on Login Window in the drop down menu from the menu bar to do the same thing.”
What inaminit is referring to is the Fast User Switching menu bar item, which is in the upper right corner of OS X if you use the feature. Pulling it down and finding “Login Window” is what immediately logs out and password protects the computer.
The obvious downside to this of course is that it requires fast user switching to be on, and it also closes all the windows, and if the Mac is a single-user workstation then that wouldn’t make much sense to use. For those cases, try using another approach to locking the desktop, like enabling a lock screen and activating it by keyboard strokes or hot corners:
- How to Lock the Mac Screen with a Keystroke
- Lock the Mac Desktop through a Menu bar item
- Lockdown a Mac OS X Workstation with a Screen Saver hot corner
Each method has it’s own strengths and weaknesses depending on the user skill level, read through each of them to determine what fits your needs the best. In all cases though, it is highly recommended to actually do this any time you leave a computer unattended. It’s a very simple and easy security precaution that can help to prevent unwanted access to your machine.