Mac convert tip #4: Locking your Mac

I went to university with a mischievous group of friends. You were asking for trouble if you left your computer unattended and unlocked. Someone was guaranteed to have reconfigured your system to cause the chaos possible. Some classics included:

  • setting the volume controls to maximum (often accompanied by adding embarrassingly inappropriate sounds to system events);
  • setting the mouse double-click speed to maximum making it impossible to open applications; or
  • setting the mouse acceleration to warp speed on one axis and a snail’s pace on the other — try accurately positioning your pointer with that setup.
Padlock on green door

Photo Credit: dzarro72 via Compfight cc

I quickly learnt to always lock my workstation — a habit that endures to this day. These mischievous stunts are no longer an issue, but locking the workstation is still good practice for protecting potentially sensitive information and keeping my kids’ adventurous little fingers from causing trouble.

On Windows, Win + L instantly locks your account. The Mac requires more initial configuration, but once done, locking up is just as quick. Since this is something I do many times each day, a keyboard shortcut is the only way to go.

Initial setup

You only need to carry out these steps once unless you want to make changes later. I’m assuming you have already set a password for your account.

1. Require a password after sleep

  1. From the Apple () menu, select System Preferences…
  2. Select Security & Privacy and select the General settings.
  3. Enable Require a password after sleep or screen saver begins. You can also choose whether you want this to happen immediately or after a short delay.
Mac Security & Privacy settings

Security & Privacy settings

2. Set a message for your lock screen (optional)

Setting a message on the lock screen is advisable if your Mac is ever misplaced. It provides a simple way for whoever finds your Mac to locate your contact details.

  1. Enable Show a message when the screen is locked.
  2. Click Set Lock Message…
  3. Enter a message. Mine is shown below.
Lock screen message

Lock screen message

3. Sleep after inactivity

You’ll need to set your Mac to automatically sleep after a period of inactivity. This is a safety measure if you walk away and forget to lock your Mac first.

  1. Click Show All to return to the System Preferences.
  2. Click Energy Saver.
  3. Set the Turn display off after slider to a suitable value. I use 2 minutes for battery and 5 minutes for the power adapter.
Mac energy saver settings

Energy Saver settings

Locking your Mac

With the configuration now done, all you need to do is to activate the screen saver or enter sleep. Your password is required when your Mac wakes.

  1. Press Control + Shift + Eject (⏏) to put the display to sleep without any warning messages. On a MacBook Air, substitute the power key for the eject key.

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All tips: How to switch from Windows to Mac without the frustration

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  1. April 8, 2014

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