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The best ways to lock your Mac screen

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9 min read

If you think your social media profiles give away too much about your life, imagine the wealth of personal information and important data your Mac contains. By now, every IT security expert in the world recommends that you lock your Mac every time you step away from it. So do yourself a massive favor — learn about MacBook lock screen options, pick the one that works best for you, and kick off your new habit. Remember: Lock Mac. Every time.

How to set up a password to lock the screen 

Locking screen means that you put it in the mode when no one can access your Mac unless they type a password. Password is the key, quite literally. So make sure you use a strong password for Mac login. Typically, you’ll be asked to set up a password when you’re setting up your Mac for the first time, but you can always change it later: 

  1. Open System Preferences > Security & Privacy 
  2. Go to the General tab 
  3. Click Change password and then enter your old and new password. 

password for locking the screen

Secrets will make sure that you never forget your password, no matter how complicated it is — which it should be! This nicely designed password manager for Mac can keep all your passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive data securely hidden on Mac. 

When you’re first installing Secrets, come up with a passphrase that will unlock the app itself. All you have to do is remember this passphrase — all the other passwords will be remembered for you by Secrets. So for example, when you’re setting up a new Mac login password, you can look up the old one in Secrets. The app will keep all your password history. 

secrets password protect

How to lock MacBook 

Truth be told, locking Macs is extremely easy and there are a few ways to do it. But, first of all, it’s important to make sure your Mac is configured to ask for a password every time you turn it on — so it wouldn’t just let anybody in after you lock it. 

Lock Mac with user preferences

Your Mac will ask for a password if automatic login is disabled on your Mac. Here’s how you can disable automatic login:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Preferences
  2. Click on Users & Groups > Login Options
  3. Find a dropdown menu by the Automatic login and make sure it is set to Off. 

    lock mac

How to lock keyboard on Mac

Once you’ve figured out how to lock MacBook, there’s no need to additionally lock your keyboard — when you lock your Mac, both keyboard and display are locked. If, however, you need to have your keyboard locked while keeping the display active — you might consider using an external display or look for specialized apps to perform the task.

How to lock Mac automatically

Lungo lets you set a timer for your Mac, so that it can lock after the time is up. You can use this helpful utility to lock your Mac automatically, as well as to keep it awake as long as needed. Like a shot of espresso! 

lock mac automatically

Also, you can configure the settings to lock Mac automatically when you close the lid or after the screensaver comes up. Simply follow these steps to activate the option:

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Press Security & Privacy > go to the General tab
  3. Check the box next to “Require password”
  4. Choose Immediately from the dropdown menu next to “Require password.”

security privacy

It might also be a good idea to optimize your settings to have screensaver engage quicker or use specialized apps like One Switch to perform the task in a single click.

One Switch is a great time-saving app that gives you access to all the important Mac switches right in your menu bar. It can launch the screensaver in an instant. Besides, with One Switch you also get to:

  • Auto-change your user interface from sunrise to sunset with light and dark modes
  • Instantly clear desktop clutter by hiding all your icons in one click
  • Connect AirPods in one click 
  • Schedule do-not-disturb hours for productivity with all notifications disabled from showing up on your screen. 
one switch

How to lock screen on Mac using hot corners

Hot Corners macOS feature takes little time to set up and, once configured, lets you lock Mac literally with a whiff of your hand. What happens is you designate a specific corner of your screen and every time you drag a cursor there it acts as a “Mac lock screen” command. Obviously, it’s important to choose the corner you don’t normally visit much, otherwise the trick intended to be a lifesaver might quickly become a major annoyance.

When the corner is picked, you’re ready to set the Hot Corners feature on your Mac. Simply follow these instructions to guarantee yourself an instant lock screen on Mac:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click on Desktop & Screen Saver > Screen Saver
  3. Tap the Hot Corners button in the bottom-right corner of the window
  4. This will open a panel with a dropdown menu for each of the corners — click on one of the corners and choose Lock Screen. 
lock mac using hot corners

How to lock Mac screen using shortcut keys

Using a simple combo of keys is the easiest way to instantly lock screen on Mac. What are they? 

Ctrl + ⌘ + Q. Just make sure to press the keys carefully when using this shortcut to lock Mac, so that you don’t hit just + Q by accident. Without the Ctrl key, it will result in shutting down the app you’re working with, which makes it more likely to lose any unsaved work.

Ctrl + Shift + Power. A simple Mac lock screen shortcut to send your display to sleep.

Ctrl + ⌘ + Power. Another good option to consider, which sends your entire Mac to sleep as well but also saves more energy by turning to low-power mode and stopping background tasks.

Did you know you can create your own macros for any action you perform repeatedly, and assign a custom hotkey to it? Keysmith makes it ridiculously easy: 

  1. Open Keysmith and add a new macro (the plus button on the left)
  2. Start recording 
  3. Complete an action (for example, set your Mac to stay awake for the next 10 minutes with the Lungo app) 
  4. Stop recording 
  5. Give a name to your macro and set a hotkey. 

keysmith

Every time you press those keys, your Mac will be set to stay awake for the next 10 minutes. 

How to lock a Mac using the Apple menu

If shortcuts just aren’t your thing and you’re more comfortable using your mouse or trackpad instead, try another easy option. To lock Mac screen from the Apple menu:

  1. Go to the Apple menu at the top left of your screen
  2. In the dropdown menu, choose Lock Screen. 

lock mac using apple menu

Lock your Mac using Terminal 

Command line enthusiast? In this case, you might want to master a Terminal command that locks Mac screen: 

  1. Open Terminal 
  2. Enter the following command: pmset displaysleepnow
  3. Press Return. 

lock mac using terminal

Lock your Mac using the Touch Bar 

If you have a MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar, you can create a dedicated icon that will lock MacBook Pro when tapped. To set up this option:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Preferences
  2. Choose Keyboard
  3. Select Customize Touch Bar in the lower right corner of the window
  4. Drag the Screen Lock button to your Touch Bar using your mouse > Done. 

Tip: If you want to go further with Touch Bar customization, try BetterTouchTool. It can help you put any settings into your Touch Bar. Even if you didn’t enjoy using Touch Bar before, you’ll become a huge fan, pinky promise! 

Or forget about having to memorize the Mac shortcut to lock screen or any other ways to lock Mac described above altogether. If you use Lacona.

Lacona takes fast and efficient to a whole new level: think of this app as a desktop alternative to Siri that is integrated with all the built-in Mac services and is powerful enough to let you run your entire Mac from a minimalistic pop-up window. You type commands in your own words, without having to learn the specific formats, and this intelligent app will:

  • Open apps
  • Create reminders and schedule events
  • Find files
  • Make calls
  • Translate and find meaning of words
  • Do instant calculations
  • Search the web
  • Plus, do an impossible number of other things that involve working with apps on your Mac and using add-ons like IFTTT (if this then that) commands that allow you to link actions in one app with consequent actions in a different app. 

lacona mac

Get a pack of lock screen Mac helper tools 

As you can see, the whole idea of locking up religiously to protect all the personal stuff you keep on your Mac almost by definition calls for actions so simple they could be performed multiple times a day. And all the options for MacBook lock screen described above are just that. Try them and see which one suits you the most.

Best of all, you can grab all the tools we mentioned, such as Lacona, One Switch, Lungo, Keysmith, and BetterTouchTool on Setapp — a platform of more than 240 handpicked Mac and iOS apps capable of easily resolving any digital issue. Setapp is free for 7 days, then $9.99 per month. So, what are you waiting for? Time to do something amazing! Just don’t forget to lock your Mac when you step out for that coffee.

FAQ: How to lock a Mac

How to change MacBook lock screen icon

  1. Open System Preferences > Users & Groups
  2. Choose your account and hover over the account icon 
  3. Click Edit and upload your custom image or choose an emoji/memoji 
  4. Click Save. 

How to turn off auto lock on MacBook?

You can either use Lungo to keep your Mac awake for as long as you like, or go to System Preferences > Battery and move the slider under “Turn display off after” to Never. Note that it will affect your Mac’s battery life, though. 

How to lock MacBook Pro remotely?

If you want to lock MacBook Pro from an iOS device, you can use the Remote Mouse app, available through Setapp. If you want to do the same from another Mac, you can use Apple’s Remote Desktop app, but note that it’s pretty expensive. Alternatively, look into Setapp — it has Screens and Jump Desktop, which are excellent utilities to access your Mac remotely. 

How to lock MacBook from iPhone?

You can fully control your MacBook from iPhone with the Remote Mouse app. This handy tool takes the functionality of your mouse, trackpad, and keyboard to your iPhone, so you can perform any action remotely, including locking your Mac. 

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