How to lock your mac when you’re away

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Mac users have long been able to use various tricks to lock the screen of their computers, but with macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave (and anything from High Sierra 10.13.x onward), a simpler and faster option is now available on the Mac with an official Lock Screen feature.

With the new Lock Screen feature, you can instantly lock down a Mac through a system-wide menu option, or with a keyboard shortcut. Once Lock Screen has been enabled, a proper user login and password must be entered before the Mac can be accessed again. This is an excellent privacy and security feature, and one that Mac users should familiarize themselves with if they frequently use their computers in a public setting, be it at work, school, home, or anywhere else they may want to password protect their computer to prevent unwanted access.

Note this specific Lock Screen feature is only available in the latest versions of Mac OS, including macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, or High Sierra 10.13.x or later. If you’re on an earlier version of Mac OS system software, you’ll need to rely on other methods to initiate the lock screen on a Mac as described here, or if you have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar you can set a dedicated screen lock button.

How to Use Lock Screen in MacOS via Menu

You can enable the Lock Screen on Mac OS from anywhere via the Apple menu:

  1. Pull down the  Apple menu from any application
  2. Choose “Lock Screen” to instantly lock the Mac screen and bring up the login window

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Locking the screen is instantaneous, and the Mac will require a password to login and regain access.

The Lock Screen feature does not log out of the user account, or quit any applications, it also won’t start a screen saver right away, it only locks the screen by bringing up a familiar login window thereby requiring the user name and user password to regain entry to the Mac.

Another option to enable the Lock Screen feature on the Mac is to use the keyboard shortcut…

How to Enable Lock Screen in MacOS via Keyboard Shortcut

The default keyboard shortcut for the new MacOS Lock Screen option is Command + Control + Q, you can hit the keystroke at any time to lock down the Mac:

  • Hit Command + Control + Q to activate Lock Screen on the Mac

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Once you hit the command sequence on the keyboard, the Mac screen will instantly lock out, thereby requiring a login to regain access.

For many users, using the keyboard shortcut for Lock Screen will be faster than the menu option, and it’s likely that the keystroke approach is the fastest way to initiate a screen lock procedure on any Mac.

Note that you can change the Lock Screen keyboard shortcut if you’re unhappy with Control + Command + Q for whatever reason by going to the Keyboard system preferences. If you find yourself accidentally quitting apps instead of locking the screen, you may wish to do that. Just be sure your new keystroke doesn’t conflict with anything else.

To reiterate, these dedicated Lock Screen keyboard shortcut and menu options are only available to the latest versions of macOS system software (10.13+), but that does not mean that users of prior Mac OS software releases are left in the dark or without similar options to quickly activate a password screen to lock down a Mac. In fact, all versions of Mac OS can enable a lock screen associated with the Mac Screen Saver feature as described here that can be activated by keystroke or by a mouse corner. Another option is to use an optional Screen Lock button on the Touch Bar of MacBook Pro if you have one of those Macs.

The primary difference between the new Lock Screen option in modern macOS releases versus the older lock screen trick available in earlier Mac OS releases is that the new variation is officially recognized as “Lock Screen” whereas earlier versions of Mac OS would indirectly go about enabling a lock screen by activating the screen saver with password protection. The end result is basically the same however, though the new variation won’t immediately enable a screen saver, whereas the screen saver based approach always immediately does.

By the way, if you’re using the Lock Screen feature for security and privacy reasons (and you should be if your Mac gets used in any work place, public location, school, or even many home environments) then you’ll also want to be certain you enable FileVault disk encryption on the Mac so that all data on the hard drive is encrypted, further protecting your personal data from prying eyes or potential privacy incursions.

Do you have any other handy tricks relating to the Lock Screen feature on the Mac? Share them with us in the comments below.

Before we start

Having spent some years coding applications for macOS we’ve created a tool that everybody can use. The all-round problem fixer for Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

So here’s a tip for you: Download CleanMyMac to quickly solve some of the issues mentioned in this article. But to help you do it all by yourself, we’ve gathered our best ideas and solutions below.

Features described in this article refer to the MacPaw site version of CleanMyMac X.

There are a number of different ways to lock or sleep your screen in macOS. Before we show them to you, however, it’s important to make the distinction between locking your screen and just putting it to sleep.

If you lock your Mac you’ll put it to sleep and need to type in your login password on your Mac’s lock screen (or unlock it with TouchID on a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, or with an Apple Watch). If you put it to sleep, you won’t necessarily lock it. In order to lock your screen, you need to set up the password in System Preferences. Here’s how to do that.

How to set up a password to lock the screen

  1. Launch System Preferences either by clicking on its icon in the Dock or by choosing it from the Apple menu.
  2. Click on the Security & Privacy pane.
  3. Choose the General tab and check the option that starts ‘Require password…’
  4. Choose an option from the dropdown menu.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Now, whenever your Mac goes to sleep or a screensaver starts, it will lock and you’ll have to authenticate with your user password, Apple Watch or TouchID to gain access.

Worried about your Mac’s security in public places? Get Beepify, a Setapp app that protects your Mac from theft.

How to lock your Mac

If you have a MacBook, a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro, the quickest and easiest way to lock your Mac is just to shut the lid. When you do that, the Mac goes to sleep and when you open it again you’ll need to unlock it.

However, there are occasions when you’ll want to prevent anyone from seeing the screen without actually closing it. And, in any case, if you have an iMac, Mac mini or Mac Pro, it’s not an option. Here are some other ways you can lock your Mac’s display.

1. Use Apple menu

Go to the Apple menu and choose Sleep. This will display the login screen for your account and won’t unlock with a password (unless you’re wearing an Apple Watch when you do it and then it will lock and unlock immediately)

Tip: If you want your Mac to remain locked even when you’re close by and you have an Apple Watch, go to System Preferences>Security & Privacy>General and uncheck the Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac option.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

2. Use shortcuts

If you’re using a Mac that’s running macOS Catalina, go to the Apple menu and choose Lock Screen or press Command+Control+Q. This will lock your Mac and return you to the Login screen.

For older versions of the operating system, press Control+Shift+Power button (or Control+Shift+Eject if your Mac has an optical drive). It will lock the screen.

You can also use a keyboard shortcut to put your Mac to sleep. Press Command+Option+Power (or Eject). This works in a similar way to the previous one, but rather than just lock your Mac it powers down the hard drive, puts the CPU into low power mode and stops background tasks in order to save energy.

3. Set up a hot corner

Hot corners allow you to drag to the mouse pointer to one of the four corners of the screen to initiate an action – you can use one as a sleep shortcut on your Mac. To set it up:

  1. Launch System Preferences.
  2. Choose the Desktop & Screen Saver pane.
  3. Click the Hot Corners button at the bottom right of the window.
  4. In the drop down window, choose a corner.
  5. Click on the menu and choose either Start Screen Saver or Put Display to Sleep.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

4. Use fast user switching

Fast user switching allows you to quickly log into another user account on your Mac. But you can also use it to return to the log in window, which locks your Mac. Got to System Preferences>Users & Groups and click the padlock, then type in your password. Click Login Options and check the box next to ‘Show fast user switch menu as.’ You can also choose whether to show the menu as your full name, the account name or an icon.

To lock your Mac, click the fast user switching menu at the right of the menu bar and choose Login Window…

How to lock your mac when you’re away

5. Add Keychain Access to the menu bar

This option was removed in macOS Mojave but works on versions before High Sierra:

  1. Go to Finder.
  2. Choose Applications > Utilities.
  3. Launch Keychain Access.
  4. Click in the Keychain Access menu and select Preferences.
  5. Check the box next to Show keychain status in menu bar.
  6. You’ll see a lock in the Finder menu bar. Click it and choose Lock Screen to lock your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Other ways to protect your privacy

First of all, fet a Finder-like Terminal for Mac that will help you completely control the login settings. It’s called MacPilot. The app covers over 1,200 hidden macOS features. For privacy, you can go into the Login tab and customize access by users, enable the option of automatic screen locking, and edit launch items.

If you’re looking for physical protection of your Mac, Beepify is the app you need. Whenever you have to step away from the computer in a public place, activate Beepify and it will be set to produce a loud sound in case someone tries to close the screen or disconnect charger.

One of the main reasons for locking your Mac when you step away from it is to stop prying eyes accessing your files, browser history, or anything else you don’t want them to see. CleanMyMac X has a tool that gives you even more privacy protection.

CleanMyMac’s Privacy tool allows you to quickly delete your browser history in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. But it also allows you to delete message threads and attachments in Messages, and to remove entries from macOS’ recent files lists.

Also, CleanMyMac’s Shredder is a quick and easy way to securely delete sensitive data. You can download CleanMyMac for free and give it a try.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

As you can see, putting your Mac to sleep or locking it is very easy. There are lots of different ways to do it, although some are dependent on the version of macOS you’re using. If you regularly lock your Mac to prevent others accessing it, you should ensure your login password is strong and secure.

Finally, if privacy is important, CleanMyMac has a couple of tools that can help delete sensitive data.


How to Lock Your Mac Screen and Protect It from Prying Eyes

Posted on November 8th, 2017 by Kirk McElhearn

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Whether you’re at home or at work, you might not want other people snooping on your Mac when you step away. Leaving your Mac unlocked and unattended allows others nearby to read your emails, text messages, browser history, and all your files. You may be researching gifts for your family, or you may be working on a project in your office that is for your eyes only. In any of these cases, when you step away from your Mac — whether for a meeting or to go make a cup of coffee — it’s a good idea to lock your Mac screen.

You don’t need to shut down your Mac, you don’t even need to log out. There are several ways you can quickly lock your screen and protect your Mac from prying eyes, so no one can access your data without entering your password. It only takes a second, and a keypress or a swipe of your mouse, so it’s worth learning how to do this.

Method 1: Require Password Immediately

By default, your Mac’s display goes dark after a few minutes of inactivity. This time is set in the Energy Saver pane of System Preferences. When this happens, if you press a key on your keyboard, move your mouse, or tap your trackpad, the screen brightens again. But if you make a small change to a security setting, no one can access your Mac after waking up the display without entering your password.

Go to System Preferences > Security and Privacy. Click the General tab, then check Require Password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins. (You may need to select “immediately” in the menu.) This setting applies when the Mac goes to sleep, when a screen saver starts, and when the screen itself turns off.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Method 2: Keyboard Shortcuts

There are several keyboard shortcuts that can shut off your display or put your Mac to sleep.

  • If you press Control-Shift-Eject, the screen goes black. Now that you’ve adjusted the setting to require a password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins, waking it up brings up a password request, just like when you log in.
  • Command-Option-Eject puts your Mac to sleep. Pressing a key on the keyboard, moving the mouse, or tapping or pressing the trackpad wakes it up, and presents the same password request.

The difference between these two operations is that the first allows your Mac to continue running even when the screen is black. You may be downloading files, or you may have an app recording something; in either case, your Mac won’t stop these actions. If you put it to sleep, however, everything stops.

Method 3: Screen Saver

There are other ways you can protect your Mac from prying eyes, too. One of the safest is to use a screen saver. Since you’ve turned on the password request setting in the Security & Privacy settings, any time a screen saver becomes active, you’ll need a password to get past it. It’s a good idea to use a screen saver, since it will automatically activate after a few minutes, protecting your Mac if you’ve forgotten to lock it.

You can choose any screen saver in the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane. I use the Message screen saver, which displays an Apple logo and a message on a black background. If you click Screen Saver Options, you can set the message; I just typed a blank space there, so I see nothing other than the Apple logo, but you can add any message you want. I’ve set mine to start after 10 minutes, because I’m often working on something in front of my computer without necessarily typing or moving the cursor, and I’ve found that sometimes the screen saver would trigger when I don’t want it to if it’s set to just 5 minutes. Try with different times to see what works without being annoying.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Method 4: Hot Corners

The easiest way I’ve found to lock a Mac screen is by using a hot corner in conjunction with the screen saver. Hot corners trigger actions when you move your cursor to one of the four corners of the display. As you can see above, the Hot Corners button is at the bottom right of the preference pane. Click that to see hot corner options.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

I’ve set the top left corner of my screen to Put Display to Sleep. This means that when I move my cursor to that corner, the display goes dark. So I can lock the screen with a quick swipe, and don’t even need to use the keyboard.

No matter which method you choose, it’s a good idea to think of locking your screen when you’re away from your Mac. Even if you’re alone, you should get into the habit of doing this so it becomes a reflex.

For even more ways to protect your Mac and improve your security and privacy, check out these 15 Mac-hardening security tips from Intego to keep you safe from prying eyes.

About Kirk McElhearn

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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 to lock your Mac every time you step away from it in public (and why not in private too). So you can do yourself a massive favor — learn about MacBook lockscreen options, pick the one that works best for you, and kick off your new habit. Remember: Lock Mac. Every time.

How To Lock Mac With User Preferences

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.

To disable automatic logins:

Go to the Apple menu ➙ System Preferences

Click on Users & Groups ➙ Login Options

Find a dropdown menu by the Automatic login and make sure it is set to Off

How to lock your mac when you’re away

How to lock Mac screen using shortcut keys

To use 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.

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:

Go to the Apple menu at the top left of your screen

In the dropdown menu, choose Lock Screen. Boom!

How to lock your mac when you’re away

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

Go to the Apple menu once again ➙ select System Preferences

Select Customize Touch Bar in the lower right corner of the window

Drag the Screen Lock button to your touch bar using your mouse ➙ Done

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:

Launch System Preferences

Click on Desktop & Screen Saver ➙ Screen Saver

Tap the Hot Corners button in the bottom-right corner of the window

This will open a panel with a dropdown menu for each of the corners — click on one by the corner you have decided to designate ➙ choose Lock Screen

How to lock your mac when you’re away

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 external display or look for specialized apps to perform the task.

How to lock Mac automatically

In addition to instances when you lock screen on Mac to step away, it’s also possible to 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:

Go to System Preferences

Press Security & Privacy ➙ choose the General tab

Check the box next to “Require password”

Choose Immediately from the dropdown menu next to “Require password”

How to lock your mac when you’re away

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 as well as prevent your Mac from going into sleep for as long as you need it. 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 too instead of five when you go through System Preferences

Schedule do-not-disturb hours for productivity with all notifications disabled from showing up on your screen

How to lock your mac when you’re away

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:

Create reminders and schedule events

Translate and find meaning of words

Do instant calculations

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

How to lock your mac when you’re away

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 all and see which one suits you the most.

Best of all, you can check out all the great features of One Switch and Lacona mentioned above for free on a seven-day trial with Setapp — a platform of more than 150 handpicked powerful Mac apps and tools capable to easily resolve any digital issue and boost your productivity on Mac tremendously. 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.

Find My includes Activation Lock—a feature that’s designed to prevent anyone else from using your Mac if it’s ever lost or stolen. Activation Lock turns on automatically when you turn on Find My Mac on certain devices.

Activation Lock helps you keep your Mac secure if it’s ever lost, stolen, or misplaced, and can improve your chances of recovering it. Activation Lock can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission, even if you erase your device remotely. All you need to do is keep Find My Mac turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password.

What you need

  • Upgrade your Mac to macOS Catalina.
  • Your Mac must have the Apple T2 Security Chip. You can learn whether your Mac has this chip in Apple menu  > About this Mac > System Report > Controller.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID.
  • Leave Secure Boot enabled on its default setting, Full Security, with “Disallow booting from external media” selected under the External Boot section.

How it works

When you turn on Find My Mac, your Apple ID password or device passcode is required before anyone can turn off Find My, erase your Mac, or reactivate and use your Mac.

Activation Lock is automatically enabled when you set up Find My on devices that meet its system requirements.

If your Mac goes missing

If you ever misplace your device or think it may have been stolen, you can sign into or use the Find My app to locate your device on a map, play a sound, lock your Mac, or erase it. Activation Lock works in the background to make it more difficult for someone to use or sell your missing device, but you can still remotely lock your device with Find My to secure it with a unique passcode and display a message onscreen for anyone who may find it.

How to check that Activation Lock is on

  1. Choose Apple menu  > About this Mac.
  2. Click System Report.
  3. Click Activation Lock Status under Hardware.

Turn off Activation Lock before you send your Mac in for service, sell it, or give it away

Before you send your Mac in for service, sell it, or give it away, you should turn off Activation Lock. If you have access to the device, turn off Find My Mac to disable Activation Lock, and then sign out of iCloud.

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences.
  2. Click Apple ID, then click iCloud.
  3. Turn off Find My Mac.
  4. Click the Sign Out button.

If you can’t access your Mac and you need to turn off Activation Lock, follow these steps.

  1. Go to and sign in with your Apple ID.
  2. Click Find iPhone.
  3. Select All Devices, then click your Mac.
  4. Click Erase Mac. Select Next until the device is erased.
  5. Click next to your Mac.

What to do if your Mac starts up to an Activate Mac window

If you’ve purchased a Mac from someone other than Apple or an authorized Apple reseller and the device starts up to an Activate Mac window, the device is still linked to the previous owner’s account. You’ll need to ask them to remove the device from their account.

Back up your data, then restore to factory settings by turning off certain features and services, erasing your Mac, and reinstalling macOS.

Moving to a new Mac? Before taking these steps, you can use Migration Assistant to move your files from the old Mac to your new Mac.

Create a backup

Make sure that you have a current backup of your important files. Learn how to back up your Mac.

Sign out of iTunes in macOS Mojave or earlier

If you’re using macOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes. From the menu bar at the top of the screen or iTunes window, choose Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer. Then enter your Apple ID and password and click Deauthorize.

Learn more about deauthorizing computers used with your iTunes account.

Sign out of iCloud

If you’re using macOS Catalina or later, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Apple ID. Select Overview in the sidebar, then click Sign Out.

If you’re using macOS Mojave or earlier, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, click iCloud, then click Sign Out.

You will be asked whether to keep a copy of your iCloud data on this Mac. You can click Keep a Copy, because you’re erasing your Mac later. Your iCloud data remains in iCloud and on any other devices that are signed in to iCloud with your Apple ID.

Sign out of iMessage

If you’re using OS X Mountain Lion or later, open the Messages app, then choose Messages > Preferences from the menu bar. Click iMessage, then click Sign Out.


Shut down your Mac, then turn it on and immediately press and hold these four keys together: Option, Command, P, and R. Release the keys after about 20 seconds. This clears user settings from memory and restores certain security features that might have been altered.

Optional: Unpair Bluetooth devices that you’re keeping

If your Mac is paired with a Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, trackpad, or other Bluetooth device that you plan to keep, you can unpair it. This optional step prevents accidental input when the Mac and device have separate owners but remain in Bluetooth range of each other.

If you’re unpairing Bluetooth input devices from a desktop computer such as an iMac, Mac mini, or Mac Pro, you must plug in a USB keyboard and mouse to complete the remaining steps in this article.

To unpair a Bluetooth device, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Bluetooth. Move your pointer over the device that you want to unpair, then click the remove (x) button next to the device name.

Erase your hard drive and reinstall macOS

The best way to restore your Mac to factory settings is to erase your hard drive and reinstall macOS.

After macOS installation is complete, the Mac restarts to a setup assistant that asks you to choose a country or region. To leave the Mac in an out-of-box state, don’t continue setup. Instead, press Command-Q to shut down the Mac. When the new owner turns on the Mac, the setup assistant guides them through the setup process.

No matter the model or condition, we can turn your device into something good for you and good for the planet: Learn how to trade in or recycle your Mac with Apple Trade In.

Locking your Mac’s display (or “sleeping” the display) can be a great security measure when paired with a user account password. While it won’t prevent the outright theft of your Mac, it can be a quick and easy way to prevent nosy family members or coworkers from getting access to your data.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Of course, sometimes laptops get stolen from coffee shops, offices, and homes, and a locked MacBook at least provides some protection of your date.

Before doing anything else, set your “Require Password” system preferences…

Configure Your System Preferences

In order for a MacBook lock screen command to be effective, you’ll first need to configure System Preferences to require your user account password when unlocking or waking up. To do this, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on System Preferences.
  2. Next, click on Security & Privacy.
  3. Make sure you are on the General tab.
  4. Check he checkbox next to Require Password
  5. Then, select the time interval from the Require Password
  6. From the Require Password pulldown menu select the amount of time you want the elapse “after sleep or screen saver begins” to require a password from these choices: immediately, 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, or 8 hours.

If you want the highest level of security, set it to “immediately” all the way up to the lowest level of security, which is 8 hours. Those who travel with their Macbook or use it in a public space might want to set the time interval to immediately, while those who only use their laptop at home might set it to longer. It’s probably not a good idea to set the time interval to re-enter the password to 8 or even 4 hours as laptops can fall into the wrong hands.

If you often find yourself accidentally locking your screen, set it to 5 seconds so that you can quickly unlock the display without having to enter your password.
How to lock your mac when you’re away
Next, you’ll need to decide on the exact functionality you want: lock (sleep) the display only, or sleep the entire system.

Locking or sleeping the display will shut the display off but keep the Mac running in the background.

If you performed the steps above to require a password, users will need to enter the correct account password in order to unlock the display.

Locking your Mac’s Screen Quickly with a Keyboard Shortcut

If you have a Mac running macOS Mojave, press these three keys simultaneously to lock your screen:В Command+Control+QВ keys.

To lock your Mac’s screen on an older Mac, press these keys simultaneously to lock your screen: Control+Shift+Power

For older Macs with that has a built-in drive, simultaneously press the following keys to lock your screen: Control + Shift + Eject.

In both cases, you’ll see your Mac’s display shut off immediately, while the system continues to run in the background. You’ll have to login again to resume using your Mac.

Performing a lock or display sleep command is useful for situations in which you’ll only be gone for a few minutes, as it allows you to jump immediately back to work. It’s also a good idea to use if you want to lock your Mac but have applications running in the background, such as a rendering operation or an encryption sequence.

Your Mac will still chug away at its task; the only difference is that anyone without the password won’t be able to access it, interrupting the process or otherwise messing around with your Mac.

Putting your Your Mac to Sleep with Keyboard Shortcuts

This option will put your Mac’s CPU to sleep rather than just locking the screen. MacBook owners are familiar with sleep; it occurs every time they shut their computer’s lid, or automatically after a user-defined period of time.

On macOS Mojave and other newer versions of macOS, press these three keys simultaneously to put your Mac to sleep:В Command + Option + Power.

If you have an older Mac with an optical drive, you can put it to sleep by pressing these three keys simultaneously:В Command + Option + Eject.

These commands will cause your Mac’s CPU to sleep immediately, shutting down all functions and requiring a password to resume using your MacBook.

Locking or putting your Mac to sleep from the Apple Menu

If you prefer to use the Apple Menu to keyboard combinations, you can choose either the sleep or the lock option from the Apple Menu. You can always find the Apple menu in the upper left of your Mac screen, scrolling down to select either Sleep or Lock Screen.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

When to Put your Mac to Sleep

Users running on battery power may prefer to put their Mac to sleep to save power. The practical effect is the same (preventing others from accessing your Mac), but this latter option saves battery power while the user is away.

On the other hand, putting your Mac to sleep will stop all background tasks as it puts the CPU to sleep, so it may not be the ideal option for users who want their Macs to keep working while they grab a coffee or stop for a bathroom break.

Also, it takes longer to wake up from a sleep state than from a display lock state, although on modern Macs with fast SSD storage the time difference between the two sleep options has shrunk considerably.

We at TechJunkie recommend that Mac users experiment with both options to find the one that suits them best for different situations. It’s also likely that users, especially those “on the go” with MacBooks, will find occasion to use both options more frequently than those who mostly use their Macs at home.Road warriors are more likely to need to save battery life and be more concerned about their Macbook being lost or stolen.

Of course, it’s not a good idea to leave your Mac in a public place but realistically you might go get a coffee refill leaving your Mac at your table.В It’s at least some peace of mind to know that your data will be protected from opportunistic thieves that might grab your Mac.

Regardless, having a strong user account password and taking a moment to ensure that your Mac is locked even if you only step away for a few seconds are both crucial steps to protecting your data.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like this TechJunkie tutorial:В How to Edit the Hosts File on macOS (Mac OS X).

Do you have any tips or tricks with regard to putting your MacBook to Sleep or locking your MacBook’s screen? If so, please tell us about it in a comment below.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

If you happen to use your Mac at a place where there are people who you think will access your machine when you go away, you should lock the display on your Mac so nobody can access it when you are not around.

There are multiple ways to lock the display on a Mac, and it’s up to you to decide which one you want to use. Here are all of them:

1. Using Keychain Access to Lock the Display

Keychain is a built-in feature on your Mac that allows you to lock the display on your Mac when you want to leave it. Here’s how you can set it up:

Click on Launchpad in your dock and search for “Keychain Access.”

How to lock your mac when you’re away

When Keychain launches, click on “Keychain Access” followed by “Preferences…” It should open the Preferences panel for the app.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Under the “General” tab in the panel, you should see an option that says “Show keychain status in menu bar.” Put a tick mark in it and it will be enabled. It should add an icon in the menu bar on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

The icon that was added to the menu bar looks like a lock. Click on it and you should see a menu. Select “Lock Screen” from that menu, and it will lock the display, or screen, on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

When you try to access your Mac, you will be prompted to enter your account password.

2. Using System Security to Lock the Display

If you don’t want to use the Keychain Access for any reason, you can use the System Security panel to lock your display. Here’s how you can do that.

Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences…” It will open the system preferences panel on your machine.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Click on “Security & Privacy” on the screen that follows and you will be taken to your security settings panel.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Check the box that says “Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins.” Make sure that the drop-down menu says “Immediately” or it will not lock your display as soon as you leave it.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

To lock your display, simply click on the Apple logo in the top left corner and select “Sleep.” Your Mac will go to sleep, and it will ask for a password when you want to wake it up.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

3. Using Fast User Switching to Lock the Display

This method should also help you lock the display on your Mac. Here’s how:

Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner and select “System Preferences…” It will open the Preferences panel on your machine.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

On the screen that follows, click on “Users & Groups.” It will open the users panel on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Click on “Login Options” on the screen that follows, and you should see some extra options to configure on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

One of the options on this screen says “Show fast user switching menu as Full Name.” Put a tick mark in it and it will be enabled.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Click on your name in the menu bar and select “Login window…” It will lock your screen and show the login window, and unless you enter the correct password for your account, you will not be able to use your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away


Leaving your Mac open when you are not using it is not a good idea, as there is the chance of your data getting stolen. You can use the above ways to lock the display on your Mac when you are away, and it will keep your machine secure for you.

Mahesh Makvana is a freelance tech writer who’s written thousands of posts about various tech topics on various sites. He specializes in writing about Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android tech posts. He’s been into the field for last eight years and hasn’t spent a single day without tinkering around his devices.

By Ed Hardy • 4:00 pm, February 18, 2021

  • How-To
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How to lock your mac when you’re awayActivation Lock prevents anyone else from taking over your Apple device. Here’s how to turn it off.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

When you sell an iPhone, Mac or other Apple computer, it’s critical to turn off Activation Lock or else the buyer won‘t be able to use the device. It’s easy to do when you still have the product, and not that much harder if you’ve already sold it.

Here’s what you need to know to prevent problems.

Activation Lock changed the world

A few years ago, there are a crime wave of stolen iPhones. People around the world were mugged every day just for iOS handsets. In 2012, Apple product theft accounted for 14% of all crime in New York City.

Then Apple created Activation Lock. It makes stolen devices useless because a new Apple ID can’t be added until the Lock is removed. What used to be a valuable stolen computer is instead a paperweight. And that was the end of the crime wave.

But the security system can also be a challenge for anyone buying or selling an Apple computer. Fortunately, turning it off is easy.

How to disable Activation Lock

Activation Lock is built into iOS, watchOS and macOS. And it’s activated when Find My [device] is. It’s not intuitive, but that’s the key to unlinking a computer from its owner’s Apple ID is turn off Find My.

If you still have the device, it’s easier. So try, try, try to remember to do this before you sell your computer. Or donate it. If you’re buying a used device, be sure to ask if they did this.

To turn off Activation Lock/Find My on an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > [USER NAME]. That’s the very top item, right under the word “Settings.” Then tap on Find My. At the top of the resulting page, toggle off Find My [DEVICE]. This label will specify iPhone or iPad. You’ll have to enter your Apple ID password to complete the change.

How to lock your mac when you’re away Take these steps to turn off Find My iPhone.
Screenshots: Cult of Mac On a Mac, go to the Apple menu > System Preferences. Click iCloud, then deselect Find My Mac. You’ll need to enter your Apple ID passcode.

Deactivating Find My on an Apple Watch requires the iPhone it’s paired with. First, power down the wearable. Then open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch at the bottom of the screen, then tap All Watches at the top of the resulting screen. On the following page, tap the round Info button next to the device you’re unpairing, than tap Unpair Apple Watch.

Alternatively, you can do this process from your Mac. Open the Find My app on your computer. Then click Devices. On the list, select the device you want to remove. Next, click the round Info button on the map, then click Remove This Device.

If you don’t have the device in hand

If you’ve already sold the computer or given it away it’s possible to remove Activation Lock remotely. (You might be reading this because the buyer is emailing you complaining that they can’t activate the device you sold than.)

From a web browser, sign in to with your Apple ID. Then hit Find iPhone. This will open a map showing the locations of your Apple products. Click All Devices at the top of the screen. Select the computer that you want to remove from iCloud. It can be a Mac, iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. Click Erase [device]. Select Next until the device is erased. Then click Remove from Account. How to lock your mac when you’re away Head to the iCloud website to turn off Activation Lock on a device no longer in your possession.
Photo: Cult of Mac

If you need more help, visit Apple’s support site for its guide on how to turn off Activation Lock.