How to Lock a MacBook

Lock your Mac and keep it safe

A laptop with a locked chain wrapped around it.

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Our digital devices hold vast information about our lives, and if you already haven't, you should considering locking your MacBook with macOS to keep its contents safe. When you had initially set up your computer, you had selected a password for your machine — learn how to employ your MacBook password to lock the machine's contents away from those who shouldn't have access.

Disable Automatic Login For Users

When you first start up your computer, it may automatically log you in and bring you to your desktop, while convenient, this feature is extremely insecure; it allows anyone to access your machine. Follow these steps so that your MacBook will prompt you for a password when turning the machine on:

  1. Click on the Apple icon, located in the upper-left corner of your screen.

  2. Select the System Preferences option.

  3. From the icons presented, select Users & Groups, then the Login Options button.

    Users & Groups
  4. If the screen is currently greyed out, click the lock icon in the lower-left corner of the window that says Click the lock to make changes. Enter your password, then click Unlock.

  5. Locate the Automatic login drop-down and ensure it is set to Off.

    Automatic login
  6. You have now disabled automatic login on macOS.

Ways to Quickly Lock Your MacBook

If you are looking to manually lock your MacBook, maybe you need to step away and grab a cup of coffee or take a lunch break, there are a variety of ways to accomplish the task. Check out these different methods for locking your MacBook and select the option that is most seamless for you.

The lock screen command via the Apple icon

Lock MacBook via Apple Icon

  1. Click on the Apple icon, located in the upper-left corner of your screen.

  2. Select the Lock Screen option.

Lock MacBook via Keyboard Shortcut

If you would rather avoid the need to dig through system menus, you can also lock your MacBook with a simple key command. Simply enter this key command whenever you need to step away from your machine:

Control + Command + Q
Lock MacBook via a Hotcorner

Lock MacBook via a Hotcorner

Hot corners are an ability within macOS that allow you to perform a specific action, such as locking your machine, when your mouse is moved into one of the four corners of your monitor. To enable the feature, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple icon, located in the upper-left corner of your screen.

  2. Select the System Preferences option.

  3. From the icons presented, select Desktop & Screensaver, then ensure you are under the Screen Saver tab.

  4. Click the Hot Corners... button in the lower-right corner of the window.

  5. Select the drop-down next to the adjacent corner you would like to use your MacBook then select the Lock Screen option.

  6. Click OK to complete the action and close the dialog window.

    Lock MacBook via Touchbar

Lock MacBook via Touchbar

If you have a MacBook Pro machine with a touch bar, you can place a dedicated icon into the screen strip that will lock your MacBook when tapped. Follow these instructions to customize your touch bar for the functionality:

This ability is only present on MacBook Pro computers with the touch bar. The following models of MacBook Pro include the touch bar, all 15-inch machines since 2016, and select 13-inch machines since 2016.

  1. Click on the Apple icon, located in the upper-left corner of your screen.

  2. Select the System Preferences option.

  3. From the icons presented, select Keyboard.

  4. Select the Customize Touch Bar... button in the lower-right corner of the window.

  5. Use your mouse to drag the Screen Lock button down to your touch bar.

  6. Click the Done button to close the window and complete the task.

Have Your MacBook Automatically Lock

There may be instances when you don't want to lock your MacBook manually, but would instead prefer that your machine perform the task for you. Additionally, enabling these options will increase the overall security of your device.

Require Immediate Password After Sleep or Screen Saver

Require Immediate Password After Sleep or Screen Saver

If you close the lid of your computer or are away from it long enough that the screensaver engages, you are properly distant enough from the machine that you prefer it be kept locked. Follow these steps to have your MacBook automatically lock itself whenever put to sleep or when the screensaver engages.

  1. Click on the Apple icon, located in the upper-left corner of your screen.

  2. Select the System Preferences option.

  3. From the icons presented, select Security & Privacy, then ensure you are under the General tab.

  4. Ensure the checkbox is selected next to Require password and then ensure the option in the drop-down box is set to Immediately.

    Have your screensaver engage quicker when you are away by locating the Desktop & Screensaver option in System Preferences, then changing the Start After setting under the Screen Saver tab.

  5. That's it, your screen will now automatically lock when the screensaver engages or when you put your computer to sleep — such as when you close the lid.

Truly Concerned About Security?

Filevault on MacBOok

Locking your MacBook is a significant first step to ensure those who should have access to your machine; however, with a few proper tools and the right knowledge, someone still might be able to access your data with more advanced means. For more advanced protection, consider enabling FileVault on your MacBook so that your entire drive, and its contents, are encrypted.