How to Change Security Settings & Unlock Mac with Apple Watch

* This article is from our Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Having to unlock your Mac every time you return after stepping away to use the bathroom or grab a drink is a hassle. You can get around this by setting a longer interval of time before your Mac auto locks, but the trade off is less security for the data on your computer. Learning how to unlock your Mac with an Apple Watch is the solution.

Related: How to Open Your Apple Watch with Your iPhone

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Why You'll Love This Tip

  • Lets you increase security and shorten the time your Mac stays unlocked when you step away from your computer.
  • You can skip having to re-enter a passcode or use Touch ID when you return.
  • Your Mac is never unlocked without your knowledge. Your Apple Watch alerts you every time it uses Auto Unlock.

Note: This tip requires you to enable the passcode on your Apple Watch running WatchOS 3 or later. This tip works on most MacBook, iMac, and Mac mini models since 2013 or 2014. Find out if your Mac meets Apple's system requirements for Auto Unlock.

How to Unlock a Mac with an Apple Watch

Once you have the Auto Unlock function set up, when your watch is near the computer and unlocked, it will unlock your computer. If you're worried that your Mac could be unlocked without your knowledge, don't be; your Apple Watch will use haptic feedback to tap you on the wrist any time it unlocks your Mac. 

  1. Open System Preferences.

    Open System Preferences on your Mac
  2. Click on Security & Privacy.

    Click on Security & Privacy
  3. Click on the General tab if you're not already on it.

    Click on the General tab if you're not already there
  4. Click the gray box next to Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac or Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac, whichever option is available to you.

    Click the gray box next to Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac or Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac
  5. If you want to increase security, you can also select a shorter length of time before your Mac locks after sleep or screen saver begins.
    set auto lock interval for Mac
  6. You will be prompted to enter your Mac password to allow this change.
  7. Enter your password and click Unlock.

    Enter your Mac password and click Unlock

Now you know how to unlock your Mac with your Apple watch. If you decide you don't like having a passcode on your Apple Watch and end up disabling it, you will no longer be able to use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac, so keep that in mind! IF you experience any issues and need to fix the unlock with Apple Watch feature, read this.

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Author Details

Erin MacPherson's picture

Author Details

Erin MacPherson

Erin is a Web Editor for iPhone Life and has been a writer, editor, and researcher for many years. She has a degree in communication with an emphasis on psychology and communication, and has spent many of her professional years as a coach in various business and specialty fields. Erin officially joined the ranks of iPhone and Apple users everywhere around nine years ago, and has since enjoyed the unique and customized feel of Apple technology and its many gadgets. When she’s not working, Erin and her son enjoy outdoor adventures, camping, and spending time with their eclectic collection of pets.