Skip to content

How to unlock your Mac with Apple Watch

Maybe my favourite Continuity feature is Apple Watch Unlock for the Mac. Once you’ve set it up, then you’ll ever have to enter your password to unlock your Mac ever again — not until you restart it anyway. It’s one of the best examples of Apple’s It Just Works philosophy, and it will change the way you use your Mac.

Never unlock with your password again

Just check one box.
Just check one box.
Photo: Cult of Mac

If you have any Apple Watch, and any Mac built from 2013 onwards, then you can use this tip. Just head to the System Preferences, and click on the Security panel. Here, you’ll need to check one box: Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac. It may already be checked, by default, if you recently got a new Mac.

Once checked, unlocking your Mac is automatic. Whenever you wake the Mac, or want to unlock the screensaver, it will check to see that your Apple Watch is nearby, and that you are wearing it. The watch also needs to be unlocked. If this is all in order, you Mac will unlock. It’s fast, it always works (for me, at least), and in some ways it’s more secure than a password.

Security and convenience

Using your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac can actually make it more secure. Because you don’t have to type your passcode in every time you use the computer, you can set a longer one. Also, you can set the passcode timeout on your Mac to a shorter interval. Instead of having it only ask for a passcode after an hour, say, you can set it to immediately lock the Mac as soon as the screen or the computer sleeps.

This convenience is extended to apps. One you have enabled the Unlock with Apple Watch setting, you can also use the watch to approve password requests from apps. We have a whole how-to on this, but the short version is that, any time a password request appears, you just double-click the Apple Watch’s side button to approve it. If your Mac has Touch ID, then the Watch-approval method is pretty useless, but for older Macs, it’s gold.

Apple Watch Unlock

Of all the excellent continuity features — Handoff, Universal Clipboard, and so on — this is the one that most impresses me, because it pretty works every time. It’s so good that I already don’t notice it. My Mac is unlocked when I want it to be, and locked the rest of the time. If you aren’t already using it, then check it out today.

Previous article How to watch Apple’s big WWDC 2021 keynote on June 7

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields

★ Customer reviews

Let customers speak for us

749 reviews
81%
(603)
11%
(80)
6%
(43)
1%
(7)
2%
(16)
Rilee & Lo Apple Watch Band, Black

I love this watch band, it's super comfortable and it fits perfectly.

Very Good Quality Leather Watch Band

The Monowear Classic is a very good quality watch band that gives your Apple Watch a great look for more formal or dress up occasions. My preference is to have a leather band without colored stitching and with a black stainless steel clasp. This band fits that criteria and provides a secure, classic method of attaching to my wrist.

Function101 Button Remote For Apple TV

I wish I could say something about this item but I have not received it. Pity about the money I spent!

Good morning, Thank you for your review. I have checked the process of your order, and the last update from USPS on September 18, states your package is delayed but still on its way, if this doesn’t change by next week please get back in touch by emailing me at adel@cultofmac.com
Many thanks, Adel.

Good second remote

Apple TV will only connect to one Apple remote, I found out after paying $60 for a second one. This remote worked out of the box and I have had no trouble. It allows my wife to have a remote as well.

Good product, but doesn't work as smoothly with every streaming app on Apple TV

It works fine, no problem connecting it to my Apple TV, so there is nothing wrong with the product. I just find myself and my partner still mostly using the apple remote. Maybe just out of habit. it is easier to rewind or fast forward with it on most apps, not on YouTube, but Netflix or appleTV+