Unlock Your Mac with Your Apple Watch

When Apple announced macOS Sierra and showed us all the new features that would be included, there was one feature that stood out immediately as one that I would use many times every single day... unlocking my Mac with my Apple Watch! To say that I love this feature is an understatement.

If you read my post on improving security (click here), then you know that longer passwords are better (i.e.: more secure) than shorter passwords. The expected side effect... it's less convenient and takes longer to log in to your Mac. This tip will save you a ton of time (not to mention digit fatigue)! In this post, I will explain how it works and walk you through the steps you'll need to go through to make it work for you.

First, there are 4 requirements:

  1. your Mac must be running macOS Sierra (10.12)
  2. your Apple Watch must be running watchOS 3
  3. your Mac needs to be mid-2013 or later
  4. you need to have an iCloud account

If you meet those 4 requirements, then you're good to go! Keep reading.

Before we can use our Apple Watch to unlock our Mac, we need to enable two-factor authentication on our iCloud account (click here for more information on two-factor authentication). There are two ways to enable two-factor authentication:

  • on your Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details
  • on your iPhone, go to Settings > iCloud, then tap on your account
  • visit appleid.apple.com

Note: two-FACTOR authentication is NOT the same as two-STEP verification. If you have two-step verification enabled, you'll need to disable that before enabling two-factor authentication. You can do this by going to appleid.apple.com. Not sure if you have either of these enabled? Visit appleid.apple.com, log in and check your security settings.

With two-factor authentication enabled for your iCloud account, all that's left is to enable the unlocking feature on your Mac. To do this, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Enable the "Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac" option, as shown below:

That's it! Now it's time to test it. As long as you are wearing your Apple Watch and your Watch is within 4 feet of your laptop when you open the lid or unlock it from screensaver, the unlocking process is completely automatic without a single key to press!

Posted on October 3, 2016 and filed under How To, Mac, Watch.