How-ToTech

3 Very Different Ways to Unlock Your Mac

How do you like to unlock your Mac? This question wouldn’t have made sense prior to 2016, when Apple introduced Touch ID to the MacBook Pro—but times have changed.

Although the traditional password method is far from obsolete, new and exciting ways to unlock your Mac have emerged. If you don’t like typing, scan your fingerprints. If you don’t like fingerprint sensors, wear an Apple Watch.

Clearly, there’s more than one way to unlock a Mac. Some methods are relatively new, while others are tried and true. Let’s discuss all the ways to unlock a Mac using password, Touch ID, and Apple Watch.

1. Use Password to Unlock Your Mac

When it comes to unlocking your Mac with a good old-fashioned password, you have a couple of options. If you’re concerned about security and want to encrypt your internal drive, enabling FileVault is the ideal solution. We’ll discuss that in a moment.

But if security isn’t a concern, you can opt for a traditional admin password. In more recent versions of macOS, having an administrator account with a strong password is a decent way to secure your device. However, without FileVault enabled, someone could gain access to the contents of your unencrypted drive if they’re willing to put in the effort.


When you opt to access your Mac with a password, you’ll need to enter that password whenever you want to log in, unlock preferences panes, or perform other admin tasks. If the traditional method has served you well, you can continue to do things the old way without sacrificing security.

However, adding encryption to the mix is wise if your Mac contains any sensitive data. To enable FileVault encryption, you’ll need to go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault and switch the feature on. And if you need to change your admin password at any time, System Preferences > Users & Groups is where you want to go.

2. Use Touch ID to Unlock Your Mac

If you’re a modern Mac user, Touch ID is one of the quickest ways to unlock your device—but the feature does more than just that. Once you’ve added your fingerprints to System Preferences > Touch ID, you can use Apple’s Touch ID tool in multiple areas, including:

  • Apple Pay
  • iTunes Store, App Store, and Apple Books
  • Password AutoFill
  • Fast user switching
  • And, of course, unlocking your Mac


When you have Touch ID enabled, your Mac will still ask for a password when you first log in after restarting. But once you’re in, you’re free to switch to fingerprints for most security-related tasks.

3. Use an Apple Watch to Unlock Your Mac

Why waste time with pesky passwords or fussy fingerprint scanners when you can unlock your Mac simply by wearing a watch? The future is here, and it’s attached to your wrist. Once you’ve configured each your Apple Watch and Mac correctly, your Mac will automatically unlock whenever you’re nearby and wearing your Apple Watch. Security has never been simpler.

Here are the requirements for unlocking your Mac using an Apple Watch:

  • macOS 10.13 or later
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on
  • Signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID and two-factor authentication
  • Passcode enabled on Apple Watch

To enable Apple Watch unlocking, you’ll need to go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and tick Use Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac or Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac, whichever option appears.

Once you’ve correctly configured the feature, being close to your Mac with your Apple Watch on your wrist should be enough to unlock your device.

What’s the Best Way to Unlock Your Mac?

If you’re a traditionalist, using a password to unlock your Mac is likely your style. The method may be effective, but it’s not the most efficient way to secure your computer.

If you fancy yourself a modern Mac user, Touch ID may be more your flavor. Using your fingerprints to unlock your device would’ve seemed like sci-fi only a couple of decades ago, and Apple’s responsive scanner streamlines most security-related tasks

If, however, you’re a futurist to the core, the Apple Watch should undoubtedly be your tool of choice when it comes to unlocking your Mac.

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