Locking a Mac instantly while you're away from it

8 October 2015, 00:54

Windows provides the Win+L key combo that locks the computer instantly should you step away from it. On a Mac there’s a handful choices for the same action, although each involves sleeping the screen or activating the screensaver in order to invoke the password prompt.

Therefore you first need to make it so that your Mac requires your password immediately should this happen. You can do this by opening System Preferences, clicking the Security icon, selecting the General tab, and putting a check alongside Require Password. Then switch the dropdown list to read Immediately.

Now, you have at least three options when it comes to instantly password protecting your Mac, as follows:

  • Key combination: Press Option+Cmd+Power, or Option+Cmd+Eject if you have an older Mac or older Mac keyboards. Essentially, you need to tap the key at the top right of the keyboard. If you’re a Brit, that combo is Alt+Cmd+Power/Eject.

  • Via the menu bar: A little setup work is necessary. Open Keychain Access, which you’ll find in the Utilities folder of Applications. Open its preferences dialog (Cmd+comma), ensure the General tab is selected, and then put a check in Show Keychain Status in Menu Bar. In future, you can click the padlock menu bar item and select Lock Screen.

  • Command line/third-party app: If you’re a friend of the command-line, or if you use a third-party app that lets you run commands, you can use the following command:

    /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu\ Extras/User.menu/Contents/Resources/CGSession -suspend

    Or, if you want to use AppleScript instead, the following will lock the screen:

    tell application "Finder" to sleep

Note that there are a few apps that claim to use Bluetooth and your phone/Watch to lock the Mac when you’re away. To be honest, I find these just don’t work well enough because of the way Bluetooth works.

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Leave a comment...

That’s cool! Did not know that and great find!

I used Desktop & Screensaver’s hot corner to turn on screensaver (bottom right corner) to show password right away.

I believe it’s quicker that way if you are in a hurry so you can quickly move the mouse there.

Aaron Hall · Oct 9, 08:36 AM · #

Another menu bar option is the Users & Groups fast user switching menu. Just select “Login window…”

— Marc Robinson · Oct 9, 09:00 AM · #

The key combo doesn’t instantly lock the screen for me – just turns it off. I can click the mouse 10 seconds later and it comes back on without a password (which my computer requires).

But using KeyChain Access to Lock the screen is immediate.

Any way to make the key combo work like Lock Screen?

— Adi · Oct 9, 10:44 AM · #

Adi, read the second paragraph of the piece:

“Therefore you first need to make it so that your Mac requires your password immediately should this happen. You can do this by opening System Preferences, clicking the Security icon, selecting the General tab, and putting a check alongside Require Password. Then switch the dropdown list to read Immediately.”

Keir · Oct 9, 11:57 AM · #

Another I’ve been using for ~7 years: using Hot Corners (Sys Prefs > Mission Control > Hot Corners, on El Cap.) set one corner to “Put Display to Sleep”.

— Octavio · Oct 9, 02:31 PM · #

Another option.

I activate Hot Corners in my bottom left of the screen, select “Put Display To Sleep”, and “require password IMMEDIATELY after sleep or screen saver begins”. When I need to lock my screen I just mouse to the bottom left corner, screen shuts off and is immediately locked.

— Bill V · Oct 9, 07:51 PM · #

Curious if I’ve got an unusual setup or something. I’ve always been able to hold the power key for less than a second and it locks.

Do I have some kind of setting that’s abnormal?

— Matthew Frederick · Oct 9, 11:00 PM · #

I’ve been using control+shift+power to achieve this across several different MacBooks.

— Darren · Oct 11, 07:34 AM · #

Is there a way to customize the key combo shortcut? I want to use a keyboard shortcut, but I use the Das Keyboard Model S for Mac 99% of the time, so the power button is not available.

— Collin Barrett · Oct 13, 06:37 AM · #

Thank u , You provided very useful information and tips.

Paul Alastair · Oct 29, 03:50 AM · #

 
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