How to unlock your Mac with an Apple Watch
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  • Post published:23/06/2021
  • Post last modified:23/06/2021
  • You can unlock your Mac with a paired Apple Watch using a feature called “Auto Unlock.”
  • To set up the feature, you need a compatible Apple Watch and Mac signed into the same iCloud account.
  • You can enable the feature in your Mac’s Security & Privacy menu.
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You probably purchased your Apple Watch for its fitness trackers, or to easily use Apple Pay. But its features are growing year by year.

For example, you can use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac. The “Auto Unlock” feature lets you pair an Apple Watch with a Mac that’s signed into the same iCloud account, so you can unlock the Mac just by sitting down in front of it with the Watch on your wrist.

Here’s how to make sure that you have the right gadgets to use Auto Unlock, and how to set it up.

What you’ll need to enable Auto Unlock

Before you can use Auto Unlock, you’ll need to make sure that your Watch and Mac are compatible and up-to-date. Make sure that your devices meet these criteria:

  • Your Apple Watch is running watchOS 3 or newer
  • Your Mac is running macOS Sierra or newer; or if you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, macOS High Sierra or newer
Your Mac and Apple Watch need to be running the right software.
Future Publishing/Getty Images
  • They’re signed into the same iCloud account
  • They both have a passcode set up

You’ll also need to enable two-factor authentication on your iCloud account.

How to unlock your Mac with an Apple Watch

Once you know that you have two compatible devices, turning on Auto Unlock is a painless process.

1. Log into your Mac and open the System Preferences menu. You can do this by clicking the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen and selecting System Preferences. It may also be pinned to your dock (its icon looks like a gray gear).

2. Open Security & Privacy and click on the General tab at the top of the window.

3. With your iPhone unlocked and your Apple Watch on your wrist, check off the box labeled Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac. When prompted, enter your Mac’s password.

You’ll have to enter your Mac’s password to edit this setting.
William Antonelli/Insider

You should now be able to unlock your Mac without entering its password, just by wearing your Apple Watch when you wake it.

Christine Kopaczewski contributed to a previous version of this article.

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