How to lock your mac when you’re away

Out of all the measures you should take to protect your digital privacy, locking a device might be the most basic, but it can surely be the most effective.

Whether you’re at school, an office, or even at home, locking your Mac — even if you step away just for a moment — is a no-brainer. Just think of all the sensitive information that’s just a few clicks away: Security codes, work documents, financial statements, all of your social accounts, and more.

There are several ways you can lock your Mac, which we outline below. But before you can do that, you’ll want to set up a password for your computer. Here’s everything you need to know.

Setting up a password on Mac

In order to lock your Mac, you’ll need to first set up a password. This password will be required for both logging into your Mac as well as approving changes to your computer.

1. Click the Apple icon, located in the top-left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences.”

2. Click “Security and Privacy”

3. In the General tab, check the box that says “Require password.” You can also set the timing of the password, from “immediately” up to “8 hours.” It’s important to choose “immediately” if you want your computer to automatically lock when it goes to sleep or screensaver mode.

We should also note that clicking “Advanced” in the lower-right hand corner of the window allows you to specify how long your computer can be idle before it automatically logs out and requires a password to get back in. This is an ideal last line of defense against would-be intruders.

Once your password is set, you’ll be able to lock your Mac in several different ways — the best method depends on your habits and preferences, and if you typically use your computer in a private or public setting.

Closing the lid

If you’re working on a MacBook, you can simply close the lid. This by far the easiest method, but only works if you’ve set the computer to “immediately” lock when you set up your password.

Apple menu bar

Another simple way to lock your Mac is from the Apple icon in the menu bar. From the Apple icon dropdown menu, click on “Lock Screen.”

Using keyboard shortcuts

You can easily lock your Mac from your keyboard:

  • Press Control + Command + Q: This shortcut will take you directly to the lock screen.
  • Press Control + Shift + Power button: This shortcut will turn your displays off only — background tasks, like music, will continue.
  • Press Command + Option + Power button: This shortcut will put your computer into sleep mode.

Note: If you’re using an older Mac with a media eject button, press the Eject button in place of the Power button.

Using Hot Corners

If you prefer locking your screen with a flick of the wrist, you can set a shortcut so your screen goes into screensaver mode when you move your pointer to a certain corner of the screen. This feature is called Hot Corners, and here’s how to set it up:

1. Click the Apple icon. From the dropdown menu, click “System Preferences.”

2. Click “Desktop & Screen Saver”

3. In the window that pops up, navigate to the “Screen Saver” tab, then click “Hot Corners.”

4. Click the pop-up menu for the corner you want to use, and choose “Start Screen Saver,” then click “OK.” Now, whenever you move the cursor to the corner selected, your computer will enter screensaver mode.

Using the Mac Touch Bar

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can customize it to include a “Screen Lock” icon.

1. Click the Apple icon and open System Preferences.

2. Click “Keyboard.”

4. An icon menu will pop up from the bottom of your screen. Find the “Screen Lock” icon and drag it into the touch bar. You can arrange the buttons any way you like.

5. Once complete, click “Done.” You’ll now be able to lock your screen via the Touch Bar.

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If you think your social media profiles give away too much about your life, imagine the wealth of personal information and important data your Mac contains. By now, every IT security expert in the world recommends to lock your Mac every time you step away from it in public (and why not in private too). So you can do yourself a massive favor — learn about MacBook lockscreen options, pick the one that works best for you, and kick off your new habit. Remember: Lock Mac. Every time.

How To Lock Mac With User Preferences

Truth be told, locking Macs is extremely easy and there are a few ways to do it. But, first of all, it’s important to make sure your Mac is configured to ask for a password every time you turn it on — so it wouldn’t just let anybody in after you lock it.

To disable automatic logins:

Go to the Apple menu ➙ System Preferences

Click on Users & Groups ➙ Login Options

Find a dropdown menu by the Automatic login and make sure it is set to Off

How to lock your mac when you’re away

How to lock Mac screen using shortcut keys

To use a simple combo of keys is the easiest way to instantly lock screen on Mac. What are they?

Ctrl + ⌘ + Q. Just make sure to press the keys carefully when using this shortcut to lock Mac, so that you don’t hit just + Q by accident. Without the Ctrl key, it will result in shutting down the app you’re working with, which makes it more likely to lose any unsaved work.

Ctrl + Shift + Power. A simple Mac lock screen shortcut to send your display to sleep.

Ctrl + ⌘ + Power. Another good option to consider, which sends your entire Mac to sleep as well but also saves more energy by turning to low-power mode and stopping background tasks.

How to lock a Mac using the Apple menu

If shortcuts just aren’t your thing and you’re more comfortable using your mouse or trackpad instead, try another easy option. To lock Mac screen from the Apple menu:

Go to the Apple menu at the top left of your screen

In the dropdown menu, choose Lock Screen. Boom!

How to lock your mac when you’re away

If you have a MacBook Pro with a touch bar, you can create a dedicated icon that will lock MacBook Pro when tapped. To set up this option:

Go to the Apple menu once again ➙ select System Preferences

Select Customize Touch Bar in the lower right corner of the window

Drag the Screen Lock button to your touch bar using your mouse ➙ Done

How to lock screen on Mac using hot corners?

Hot Corners macOS feature takes little time to set up and, once configured, lets you lock Mac literally with a whiff of your hand. What happens is you designate a specific corner of your screen and every time you drag a cursor there it acts as a “Mac lock screen” command. Obviously, it’s important to choose the corner you don’t normally visit much, otherwise the trick intended to be a lifesaver might quickly become a major annoyance.

When the corner is picked, you’re ready to set the Hot Corners feature on your Mac. Simply follow these instructions to guarantee yourself an instant lock screen on Mac:

Launch System Preferences

Click on Desktop & Screen Saver ➙ Screen Saver

Tap the Hot Corners button in the bottom-right corner of the window

This will open a panel with a dropdown menu for each of the corners — click on one by the corner you have decided to designate ➙ choose Lock Screen

How to lock your mac when you’re away

How to lock keyboard on Mac

Once you’ve figured out how to lock MacBook, there’s no need to additionally lock your keyboard — when you lock your Mac, both keyboard and display are locked. If, however, you need to have your keyboard locked while keeping the display active — you might consider using external display or look for specialized apps to perform the task.

How to lock Mac automatically

In addition to instances when you lock screen on Mac to step away, it’s also possible to configure the settings to lock Mac automatically when you close the lid or after the screensaver comes up. Simply follow these steps to activate the option:

Go to System Preferences

Press Security & Privacy ➙ choose the General tab

Check the box next to “Require password”

Choose Immediately from the dropdown menu next to “Require password”

How to lock your mac when you’re away

It might also be a good idea to optimize your settings to have screensaver engage quicker or use specialized apps like One Switch to perform the task in a single click.

One Switch is a great time-saving app that gives you access to all the important Mac switches right in your menu bar. It can launch the screensaver in an instant as well as prevent your Mac from going into sleep for as long as you need it. Besides, with One Switch you also get to:

Auto-change your user interface from sunrise to sunset with light and dark modes

Instantly clear desktop clutter by hiding all your icons in one click

Connect AirPods in one click too instead of five when you go through System Preferences

Schedule do-not-disturb hours for productivity with all notifications disabled from showing up on your screen

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Or forget about having to memorize the Mac shortcut to lock screen or any other ways to lock Mac described above altogether. If you use Lacona.

Lacona takes fast and efficient to a whole new level: think of this app as a desktop alternative to Siri that is integrated with all the built-in Mac services and is powerful enough to let you run your entire Mac from a minimalistic pop-up window. You type commands in your own words, without having to learn the specific formats, and this intelligent app will:

Create reminders and schedule events

Translate and find meaning of words

Do instant calculations

Plus, do an impossible number of other things that involve working with apps on your Mac and using add-ons like IFTTT (if this then that) commands that allow you to link actions in one app with consequent actions in a different app

How to lock your mac when you’re away

As you can see, the whole idea of locking up religiously to protect all the personal stuff you keep on your Mac almost by definition calls for actions so simple they could be performed multiple times a day. And all the options for MacBook lock screen described above are just that. Try them all and see which one suits you the most.

Best of all, you can check out all the great features of One Switch and Lacona mentioned above for free on a seven-day trial with Setapp — a platform of more than 150 handpicked powerful Mac apps and tools capable to easily resolve any digital issue and boost your productivity on Mac tremendously. So, what are you waiting for? Time to do something amazing! Just don’t forget to lock your Mac when you step out for that coffee.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

If you happen to use your Mac at a place where there are people who you think will access your machine when you go away, you should lock the display on your Mac so nobody can access it when you are not around.

There are multiple ways to lock the display on a Mac, and it’s up to you to decide which one you want to use. Here are all of them:

1. Using Keychain Access to Lock the Display

Keychain is a built-in feature on your Mac that allows you to lock the display on your Mac when you want to leave it. Here’s how you can set it up:

Click on Launchpad in your dock and search for “Keychain Access.”

How to lock your mac when you’re away

When Keychain launches, click on “Keychain Access” followed by “Preferences…” It should open the Preferences panel for the app.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Under the “General” tab in the panel, you should see an option that says “Show keychain status in menu bar.” Put a tick mark in it and it will be enabled. It should add an icon in the menu bar on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

The icon that was added to the menu bar looks like a lock. Click on it and you should see a menu. Select “Lock Screen” from that menu, and it will lock the display, or screen, on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

When you try to access your Mac, you will be prompted to enter your account password.

2. Using System Security to Lock the Display

If you don’t want to use the Keychain Access for any reason, you can use the System Security panel to lock your display. Here’s how you can do that.

Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences…” It will open the system preferences panel on your machine.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Click on “Security & Privacy” on the screen that follows and you will be taken to your security settings panel.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Check the box that says “Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins.” Make sure that the drop-down menu says “Immediately” or it will not lock your display as soon as you leave it.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

To lock your display, simply click on the Apple logo in the top left corner and select “Sleep.” Your Mac will go to sleep, and it will ask for a password when you want to wake it up.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

3. Using Fast User Switching to Lock the Display

This method should also help you lock the display on your Mac. Here’s how:

Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner and select “System Preferences…” It will open the Preferences panel on your machine.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

On the screen that follows, click on “Users & Groups.” It will open the users panel on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Click on “Login Options” on the screen that follows, and you should see some extra options to configure on your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

One of the options on this screen says “Show fast user switching menu as Full Name.” Put a tick mark in it and it will be enabled.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Click on your name in the menu bar and select “Login window…” It will lock your screen and show the login window, and unless you enter the correct password for your account, you will not be able to use your Mac.

How to lock your mac when you’re away


Leaving your Mac open when you are not using it is not a good idea, as there is the chance of your data getting stolen. You can use the above ways to lock the display on your Mac when you are away, and it will keep your machine secure for you.

Mahesh Makvana is a freelance tech writer who’s written thousands of posts about various tech topics on various sites. He specializes in writing about Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android tech posts. He’s been into the field for last eight years and hasn’t spent a single day without tinkering around his devices.

Activation Lock is designed to prevent others from using your Mac if it’s lost or stolen.

Activation Lock helps keep your Mac secure, even if it’s lost or stolen, and can improve your chances of recovering it. With Activation Lock, your Apple ID password or device passcode is required before anyone can turn off Find My, erase your Mac, or reactivate and use your Mac. Even if you erase your Mac remotely, Activation Lock can continue to deter others from reactivating your Mac without your permission. All you need to do is keep Find My turned on and remember your Apple ID and password.

How to enable Activation Lock

If your Mac meets the Activation Lock system requirements, just turn on Find My to enable Activation Lock:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Apple ID.
  2. Select iCloud in the sidebar, then select Find My Mac on the right.

Activation Lock remains enabled as long as you keep Find My turned on. Learn more about Find My.

How to disable Activation Lock

To disable Activation Lock, turn off Find My:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Apple ID.
  2. Select iCloud in the sidebar, then deselect Find My Mac on the right.
    Find My also turns off when you sign out of iCloud, such as when preparing to sell, give away, or trade in your Mac.

If you don’t have access to your Mac, use a web browser on another device to remove Activation Lock.

If your previously owned Mac shows an Activation Lock window that asks for someone else’s Apple ID, the previous owner may need to remove Activation Lock for you.

System requirements for Activation Lock

Activation Lock is available on Mac computers with Apple silicon or the Apple T2 Security Chip. Additional requirements:

Locking your Mac’s display (or “sleeping” the display) can be a great security measure when paired with a user account password. While it won’t prevent the outright theft of your Mac, it can be a quick and easy way to prevent nosy family members or coworkers from getting access to your data.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Of course, sometimes laptops get stolen from coffee shops, offices, and homes, and a locked MacBook at least provides some protection of your date.

Before doing anything else, set your “Require Password” system preferences…

Configure Your System Preferences

In order for a MacBook lock screen command to be effective, you’ll first need to configure System Preferences to require your user account password when unlocking or waking up. To do this, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on System Preferences.
  2. Next, click on Security & Privacy.
  3. Make sure you are on the General tab.
  4. Check he checkbox next to Require Password
  5. Then, select the time interval from the Require Password
  6. From the Require Password pulldown menu select the amount of time you want the elapse “after sleep or screen saver begins” to require a password from these choices: immediately, 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, or 8 hours.

If you want the highest level of security, set it to “immediately” all the way up to the lowest level of security, which is 8 hours. Those who travel with their Macbook or use it in a public space might want to set the time interval to immediately, while those who only use their laptop at home might set it to longer. It’s probably not a good idea to set the time interval to re-enter the password to 8 or even 4 hours as laptops can fall into the wrong hands.

If you often find yourself accidentally locking your screen, set it to 5 seconds so that you can quickly unlock the display without having to enter your password.
How to lock your mac when you’re away
Next, you’ll need to decide on the exact functionality you want: lock (sleep) the display only, or sleep the entire system.

Locking or sleeping the display will shut the display off but keep the Mac running in the background.

If you performed the steps above to require a password, users will need to enter the correct account password in order to unlock the display.

Locking your Mac’s Screen Quickly with a Keyboard Shortcut

If you have a Mac running macOS Mojave, press these three keys simultaneously to lock your screen:В Command+Control+QВ keys.

To lock your Mac’s screen on an older Mac, press these keys simultaneously to lock your screen: Control+Shift+Power

For older Macs with that has a built-in drive, simultaneously press the following keys to lock your screen: Control + Shift + Eject.

In both cases, you’ll see your Mac’s display shut off immediately, while the system continues to run in the background. You’ll have to login again to resume using your Mac.

Performing a lock or display sleep command is useful for situations in which you’ll only be gone for a few minutes, as it allows you to jump immediately back to work. It’s also a good idea to use if you want to lock your Mac but have applications running in the background, such as a rendering operation or an encryption sequence.

Your Mac will still chug away at its task; the only difference is that anyone without the password won’t be able to access it, interrupting the process or otherwise messing around with your Mac.

Putting your Your Mac to Sleep with Keyboard Shortcuts

This option will put your Mac’s CPU to sleep rather than just locking the screen. MacBook owners are familiar with sleep; it occurs every time they shut their computer’s lid, or automatically after a user-defined period of time.

On macOS Mojave and other newer versions of macOS, press these three keys simultaneously to put your Mac to sleep:В Command + Option + Power.

If you have an older Mac with an optical drive, you can put it to sleep by pressing these three keys simultaneously:В Command + Option + Eject.

These commands will cause your Mac’s CPU to sleep immediately, shutting down all functions and requiring a password to resume using your MacBook.

Locking or putting your Mac to sleep from the Apple Menu

If you prefer to use the Apple Menu to keyboard combinations, you can choose either the sleep or the lock option from the Apple Menu. You can always find the Apple menu in the upper left of your Mac screen, scrolling down to select either Sleep or Lock Screen.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

When to Put your Mac to Sleep

Users running on battery power may prefer to put their Mac to sleep to save power. The practical effect is the same (preventing others from accessing your Mac), but this latter option saves battery power while the user is away.

On the other hand, putting your Mac to sleep will stop all background tasks as it puts the CPU to sleep, so it may not be the ideal option for users who want their Macs to keep working while they grab a coffee or stop for a bathroom break.

Also, it takes longer to wake up from a sleep state than from a display lock state, although on modern Macs with fast SSD storage the time difference between the two sleep options has shrunk considerably.

We at TechJunkie recommend that Mac users experiment with both options to find the one that suits them best for different situations. It’s also likely that users, especially those “on the go” with MacBooks, will find occasion to use both options more frequently than those who mostly use their Macs at home.Road warriors are more likely to need to save battery life and be more concerned about their Macbook being lost or stolen.

Of course, it’s not a good idea to leave your Mac in a public place but realistically you might go get a coffee refill leaving your Mac at your table.В It’s at least some peace of mind to know that your data will be protected from opportunistic thieves that might grab your Mac.

Regardless, having a strong user account password and taking a moment to ensure that your Mac is locked even if you only step away for a few seconds are both crucial steps to protecting your data.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like this TechJunkie tutorial:В How to Edit the Hosts File on macOS (Mac OS X).

Do you have any tips or tricks with regard to putting your MacBook to Sleep or locking your MacBook’s screen? If so, please tell us about it in a comment below.

I want to leave my Mac awake overnight so it syncs 4GB of data from Dropbox. I need to prevent the machine from going to sleep because that pauses the Dropbox sync

I’ve been using Caffeine to keep the computer awake, but it also keeps the computer unlocked which is insecure.

I need a method to keep my Mac awake (so that Dropbox can sync overnight) but also locked (so no one can read my email). It’d be great if this method also turned off the screen (to preserve power), but honestly that’s not even 100% necessary.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

8 Answers 8

  1. In System Preferences > Energy Saver, check the box for “Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off” (on laptops, this is under the Power Adapter tab)
  2. In System Preferences > Security & Privacy, check the box for “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins” and set the delay in the dropdown menu to “immediately”

Now, you can hit command – option – power to turn off the display without sleeping the computer, and doing anything that turns on the display (like hitting a key or clicking a mouse button) will prompt you for your account password.

On newer macs without the eject key, please use control – shift + power instead.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Not sure when it was first available, but on MacOS High Sierra 10.13.4 you can go to Apple (top left) > Lock Screen or press control – command – q to activate the lock screen.

You should also do the first step in @daGUY’s answer

In System Preferences > Energy Saver, check the box for “Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off” (on laptops, this is under the Power Adapter tab)

On MacOs Mojave the accepted answer didnt work for me. What worked is to use free app Amphetamine. After app installation select the option Indefinitely. Now you can lock the screen and it will not go to sleep.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

How to lock your mac when you’re away

Wimoweh $$ will automatically keep your mac awake when user selectable processes are running and will control the display sleeping (or not) as well.

If you don’t use an Apple keyboard, you can lock it with the mouse by selecting your name in the right-side of the menubar and click Login Window.

You can use KeepingYouAwake. It is a free and lightweight menu bar utility for macOS (Version 10.10 and newer) that can prevent your Mac from entering sleep mode for a predefined duration or as long as it is activated.

It can be easily installed using Homebrew cask by running:

brew cask install keepingyouawake

It is an alternative to widely popular tool Caffeine from Lighthead Software. Caffeine hasn’t been updated in a while. KeepingYouAwake’s icons are Retina-compatible and do look nice in the dark themed menu bar.

Once you have activated KeepingYouAwake, you can simply lock the screen (by pressing Control + Command + q ), turn down the screen brightness and remain assured that the system won’t go to sleep!

How to lock your mac when you’re away

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How To Unlock / Lock Your Mac From Apple Watch

We told you about an app called MacID a little while ago, and it was already impressive at that point. Being able to unlock a Mac using Touch ID on your iPhone or iPad was awesome indeed, but with the introduction of the Apple Watch there was one feature addition that we all wanted for MacID.

Following an update that arrived today, the $3.99 App Store app now allows users to unlock their Mac using their Apple Watch. The whole unlocking process is just a case of tapping the icon that corresponds to the particular Mac that you want to unlock and that’s it. You’re in.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

That alone is enough to make us recommend MacID already, but there’s more to it than just unlocking a Mac. Thanks to today’s update, Mac users can now have the contents of their clipboard sent to a Mac from their iPhone, see what track is currently being played from within iTunes or Spotify on the Mac in question and start the screensaver all from the MacID app. This all happens remotely, and without a single password being entered anywhere along the way. It’s how the future should be.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

The update, which is now live in the App Store and is free for all existing MacID users, takes an already excellent app and takes it to the next logical conclusion which in this case is the Apple Watch. It’s also a good example of an app that translates well to the Apple Watch, especially given the inclusion of Glances for those of us that don’t tend to launch apps too often. If you own a Mac that supports Bluetooth LE then this app should be on your radar at the very least. We probably wouldn’t go out and buy a new Mac if Bluetooth LE isn’t present, but we’re not too far away!

If you think MacID doesn’t float your boat, then be sure to give Knock app a try as well, which lets you knock on your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.

You can download MacID from the link embedded below.

(Download: MacID for iOS on the App Store)

Be sure to check out our iPhone Apps Gallery and iPad Apps Gallery to explore more apps for your iPhone and iPad.

You can follow us on Twitter, add us to your circle on Google+ or like our Facebook page to keep yourself updated on all the latest from Microsoft, Google, Apple and the web.

Thorin Klosowski

Mac: It’s sometimes easy to forget to remember to lock your Mac’s screen when you walk away. If you’re looking for a simple automatic solution, Bluetooth Screen Lock is a utility that automatically locks your screen when you walk away with a paired Bluetooth device.

Bluetooth Lock Screen is a simple utility, but it comes in handy if you always forget to lock your screen. With a Bluetooth device like a smartphone or tablet paired with your Mac, you can set Bluetooth Screen Lock to kick on the screensaver and require a password login when you walk out of range. It’s an effective way to trigger a screen lock when you forget. Bluetooth Screen Lock is a 99¢ download in the Mac App Store.

About the Author

Thorin Klosowski


Is there an equivalent Windows application that does this?

Yes –
I just set this up for myself and a colleague last week and it works great (no upside down screens or NSFW wallpapers when I leave my desk and forget to lock it). It takes a bit of fiddling to get working as it doesn’t define what happens when you move away, it just calls another program which you choose. It’s a bit more flexible that way, but all you need to do is creat a batch file, e.g. lock.bat and enter the following in it –

%windir%\System32\rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation

then call that file from the above program.

I used to run something similar with my oldddddd iBook G3 and a Sony Ericsson T610. It’d lock when I left the room and unlock when I walked in. Very handy.

Keycard is a new Mac app that pairs to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with Bluetooth, and when it detects that you’ve stepped away from your Mac (assuming you have your device with you), it locks your Mac. Once you return, or enter in the 4 digit code, your Mac unlocks.

How to lock your mac when you’re away

To use Keycard, simply make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your iPhone or iPad, confirm it’s connected to Keycard on your Mac, and enter in a four digit password. Keycard also includes options to open at startup and hide from your dock.

The four digit password may seem like an odd feature of the app, since it’s all about your proximity to your computer, but this feature is actually very important. Suppose your iPhone’s battery dies when you’re away from your desk or even worse, it gets stolen. Without the 4 digit pin, you would be locked out of your Mac until you got your iPhone back.

I’ve tested out Keycard at home and it works great. I love how it unlocks before you’re actually at your desk because it doesn’t slow you down at all and disrupt your workflow. However, it would be nice to adjust what distance you need to be from your Mac in order for it to lock and unlock as some people may want to shrink that distance to only a few feet.

If you’ve been known to have your social networks “hacked” by your friends when you step away from your computer, you may not want to pass this one up.

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How to lock your mac when you’re away

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