How to Unlock a Mac Keyboard

By Elizabeth Mott

Lock your keyboard for security and privacy.
i David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Protecting confidential company information and personally identifiable details about your employees means securing your Apple Macintosh computer from prying eyes. If an employee or visitor comes to your desk while you're working, you can use the "Cmd-Tab" keyboard shortcut to switch your screen to another application, away from sensitive information. To protect your privacy when you're away from your desk without shutting down your computer or logging out of your user account, lock your keyboard and make it unlock only for you.


Open the Apple menu and choose "System Preferences." Locate the Personal category, which occupies the top row in the System Preferences window, and click on the "Security & Privacy" item. In the General tab, activate the check box in front of the preference that requires a password to wake your computer.

Click on the "Show All" button at the top of the Security & Privacy preference pane to return to the main System Preferences screen. Click on the "Desktop & Screen Saver" item in the Personal section.

Select the Screen Saver tab of the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane. Click on the "Hot Corners" button at the bottom left corner of the pane.

Decide which of the four corners of your screen will become the hot corner that triggers your screen saver to appear. Open the drop-down menu that corresponds to your chosen corner and choose "Start Screen Saver." Click on the "OK" button to return to the Desktop & Screen Saver pane.

Click on a screen saver category in the list on the left side of the pane. The preview of the screen saver displays on the right side of the pane. To choose an image of your own, expand "Pictures" to select an image it contains -- your company logo, for example. Use the slider at the bottom of the preference pane to set how much time must elapse between your last key press or pointing-device movement and before the screen saver appears. Press "Cmd-Q" to quit System Preferences when you're satisfied with your setup.

Operation and Unlocking

Move your cursor to the hot corner you selected as the screen-saver trigger. The screen saver appears without waiting for a timed interval to elapse.

Press a key on your keyboard when you return to your desk. A dialog box appears, requiring that you type your password into an entry field below a field that already displays your user name.

Type your password and press the "OK" button to regain access to your computer.


If you are a registered admin user among your company's Macs, you can unlock an employee's password-protected screen saver by pressing "Option-Return" and entering your user name and password in the dialog box that appears.


Password-protected keyboard security offers a deterrent, not an absolute protection, against busybodies.

Don't write down your password on a scrap of paper and leave it in a desk drawer where snoopers can find it.