ARCHIVED: In Mac OS X, how do I password-protect my computer?

This content has been archived, and is no longer maintained by Indiana University. Resources linked from this page may no longer be available or reliable.

Because Mac OS X is based on Unix, it provides native support for a password-protected, multiple-user environment. By default, you are required to create a single user account with a password. If you have only one user account created, your computer will not prompt you for a password when your computer starts. However, you may secure your computer with a password as follows:

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences....
  2. From the View menu, select Users & Groups (Mac OS X 10.7) or Accounts (Mac OS X 10.6 and earlier).
  3. In Mac OS X 10.5 and later, at the bottom of the left panel, click Login Options. In the right panel next to "Automatic login:", select Off or Disabled from the pull-down menu. If Login Options is grayed out, click the padlock icon in the bottom of the preference window, and then authenticate to log into your account.

    In Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.3, at the bottom of the left panel, click Login Options, and in the right panel, uncheck Automatically log in as:. If Login Options is grayed out, click the padlock icon in the bottom of the preference window, and then authenticate to log into your account.

When starting your computer, you will have to authenticate to access your account. You may also log out of your computer without restarting. From the Apple menu, select Log out....

Locking your screen

Mac OS X also allows you to lock your screen when the screen saver becomes active. You will then have to enter your password to regain access to your computer. To activate this feature:

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences....
  2. From the View menu, select Security & Privacy (10.7) or Security (10.6 and earlier).
  3. In 10.7 or 10.6, under the General tab, check Require password... after sleep or screen saver begins, and then choose how long the computer can be asleep, or the screen saver active, before a password is required.

    In 10.5 or 10.4, check Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver.

To add an item to your menu bar that allows you to quickly lock the screen and turn on the screen saver:

  1. From your Applications folder, open your Utilities folder, and then open Keychain Access.
  2. From the Keychain Access menu, select Preferences.... Under the General tab, check Show keychain status in menu bar (10.7) or Show Status in Menu Bar (10.6 and earlier).
  3. The padlock icon will appear in your menu bar in the upper right corner of your screen. To lock your screen, click this icon, and then from the menu that appears, select Lock Screen.

This is document ajqx in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 13:04:37.

Contact us

For help or to comment, email the UITS Support Center.