Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why You’ll Love The Mac Screen Padlock Tool That Apple Should Build Into OS X

You know what the pros say about computer security, right? ‘You can never have enough.‘ Out of the box, OS X brings relative security, with the most frequent breaches occurring from user neglect. Step away from your Mac for a few minutes and it’s an open door for anyone nearby. So, it pays to log out of your Mac when you step away.

Or, add the Padlock app to your Mac. It starts the screen saver with a simple keyboard shortcut and locks down your Mac. Locking happens one of two ways and uses a different global keyboard shortcut.

Or, just click the setting in the Menubar before you step away from your Mac.


The built-in Security Assistant also checks your Mac’s basic security settings and will notify if something needs to be adjusted. It monitors security settings and gives you an alert if they’re altered by anyone except you.

This isn’t an all inclusive security option, though. It’s based more upon convenience for the Mac user, and puts a couple of speed bumps in front of a would-be intruder. And it’s priced accordingly, though there’s no reason why Apple can’t put something similar into OS X.

Padlock doesn’t do anything for remote hackers, but that kind of unauthorized access occurs far less than drive-by intruders (actually, they probably walk by, sit down at your desk while you’re gone).

Similar and free is Lock Me Now which puts a quick screen lock in the Menubar.


  1. winc says

    I just hate articles about apps that duplicate built in options especially if you have to pay for them.
    Open Keychain Access. Then open its preferences and then select show Keychain Status in the Menu Bar. That gives you a padlock in the menubar. When you are going to leave, just use it to select Lock Screen.

    • signet says

      Response to Kasim thinking that this Padlock program is easer than toggling a preference in Keychain App

      Steps to use Padlock:
      1. Launch AppStore.
      2. Search for App called Padlock (since the author of the article did not include a link)
      3. click the $2.99 price tag on the app listing.
      4. click the same spot again, which now says BuyNow
      5. enter your AppleStore password
      6. run the program
      7. Ever after, click on the padlock in your menu bar to lock your screen.

      Steps to use the free Keychain preference that comes with the OS.
      1. Launch /Applications/Utilities/Keychain Access (takes one more click than launching the AppStore)
      2. Select the menu option Keychain Access>Preferences… (or type cmd-, )
      3. check the box that reads, “Show keychain status in menu bar
      4. Ever after, click on the padlock in your menu bar to lock your screen.

      5? Go spend $2.99 on a bag of jelly beans and reward yourself.

  2. winc says

    I just described how to turn it on After that there is a padlock in the menu bar. Easier than installing a new app. Using it is exactly the same. Why junk up your computer with code you don’t need.

  3. wallflower says

    Hmmm. The keychain doesn’t have any keyboard shortcuts. Remove hands from keyboard. Move to mouse or trackpad. Move screen pointer to Menubar, select Lock Screen.

    Or, just use the keyboard shortcuts in Padlock. Easy peazy.

  4. James Thompson says

    Does the Keychain check security settings? I couldn’t find that setting. I’m betting that most Mac users have no clue where their Keychain app resides (it’s in the Applications > Utilities folder).

  5. The Macinator says

    Be careful when using Keychain. Apple’s Support site has a long list of Mac users who monkeyed around with Keychain and got completely locked out. Keychain is needed for passwords, but any other usage is flirting with danger.

  6. LaFong says

    Or, easiest of all (for me):
    1) Enable “Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins” in the General tab of the Security & Privacy system preference panel.
    2) Hit Ctl-Shift-Eject to start the screensaver in lock mode.