We all know how important it is to set your Mac to automatically lock when you are away from it for any period of time. It’s not just that you might not want your work colleagues spying on what you were doing, but also because our Macs have a lot of personal stored information on them including passwords and login details. If you don’t want to have to enter your password every time you return after stepping away from your Mac for a few minutes what can you do?

If you have an Apple Watch you can set your Mac to automatically unlock whenever you are nearby. If you have a relatively new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air you will have a Touch ID pad beside the keyboard. These are handy ways to quickly unlock your Mac. But what if you don’t have an Apple Watch or a Touch ID pad on your Mac. Can you use your iPhone to unlock your Mac?

Yes, you can use unlock Mac with an iPhone, but you will require a third-party app. For some reason Apple hasn’t yet made it possible to unlock a Mac when an iPhone is near with its own software, but there are apps available on the App Store which can enable the feature.

We’ll start of by explaining how to use a free iPhone app to unlock your Mac with Face ID or Touch ID, before discussing some other paid for options.

How to unlock Mac with iPhone for free

It’s entirely possible that Apple will eventually build the ability to unlock your Mac with your iPhone into the next version of iOS and macOS, but for now there are lots of apps on the iOS App Store offering to enable the feature for you.

Amidst those apps is a free option. We say free, but you do have to pay for the Pro version of the app and the extra features offered by it. But we’ve used the free version and it does unlock our Mac, which is all we really need it for.

Here’s how to use Near Lock to unlock your Mac with your iPhone:

Near Lock

Free version, Pro version: £3.99/$3.99

Download Near Lock for iOS here, Mac version is here.

With this app you can use Touch ID or Face ID on your iPhone to unlock your Mac. It will also unlock or lock your Mac depending on your iPhone’s proximity to the Mac. Here's how to use it:

  1. Download the iPhone app from the App Store.
  2. Download the Mac version of the app from the developer's website (here).
  3. Install the app on both devices.
  4. Open the app on your iPhone and Mac and pair the devices. Ignore the warning on your Mac about clearing Bluetooth cache and click on Add New Device. unlock mac with iphone
  5. You will see a message that you iPhone wants to connect. Click on Accept.
  6. You will see a message that the devices are connected and an indication of the distance between your iPhone and Mac - this is significant as you can change the settings to make the Mac lock or unlock depending on your iPhone’s proximity. You will be able to do this, and more if you click on Setup in the left-hand column. Unlock Mac with iPhone proximity
  7. But before you adjust Near Lock’s settings you will need to change your Mac’s security settings to allow Near Lock to unlock your Mac. Go to Systems Preferences > Security & Privacy > Accessibility and click on the padlock and enter your password. Then check the box beside Near Lock. You’ll see a warning about Near Lock wanting to control System Events - click OK. Change settings
  8. Now to the Set Up options for Near Lock. Click on Setup and tick the boxes that appeal.
  9. We enabled Proximity Lock. By default it is 1m, but you can change this to more than that. You have the option to lock the Mac when the iPhone leaves the proximity lock radius and unlock the Mac when the iPhone enters the proximity radius. Unlock Mac with iPhone settings
  10. You can also choose to have the Mac go to sleep or the screensaver come on when locked.
  11. There are also unlocking options including: Double Knock, Touch ID or Face ID, or a notification.

Now when we move our iPhone more than a meter away from our Mac the Mac locks. Then as we move back into closer proximity we can unlock our Mac just by looking at our iPhone.

Unlock Mac iPhone

Other iPhone apps that will unlock your Mac

There are other apps that will allow your to unlock your Mac suing Face ID or Touch ID on your phone. Here are a few:

Unlox

£3.99/$3.99 (there is a bundle offer that means you can get both Unlox and MacID for £3.99/$3.99).

Download here.

Unlox is by the same developer as MacID, included below. This app will allow you to unlock your Mac using Face ID.

MacID

£3.99/$3.99 (there is a bundle offer that means you can get both Unlox and MacID for £3.99/$3.99).

Download here.

This is app will lets you unlock and lock your Mac using Touch ID. As we mentioned above, there is a second app by the same developer that works with Face ID.

In both cases the accompanying Mac app is free.
One of the additional features is the ability to play the music on your Mac on your Watch or iPhone.

Knock

$5.99/£5.99

Download here.

This is more expensive that the other options but it allows you to simply knock the screen of your iPhone to unlock your Mac - crucially the iPhone could still be in your pocket!

Apple Watch

Of course if you have an Apple Watch you can use that to unlock your Mac, we show you how to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch here.