Security is an unfortunate necessity when using technology these days. A huge amount of personal information is accessible via our Macs, iPhones, and iPads, so it's essential that we keep them secure even if only leaving them unattended for a minute or two.

The easiest way to do this is simply to lock the screen if you're stepping away to answer a phone call, catching your colleague to talk about that important meeting, or asking the trustworthy journalist working at the table next to you in a coffee shop to watch your Mac while you nip to the toilet.

Here are the quickest ways to secure your Mac with hardly any effort at all.

Checking your password settings

Before beginning it's a good idea to ensure that the settings on your Mac require a password immediately after entering sleep or screensaver mode. This is just an extra layer of security to keep any interlopers at bay.

It's a straightforward fix that requires you to open System Preferences > Security & Privacy then tick the box marked Require password. Next to this is a dropdown menu with various time options such as 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, and so on. The one you want is Immediately.

You may be asked to enter your password to confirm this change, which is perfectly normal.

How to lock a Mac: Security & Privacy

Lock the screen using shortcut keys

By far the easiest method is to simply use a key combination. This will instantly revert macOS to the lock screen and require your password to be entered to gain entry once more.

To achieve this shields-up scenario all you need to do is press CTRL + CMD + Q and you'll immediately be transported to the lock screen. Try not to accidentally hit CMD + Q instead, as this will shut down the application you're currently using, which could be disastrous if you haven't saved whatever it is you're working on.

Lock the screen using the Apple menu option

If you'd rather not risk shutting down your application by accident, or prefer to use your trackpad or mouse, then there's another equally simple way to lock the display by using the menu bar.

Navigate the cursor to the top-left of the screen and click on the Apple logo. From the drop-down menu that appears you'll see an option to Lock Screen. Click this and your Mac will be secure until you re-enter the password.

How to lock a Mac: Apple menu

Lock the screen using Hot Corners

Another way to instantly trigger macOS going to the lock screen is by using its 'Hot Corners' feature. This allows you to set a certain corner of the screen, which then acts as a command when you drag your cursor there. It's obviously best to use one that you don't find you're heading towards with your mouse or trackpad too frequently, as it could become quite annoying.

To set it up, open System Preferences and navigate to Desktop & Screen Saver > Screen Saver and click on the Hot Corners button in the bottom-right corner of the window.

How to lock a Mac: Hot Corners

This will open a panel where you can click on a drop-down menu for each corner and decide what action it will trigger. Select the one you want to use, then click on the Lock Screen option.

How to lock a Mac: Set up Hot Corners

Now, whenever you place the cursor in that corner your Mac will automatically go back to the lock screen, keeping your data safe from nosey workmates or worse.

For more ways to protect your privacy, read Mac security tips and How to stop your Mac being hacked.