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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Wish List: Auto-locking with the Apple Watch

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

I’ve been using the macOS Sierra and watchOS 3 betas for a week or two now, and I’ve enjoyed the new Auto Unlock feature that lets your Apple Watch log you into your Mac without entering your password. It’s great, but it made me wish for a feature that takes it a step further.

Auto Unlock
Most assuredly not me at the coffee shop.

As someone who takes their Mac out to the local coffee shop pretty much daily, I often end up in a position where I have to get up and walk away from my computer, whether it be to fetch a cup of tea, dispose of empty dishes, or grab some water. Usually I manually put my MacBook Air’s display to sleep before I get up, both to ensure the privacy of my computer, as well as to make sure that should someone try to walk away with it, the computer will be locked and more or less useless to would-be thieves1.

But as long as we’re using the Watch as an authenticated token, it would be pretty cool if its proximity to the Mac could be used to automatically detect when you walk away and thus trigger the computer to lock. That would ensure your computer remains secure when you’re not in front of it.

Of course, you probably walk away from your computer a lot when you’re at home, and you’re likely less worried about security there, which might make this feature more annoying. I see a couple of potential fixes to that, including something like the ability to set a geofence-like radius or, on the more involved side, a location-based security system.

Auto Unlock is a nice step down the path of leveraging the multiple Apple devices that many of us have to provide better multi-factor security. Here’s hoping it doesn’t stop there.

  1. As a note, I want to say I love my local coffee shop, and in the years that I’ve been going to it and its sibling cafés, I’ve never once so much as heard about anybody having stuff stolen. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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