How to Lock your Mac with a Keyboard Shortcut

One irritation that people who switch to Mac from Windows find is that there isn’t a quick way to lock your screen. Enter LockTight.

LockTight originated as “SleepTight”, but neither were available for Intel Macs, until Ben Haylock built an Intel compatible version. To install LockTight, download and then uncompress it. Inside the LockTightIntel folder you’ll find two sub-folders – LockTight-0.1 Intel and LockTight-0.1 PPC. Inside the LockTight-0.1 Intel folder (presuming you have an Intel-based Mac), double click LockTight.prefPane.

This will install LockTight as a System Preference. Initially you’ll be presented with a ‘warning’ window, explaining that some combination of Mac models and screensavers can cause serious problems (Note: it also references “SleepTight” in the warning, so I’m not 100% sure this problem applies to LockTight. I tried every default screensaver installed on my Mac, running Leopard, and couldn’t find any problems).

After you click OK to the warning, the settings window for LockTight will open. Make sure that Enable LockTight is checked, and then click the Configure Hot Key button to change the default key-combination of Apple Key+Alt+Shift+L if you wish (I prefer the default, but whatever floats your boat).

If you already have your Mac set to require you to enter your password after the screensaver starts, you’re done. Hit the key-combination that you set to lock your screen, and the screensaver will automatically kick in. Now you can lock your Mac with a simple keyboard-combo.

If you need to set your Mac to require a password to return from the screensaver, return to the main System Preferences window and select Security.

From the General tab, place a check in the box labeled Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver.

If you have Automatic Login enabled, you’ll be prompted to disable it (otherwise someone could access your Mac but just powering it off and on again).

Now you should have both Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver and Disable automatic login checked. Close out of the System Preferences.

Hit the keyboard combo you set back in step #3. Your screensaver should immediately kick in, and require your password unlock your Mac.

Comments [12]

  1. Or you can go into your Exposé settings to assign your screen saver to one of your hot corners. Then, whenever you move your mouse to the designated corner, your screen saver kicks in. If you don't it to go to screen saver, then just shorten the time of it before sleep mode kicks in. MUCH easier than installing a new program just to do the same thing.

    I don't understand why there are so many useless and redundant programs.

  2. p. –

    Absolutely fair alternatives. For me, they don't really work though, and here's why. I constantly activate hot corners when I don't intend to. Having to enter my password each time I accidentally launch the screen saver would drive me nuts. Also, I often step away from my mac for a minute or two, and don't want to have the password protected screen saver kick in every time. So for me, the keyboard shortcut is absolutely ideal.

    Plus, for folks running tiger (no Expose), it can come in handy.



  3. Good idea but I agree with p, it is a little redundant.

    –Ross, I am still running tiger on my macbook and expose does work. In fact, the top left corner is currently set to turn on my screen saver.

  4. I'm with Ross on this one, I disabled hot corners because I constantly activate them accidentally. It's too easy to accidentally have a password lock activate simply by moving your mouse to a corner. The solution is for Apple to provide a keyboard shortcut out of the box, the same way Windows does

  5. Hi,

    I tried the lock tight on my MAC however while doing this I some how pressed some shortcut key and all the tabs have replicated or has a created shortcuts by itself – i.e I see shutdown, logout, forcequit, and all other options twice in my tab.

    Can some one tell me how to delete or clear those replicatons.


  6. For those of you who are accidentally activating the screensaver when you move the mouse into a corner, you can go into System Preferences –> Security under the General tab and define how long you want after the screensaver begins before the password required. You could set it such that you have anywhere from 5 seconds to a minute (or longer) before the password is required after the screensaver has started. This will solve your problem of accidentally activating the screensaver and having to enter in your password.

    Using Expose' (provided you're running a newer version of OS X that has it) and setting up an active screen corner is actually a very elegant solution for those wanting to lock their Macs quickly and securely. I'm sure there are others that are great solutions as well. This just happens to be what works for me.

    I hope this helps.

  7. …or you could set the same security settings and just press comand-shift-eject to make the mac sleep, then just enter your password to open it ?

  8. For every page like this it only adds weight to my argument that macs are horrible…

  9. Go to –>System preference
    –> security
    –>select first option

  10. You guys should check out QuickLock to lock your Mac with. It locks with any desired keyboard shortcut, it’s beautiful, and it’s completely and totally customizable.

    Best of all it’s free.

    Check it out here:

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