MacID’s ‘Tap to Unlock’ makes logging into your Mac even faster

By , Jan 9, 2016


Probably one of my most-used applications on my Mac is MacID, which I use on a daily basis to unlock my Mac without ever using the keyboard to enter a password. The application works in two ways – these include allowing you to use your iPhone or iPad’s Touch ID sensor to log into your Mac, or using a secret ‘Tap to Unlock’ gesture on the multi-touch trackpad (or Magic Trackpad/Magic Trackpad 2) to log into your Mac.

Both ways can save a ton of time, and reduce wear and tear on your keyboard, but in this tutorial, we’ll focus on how you can set up ‘Tap to Unlock’ in MacID on your Mac.

Setting up ‘Tap to Unlock’ on your Mac with MacID

Setting up Tap to Unlock with MacID requires that you have MacID installed on your Mac and your compatible iOS device. The OS X application is a free download from the developer’s Web site, but you’ll have to shell out $3.99 for the iOS application in order to download it from the App Store.

Once you have both applications installed and have paired the two devices over a Bluetooth connection, you can follow these simple steps to get MacID’s ‘Tap to Unlock’ feature working for you:

Step 1: Click on the MacID icon in your Mac’s menu bar to activate the drop down menu and navigate to Tap to Unlock > Setup.


Step 2: In the new window that pops up, position your mouse in the center of the virtual trackpad, and then using the multi-touch trackpad, make a tap sequence with multiple fingers at once, as many times as you would like.


Note: a tap sequence example might be tapping once with four fingers, then lifting up, then tapping once with two fingers, then lifting up, then tapping once with three fingers, then lifting up, and then tapping with one finger, then lifting up. All sequences will vary person-to-person.

Step 3: As you tap, your sequences are recorded in color so you can see them, take note of this sequence and don’t forget it.

Step 4: Once finished, click on the “Save” button to save your sequence, or click on the “Reset” button if you want to start over at step 1.

Configuring ‘Tap to Unlock’ even further

If you thought that would be the only thing you could do to set up ‘Tap to Unlock,’ then you’ll be excited to hear that you can actually configure it even further to your liking. Under the same Menu Bar option you just navigated to (MacID > Tap to Unlock > … ) you will see new options that you didn’t see before because the feature has already been set up.


The options you’ll find in the updated menu interface include the following:

  • Disabling and deleting your current ‘Tap to Unlock’ setup
  • Hiding or showing the taps that register on the Lock screen when you tap on the multi-touch trackpad
  • Only allowing ‘Tap to Unlock’ to unlock your Mac if your primary iOS device is connected via Bluetooth
  • Using the same sequence anywhere while your Mac is unlocked to lock your Mac

Now go try it

Once you’ve set up ‘Tap to Unlock,’ you should go ahead and lock your Mac and then make the same tap sequence on your multi-touch trackpad and make sure that it works. If it does, then you’re all set and you can keep using it to unlock your Mac, but if it doesn’t you may have to sign in with your regular password and try setting up the feature again.

You should notice when you get the sequence correct that your password will appear to automatically fill into the password field. This is normal – you give MacID your password in the beginning of setting it up and when you pass MacID’s verification process, it’ll give your Mac your password on demand.

What I recommend for the extra settings

I personally like to see the taps on my Lock screen when I’m using this feature because it helps me know whether or not the multi-touch trackpad fails to register one of my fingers when I tap, and it also gives me somewhat of a visual feedback, which is overall aesthetically-pleasing to see when interacting with my computer.

From a security standpoint, if you wanted this to remain completely incognito, you might opt to disable showing the taps so that no one around you will have any idea what you were just doing. Another tip from a security standpoint is to enable the “only unlock if primary iOS device is connected” option, because that way, anyone who does figure out your ‘Tap to Unlock’ sequence won’t be able to unlock your Mac with it while you’re away because your iOS device would need to be in close Bluetooth proximity.

As far as the last option, “tap pattern locks Mac” is concerned, I typically avoid this feature just in case I attempt to use a system gesture, or a series of system gestures, and MacID thinks I’m trying to lock the Mac instead. Call me O.C.D., but I just have a problem with any potential clashes between things that appear not to be idiot-proof. Others may actually enjoy using this feature because they’re more careful than I am.


MacID is compatible with a wide variety of Macs and iOS devices, but not all of them. A Touch ID-based iOS device is recommended, however not required, especially when you’re only using the application for ‘Tap to Unlock’ and not for unlocking your Mac with Touch ID.

The following Macs are supported:

  • MacBook 2015+
  • MacBook Air 2011+
  • MacBook Pro 2012+
  • Mac Mini 2011+
  • Mac Pro 2013+
  • iMac 2012+

And the following iOS devices are supported:

  • iPhone 4S and newer
  • iPad (4th gen)
  • iPad mini & iPad Air
  • iPod Touch (5th gen) and newer

Download MacID from the App Store.


MacID isn’t exactly the newest application for Macs and iOS devices, but it has definitely stood the test of time as I continue to use it on a regular daily basis, which is pretty rare to me considering I’m a minimalist and I typically hate using third-party resources to do what I can do with features out of the box.

The ‘Tap to Unlock’ feature is very desirable for people who don’t have the patience to wait for the Touch ID notification on their iOS devices, or for those that simply don’t have a Touch ID sensor; and best of all, it can be so much faster than typing a password every single time your Mac decides to fall asleep on you when you fall into a day dream or walk away for a few minutes.

If you haven’t already tried MacID, you’re missing out on a valuable app. I would recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already. Let us know in the comments below what your favorite part of using the ‘Tap to Unlock’ feature that comes with MacID is!

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  • Tim

    Would love to see the tap to unlock option without any phone connected. Don’t like the slurping bluetooth connection with my Apple Watch AND my Macbook too now.

    • Yeah bluetooth is so bad.

    • Asaf Fishkin

      You don’t really need your iPhone to be connected at all to use this feature. Your iPhone is needed just to unlock this feature (That’s how they make sure that you buy the app…).

      • Tim

        Found that out just now. Already bought the app like two years ago though when the connecting was still slow and shit. Tap to Unlock is quick and simple. 🙂

      • Asaf Fishkin

        Same here. Purchased it a year ago. Didn’t bond with it. After reading this article, I’ve decided to give it another try. The tap to unlock option Is really awesome.

  • Works perfectly, except the one thing that doesn’t make much sense is you have to keep the iOS app running in app switcher. It cannot be backgrounded at all or it will fail to connect to your macbook. The dev makes reference to this on their website. Don’t make much sense to keep that open, when there’s the option in IOS to background applications. Unless that doesn’t work with bluetooth data sharing, not aware of that. Either way it’s a pretty cool application, I’ll continue to use it though I don’t see it being exactly faster then typing in a password… I can’t see me leaving the application open all the time either.

    • Kane Cheshire

      Hi Tony,

      I’m Kane, MacID’s developer. Bluetooth apps don’t run in the background if you close them, iOS shuts off any connections for the app and stops advertising for it on the app’s behalf. The only apps that can keep running properly when you close them are location based apps, and even then that’s only since iOS 7.1 I believe.

      Here’s a bit more info on how background Bluetooth apps work on iOS:

      – When you press the home button or change to another app, the Bluetooth app goes into a suspended state (like all other apps) and iOS takes over maintaining the connection or advertising the app’s service
      – When iOS detects data transfer or a connection attempt it briefly resumes the app and gives it the data, after that the app is suspended again and iOS takes over
      – If the system needs the memory iOS will completely terminate the app and remove it from memory, but again keep maintaining connection and advertising. When data transfer happens the app has an opportunity to restore itself and then do something with the data, it’ll then go back into a suspended state until iOS needs the memory for something else.
      – If you close the app from the switcher then you’re basically telling iOS “I don’t want this app to continue advertising in the background so please kill it permanently until I open it again”. I don’t fully understand why Apple haven’t enforced that for location apps but there we are!

      So as you can see, most of the time apps aren’t doing anything even if they’re in the app switcher, iOS will terminate anything if it needs the RAM. What you’re seeing in the switcher is basically just a screenshot of the app when it was suspended.

      Hope this helps shed some light!

      • Ricky

        Forgive me if im wron, but i used”knock” apps similar to yours while basically used tap instead of touch id. I always terminate the app from the app switcher but keep the bluetooth on. My mac keeps connected to my ipad and so does the app on my mac BUT not on the ipad. And with that, i can “knock” on my ipad to unlock my mac without opening the app on the ipad. Forgive me if im wrong, im not a developer or anything but what im trying to say is that the “knock” app is able to work without opening the app. Might want to check that out. Thanks

      • Kane Cheshire

        Knock uses location services, which is why the little location services icon is always present when you use Knock 🙂

        They use it to help keep the app awake to properly record knocks, and it works well for them. Apple would reject MacID for using location services in the background unless it has a purpose, and at the moment there isn’t a reason for it other than to keep the app alive. I may add location based features in the future but at the moment there’s no plans to.

      • Ricky

        Right. Thanks for the insight. I will give yours a shot hahaha

      • What Bluetooth LE adapter for Mac will work with MacID for older MacBook Pro 2010 ?

  • Hotrod

    check to see if it’s been updated, when this first came out I used the tap to unlock feature and I had a combination of five taps in different areas of the trackpad and then I later learned that if I just simply tap the trackpad in five spots in the same place it would unlock it, so it made me feel like it was too easy to unlock

    • Kane Cheshire

      It’s not the location of the taps that matter it’s the amount of fingers. 5 single taps will always unlock no matter where you tap them, you should add different combinations of fingers, so first tap 1 finger, second tap 3 fingers, third tap 5 fingers.

  • I think he was being tongue in cheek

    • Jerry

      Haha it was pretty funny.

      • Anthony Bouchard

        🙂 The true benefit is the speed and convenience, but it’s just a funny additional perk to toss in the air.

      • Jerry

        Lol wish I could do this on my Windows.

  • Alex Graham

    It’s a good app. Use it daily. Always have Bluetooth problems but that’s probably cause I’m not following the instructions correctly

    • Kane Cheshire

      It’s probably not your fault Alex, Bluetooth APIs are really finicky on OS X which is why many apps have mostly good reviews but some really bad ones too. Makes me happy to hear you persevere with it though 🙂

    • Anthony Bouchard

      Apple’s Bluetooth is flaky at times – many Bluetooth developers have complained about its unreliability when it comes to using it for apps.

  • James G

    Love this app. Even impressed my boss’s boss’s boss when he saw me walk up to my computer at work and it just turned on, recognizing I was close.

  • Bass Head

    this is what I’ve been using very good app. worth the money. time saver

    • Anthony Bouchard


  • Bob Forsberg

    Unlock a Mac? Never locked one in 27 years. You people need a better home or work environment.

    • Blip dude

      This is the case with me as well. Yes, I have stuff on my Mac that is definitely NSFW and everyone knows about it, and I got no shame in it either. Yet guess what, no one snoops around my files trying to find answers they probably won’t want in the end.

  • iPad 3rd Gen is also supported.

    Developer is aware of this yet has yet to update compatible device list to reflect this.

    • Anthony Bouchard

      Thank you for the insight.

    • Kane Cheshire

      Oops you’re right I’ve been meaning to do this but I forgot last update, next update I push out I’ll change it all. Thanks again!

  • ready1take1

    wow…i’m enjoying this a lot more than i thought i would

  • ready1take1

    Holy Crap! For those of us who don’t always use the trackpad…this works on the Magic Mouse 2 as well! This keeps getting better.