Auto Unlock teaser 005

macOS Sierra debuted a new feature called Auto Unlock that lets you get into your Mac without typing your account password simply by wearing a passcode-protected Apple Watch. With Auto Unlock, you just wake up your Mac and if it senses you’re nearby and wearing your watch, it’ll log you in automatically. Yes, it just works!

Auto Unlock imposes certain hardware pre-requisites in terms of modern Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chipsets. Here’s how you can quickly check if your Mac supports Auto Unlock.

To confirm that your Mac can use Auto Unlock, do the following:

1) Choose About This Mac from the Apple menu.

2) Click the Overview tab, then click the System Report button.

macOS Sierra System Information Wi-Fi Auto Unlock screenshot 001

3) Select Wi-Fi in the sidebar, then look for Auto Unlock: Supported on the right.

If you see “Auto Unlock: Supported,” your Mac meets Auto Unlock hardware requirements. If not, you’re out of luck. As a rule of thumb, Mac models manufactured before 2013 cannot use Auto Unlock.

TUTORIAL: how to set up and use Auto Unlock

Before enabling Auto Unlock, be sure that your computer and watch are signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID and run macOS Sierra 10.12 or later and watchOS 3 or later, respectively. Your watch must be protected with a passcode and your macOS user account must use a password in order for Auto Unlock to work.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be turned on on both devices.

Another requirement: your Apple ID must use the modern Two-Factor Authentication rather than the older Two-Step Verification. If you need help enabling Two-Factor Authentication on your Apple ID or upgrading from Two-Step Verification to Two-Factor Authentication, consult our detailed tutorial.

macOS Sierra System Preferences Security and Privacy GEneral Auto Unlock screenshot 005

To enable Auto Unlock, tick the box next to ”Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac” in System Preferences → Security & Privacy → General.

You will need to manually type in your macOS account password the first time you log in after you turn your Mac on, restart or log out. After that, Apple Watch logs in for you.

For security purposes, Auto Unlock works only when your unlocked Apple Watch is a few inches away from your Mac. You shall receive a notification on your wrist every time Auto Unlock unlocks your Mac.

If your Mac is using Internet Sharing, Auto Unlock won’t work.

Do you use Auto Unlock?

  • XDavior lanz

    This looks nice but I prefer Microsoft’s hello sign in with the iris scanner.. Hope Apple does this in the future.

    • Fabian

      “Iris Scanner”

      • XDavior lanz

        I’m way too stupid to see what’s “lol” about that! Help?

  • malhal

    Worked once for me can’t get it to work again, just had the spinner that said looking for watch

  • My macbook retina 12 supports it, however it’s still very slow in response. Went to the Apple Store and watched them demo it on a new macbook pro and it was slow on there too. At first I thought it was because I had an Apple Watch 1, but then I switched to Apple Watch 2 and it makes no difference.. still seems slow. I’m hopeful they put a software update out sometime that speeds the process up.

  • mjoecups

    My 2008 MacBook pro seems to support this. I HAVE upgraded the WIFI hardware via Quickertech. This allows me to run Sierra. Pretty happy with the performance too!

  • puggsly

    This is one of the killer features for wearables, the total elimination of passwords for devices that can trust authenticated tokens. Now my phone via fingerprint unlocks my watch which unlocks my computer which unlocks my keychain which holds all of my other passwords.
    It may seem circular but it seems that once I authenticate my watch, ether with password or via my phone, my watch should unlock my phone. It is just a shame that only 2013+ systems can handle it. I’ll enjoy it once I upgrade to my next MacBook pro!

  • Joey

    My early 2013 retina mbp 13″ doesn’t support this 🙁

  • Why does Apple show this option if your machine is not compatible? the simplest solution would be to hide it if your machine is too old to support it no?