How to use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac

When Apple introduced the ability to unlock iPhones with an Apple Watch, it was a lifesaver for anyone wearing a mask during the pandemic. But the handy feature isn’t limited to your smartphone. You can also use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac and to securely approve app requests.

The feature is called Auto Unlock, and technically, it came to Macs long before Apple decided to apply it to iPhones. That said, you may not have heard of it if you’ve just bought a shiny new Apple Watch or are a recent convert to the Apple ecosystem.

Prepare your Mac

To get started, you’ll want to make sure all your devices are compatible. Your Mac should be a model from mid-2013 or later and running macOS Sierra at the very least. Here’s how you check to make sure:

Once you’re sure your Mac is compatible, there’s one more thing to do:

How to use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac

Set up your Watch

First, make sure you’re logged into iCloud using the same Apple ID on both your watch and Mac. If you don’t know how to do that, you can check out our guide here.

Next, check what version of watchOS you’re running. You can do this on your wrist:

Okay, now you’re ready to set up your Watch. If you’re running watchOS 6 or earlier:

If you’re running watchOS 7 or later, the steps are the same but there’s one additional requirement: make sure you’re using a passcode with your Apple Watch. You can do this in the Watch app on your iPhone under Passcode, or on your wrist under Settings.

Once all this is finished, you should be able to wake up your computer just by wearing your Apple Watch in its vicinity. No passwords needed!

Approve app requests

Users running watchOS 6 or later also have the option of approving app requests. (The feature will automatically be enabled when you enable Auto Unlock, so you don’t have to do anything extra.) This means that whenever an app requires authentication, you’ll just have to double-click the side button of your Apple Watch. This includes requests like unlocking preferences, viewing passwords, and approving app installations.

Some Apple Watch apps also make use of this feature. For example, you can use this in conjunction with 1Password.

Any problems?

If you’re having issues with the unlocking feature, here are some extra troubleshooting tips: