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Quickly Lock Your Screen: Mac OS X


I’ve been using my Mac more and more while I’m at work these days and one of the things that I quickly started to miss was the Linux keyboard shortcut for locking your screen (ctrl-alt-l) when you’re going to be away from your desk. The first few times I simply resigned myself to trust my office mate, but that wasn’t going to cut it long-term. I set out to find a solution to locking my screen while I was going to be away from my Mac. This is what I found.

There are actually a number of solutions that I found. Some require third-party software. Others require creating dock icons to launch command-line tools. The solution I came up with requires no third-party software, custom dock icons or arthritis-inducing keyboard shortcuts. This uses easily configurable options that can also easily be undone if desired. I used Hot Corners.

If you’re not familiar with Hot Corners, it is the ability to use your mouse and the four corners of your desktop to achieve additional functionality. I use my upper-right hand corner to launch Spaces. The lower-right for Expose (All Windows). I’ve now added the lower-left to launch my Screensaver. By configuring my machine to activate the screensaver when the mouse is in the lower-left corner of the screen I am easily able to lock my screen when I need to be away from the computer. I simply drag the mouse down, screensaver turns on (which requires a password to unlock, of course) and I’m golden.

To activate this feature, do the following:

  1. Click Apple > System Preferences > Desktop and Screensaver
  2. In the lower left corner of that window you’ll find a button that says “Hot Corners”. Select that and then select one of the four corners to “Start Screensaver”.

As I mentioned before, there are other solutions to this problem, but this is the solution that I found the least complicated or difficult to setup. Do you have another solution that you consider easier? Let us know in the comments.

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