Quickly Lock Your Screen: Mac OS X

By | 06/05/2009

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.

One thought on “Quickly Lock Your Screen: Mac OS X

  1. rww

    I'm not a huge fan of hot corners, so I (used to, when I used OSX) use the setting in Keychain Access to show an icon in the menu bar instead. There's an option when you click the icon to lock the screen. Two clicks to lock the screen isn't as good as a keyboard shortcut, but it was good enough (and didn't activate when I flailed my mouse wildly, unlike hot corners).

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