Lock Your Screen: The Fun Way To Protect Your Mac

Security is something that Macs do well even out of the box. Most users never have to bother much with adjusting their settings to keep their Mac safe and that is one of the reasons Macs are especially appealing to those who can’t wrap their brains around complex security measures.

That luxury, though, often makes people forget that even the simplest measures can already do a lot of good, for example locking the screen of your Mac when you’re not using it. While the standard tools of Mac OS do a good job at that, you can tune the simple command up with Lock Your Screen. We’ll take a look at what the app can do for you.

Should You Lock Your Screen?

Some of you might wonder why you should be locking your screen at all. If your Mac sits only in your living room, accessible by only you or people you trust, that question is understandable. But if you own a MacBook or work on a Mac in an office or public place, you should always take steps to protect your privacy and data.

The very simplest way is to simply lock your screen when you leave by assigning a Hot Corner action. In OS X Lion, simply access the System Preferences and enter Mission Control. Easy to overlook, the button you need hovers on the bottom left. Choose a corner and assign it the action “Put Display to Sleep”. After that, ensure that in the Security Settings, a password is required to access your Mac after the screensaver is turned off.

Your Mac already provides basic security settings for locking your screen

Your Mac already provides basic security settings for locking your screen

Those are the most basic settings which work on every Mac, no extra tools required. You can set this up in a matter of seconds and should if any of the above scenarios reflect your usage.

Lock Your Screen – Add Security

Now, if all you want is simply a locked screen, the above method will be fine for you. But what if you could put some extra information on that locked screen?

For everyone not versed in terminal commands and scripting, there is a nifty little tool called Lock Your Screen, available in the Mac App Store, that can do just that for you.

Don’t be put off by it’s rather ugly user interface, which doesn’t at all suggest a Mac app. Once you see beyond that, there’s quite a lot to discover. Actually, there are so many options, I will only cover the most interesting ones.

Basically, Lock Your Screen prevents anyone from using your Mac until a security protocol has been completed. There are several options for said protocol:

Choose among different security settings

Choose among different security settings

You can go with a simple password, which you’ll have to type to get control over your Mac back. But the fun options are the Magic Lock and the Dot Match Lock.

In both instances, you have to trace a pattern on a tiled or dotted background to unlock the screen. You set the pattern in the settings of the app and then in the locked screen will be presented with an area to draw in.

Different grids to draw your access code on - literally.

Different grids to draw your access code on - literally.

The small dots on the bottom of the drawing area indicate how many tries you have until you have to enter your password to confirm access.

Tune the Looks & Add Information

The added security is just one option worth exploring. The fun starts when you customize your desktop. You can either use one of the provided images (they are more or less the same that come with OS X Lion), one from your own library or the default image.

Using the default image has the benefit that the background actually changes depending on the time of the day. In the morning it’s a beautiful landscape just coming to life; in the evening you can see an astonishing sunset.

The default wallpaper adjusts throughout the day

The default wallpaper adjusts throughout the day

Hint: Lock Your Screen works fine with a two-screen setup, but the wallpaper only changes with the time on the main screen. The second screen stays with the standard setting.

The next options to consider are weather and time. You have eight different styles to choose from. The weather and time settings can be set either to Fahrenheit/12 hour format or to the 24hr/Celsius format used in Europe, for example.

Add weather and time information to your locked screen

Add weather and time information to your locked screen

The next options I consider to be the fun features. Well, seeing if you have unread mail is actually pretty useful. But enabling a photo slideshow or the player for iTunes songs as well as settings sounds for the lock/unlock motion are not necessary, but entertaining nonetheless.

Display even more information through the Utilities section

Display even more information through the Utilities section

And of course there are very basic settings, like opening the app at login or have your Mac locked during sleep or the screensaver. You can also assign a hotkey to trigger the lock, which I like best because I’m used to that from the PC I have to work with in the office.


It has to be understood that Lock Your Screen is just an app that makes your locked Mac look prettier and provides some information which your screensaver can’t. It is by no means a barrier that will hold up someone determined to get to your data since it doesn’t tie in with the Mac’s own security protocols.

That being said, Lock Your Screen still is lot of fun to use and I myself find it quite useful to access iTunes without having to unlock my Mac and to see if there are any emails demanding my attention.


Lock your Mac's screen and have it display any information from weather and time to unread mails and an iTunes controller.