Security should always be a priority when it comes to your Mac. In the past Mac owners have felt naturally safer because there wasn’t that many Macs out in the wild and quite frankly, thieves didn’t have much interest in them. Today is a different game with Macs becoming a mainstream part of the consumer and corporate landscape and thieves specifically targeting Macs, iPhones and iPads. In this How To I’m going to show you how to make your Mac more secure by requiring a password and displaying a Lock Screen message when your Mac is locked or booted up.
To start, go to System Preferences on your Mac and open up the Security & Privacy. Once it is open you will see several items which you can adjust to make your Mac more secure. First is the Require Password. You can set this up to require a password to access your Mac immediately, after a few seconds or up to 4 hours. I recommend setting this very low – 5 seconds to 1 minute – to lower the risk of a quick snatch of your Mac and someone gaining access to your data as they literally walk away with it. Whatever time you have this set up, it will go into effect when your display is turned off (part of the power settings), your screensaver starts, or you boot up/log into your account.
The next thing to do is setup a Lock Message. You’ll see below the Require Password setting a button Lock Message – click it to open up the Lock Message editor. What you put in here is entirely up to you. You can put something like your name, a contact phone number and if you will be rewarding anyone with the return of your Mac. I would discourage you from putting anything derogatory in the Lock Message on the outside chance that you may actually get it returned to you. Once you have composed the message that you like, it will immediately go into effect based on how long the Required Password timer is set.
Now that you have your Lock Message set and your Required Password timer, your Mac is that much more secure. While you are on the Security & Privacy settings, you can also Disable automatic logins by checking the box to do so which will require anyone who boots up your Mac to enter a password. Below that you can set up where apps can be downloaded from on your Mac – from the App Store only or anywhere. This is part of the Gatekeeper functionality built into Mountain Lion.
From this point forward, when you log in or when your screen is disabled as part of the Power settings you will see your Lock Message.
There is another great use for the Lock Message aside from the security implications I’ve outlined here. I work in a corporate environment where when I show up at a meeting in a large conference room, a full 75% of the room is usually full of MacBook Pros – the exact same 13″ model as mine. It is our corporate issued unit so naturally there are a lot of them around. How do you tell yours from others when you walk out of the room to get lunch for that working lunch meeting? With Lock Message you can make sure that when you return you actually return to your MacBook. Oh, and back to security – this also prevents co-workers with prying eyes from getting into your Mac.
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