How to Auto Unlock a Mac with Apple Watch (MacOS Sierra Update)

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After Apple’s Keynote revealing iOS 10, Watch OS 3 and more, September 20th saw the release of the new version of Apple operating system, which has now evolved from OS X into MacOS, and the first iteration is named Sierra.

Among the several new features in MacOS Sierra (discussed in another post), my own personal favorite is the Apple Watch auto unlock feature for Macs and here is a short guide for those of you who have both a Mac and an Apple Watch, and can’t wait to try it.

Apple Watch Auto Unlock Compatibility

In order to use the Apple Watch to auto unlock your Mac, all your hardware and software needs to be compatible. Starting off, you will need a 2013 Mac or newer, the older ones are not compatible for this.

Similarly, you need an Apple Watch, but it doesn’t have to be the 2nd generation model, even the 1st generation works just fine.

On the software front you need your Mac to be running the latest – MacOS Sierra and the Apple watch to be running Watch OS3 (in case you haven’t updated your watch to Watch OS3, you’ll need to update your iPhone to iOS 10 first).

Setting up Apple Watch’s Auto Unlock

Once all hardware and software is in order, setting up auto unlock is very easy. Just go to your Mac’s settings and then open up the security & privacy window.

Settings > Security & Privacy > General > Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac

Checking the option at the end will give you a small message while the request is bring processed and once it’s done, the checkbox will turn blue as shown below.

Apple Watch Auto Unlock Mac

Apple Watch Auto Unlock Not Working

In the start when I tried the auto unlock feature it didn’t work. If you run into any issues you need to make sure you have enabled two factor authentication for your Apple ID via the Apple ID page.

Even then, a lot of times I was getting the following error “make sure your apple watch is unlocked and powered on” when I tried enabling the auto unlock feature. This seemed like a temporary issue, but just to make sure all is in order, connect your Mac and iPhone to the same Wifi network and have bluetooth enabled on your devices. Another requirement is that your Apple Watch should have an active passcode in order for the feature to work.

After a couple tries I disconnected both my iPhone and Mac from the internet and reconnected, which seemed to resolve the issue. After that it was a smooth set up and worked how it is supposed to.

Apple Watch Auto Unlock Feature

How secure is Apple Watch’s Auto Unlock Feature?

Naturally people are curious about the safety of Apple Watch’s auto unlock feature and the company has put a lot of thought into security. According to Apple executives, the watch can’t be used as a broadcaster which can be boosted and then remotely used to unlock someone’s Mac. Apparently the tech measures the time between signal reception and origination to ensure legit unlocks.

What do you guys think of this new auto unlock feature for your Mac? Is it going to be a convenience or more of a gimmick? What about a scenario where you are having a meeting in another room, but are close enough for your Mac to be unlocked automatically by someone else? Good thing is you get a notification on your Apple Watch whenever your Mac is unlocked by it! Let us know your thoughts via the comments below.

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