6 Ways to Fix Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Issue

Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac

Auto Unlock is one of the many “Apple Continuity” features. It automatically unlocks a Mac when wearing an Apple Watch without requiring to type in the password. When it works properly, the feature is magical.

Apple has a complex system in place to make Auto Unlock possible, but unfortunately it can sometimes malfunction. If you’ve been experiencing issues yourself, here’s what you can do if your Apple Watch won’t unlock your Mac.

Apple Watch Auto Unlock Requirements

Before trying any fixes, first make sure you fulfill this list of requirements.

  • Your Mac should be a mid-2013 or newer model running macOS Sierra or later.
  • Your Apple Watch should be running WatchOS 3 or later.
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on both your Mac and Apple Watch.
  • You should be signed in iCloud using the same Apple ID on both Mac and Apple Watch.
  • Your Apple ID should have two-factor authentication enabled.
  • You’ve have set a login password on your Mac and Passcode on your Apple Watch.

On top of all of that, make sure you are nearby your Mac when you attempt to use Auto Unlock. Also note that if you restart your Mac, you’ll still be required to input your password.

Anyway, as long as you fulfill the above requirements, Auto Unlock should work just fine. If it is still not working, try the below fixes.

1. Disable Auto Unlock and Enable It Again

The first fix you should try is to disable Auto Unlock and enable it again.

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the top right corner of your Mac.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Apple Logo
  1. From Apple menu options, choose “System Preferences.” You can also open it from the launchpad, or by doing a Spotlight search.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac System Preferences
  1. Next up, select “Security & Privacy.”
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac System Preferences
  1. Under “Security & Privacy” preferences, you should be in the “General” tab. If not, tap on the “General” tab at the top to get there.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Disable Auto Unlock
  1. Uncheck the box next to “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” to disable auto-unlock on your Mac.
  2. Now, restart your Mac and Apple Watch.
  3. Follow the same steps outlined above to go to the “General” tab and check the box next to “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” to re-enable auto-unlock on your Mac.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Enable Auto Unlock

2. Reset Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Connection

Auto Unlock on Mac uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to verify the signals. Most of the time, when the Auto Unlock feature doesn’t work, it is mainly due to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection interruption. The easiest way to fix the Bluetooth or WI-Fi-related issues is to turn them off and then on again.

On Mac

  1. Tap on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar or “Control Center”.
  2. Click the switch next to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to turn them off.
  1. Go back to the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar or “Control Center” and turn on the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi switch.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Turn On Bluetooth Wi Fi

On Apple Watch

  1. Press the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch to open “App View”.
  2. From “Grid View” or “List View,” find the “Settings” app and open it.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Settings Apple Watch
  1. Under Settings, scroll down to Wi-Fi and tap on it.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Settings Page Wi Fi
  1. Toggle off the switch next to Wi-Fi on the next screen. Wait for a few seconds and turn Wi-Fi on again.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Wifi Toggle On
  1. Tap on the back arrow icon in the top left corner to get back to “Settings” and press on Bluetooth.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Settings Page Bluetooth
  1. On the Bluetooth settings page, scroll down and turn off the switch next to Bluetooth. Again wait for a few seconds and turn the Bluetooth switch back on.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Bluetooth Toggle On

3. Turn Off Automatic Login

The Automatic Login feature on Mac allows to automatically sign in into a user account during startup. When Automatic Login is enabled on your Mac, you can’t use Auto Unlock. So, If you want to unlock your Mac using Apple Watch, you will have to turn off automatic login first.

  1. Open “System Preferences” on your Mac.
  2. From there, go to “Users & Groups”.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Users Groups
  1. Now tap on the lock icon in the bottom left corner.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Padlock
  1. Enter your Mac password to allow making changes.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Settings Page Enter Password
  1. Click on “Login Options” in the bottom left corner.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Login Options
  1. From here you can ensure “Automatic login” is turned off on your Mac. If enabled, click on the drop-down menu icon and select “Off” from the options.

4. Turn Off Internet Sharing and Screen Sharing

Auto Unlock doesn’t work when “Internet Sharing” or “Screen Sharing” is turned on. So, if you are sharing your Mac screen or Internet, you will have to turn them off.

  1. Go to “System Preferences” on your Mac.
  2. From System Preferences, go to “Sharing”.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Sharing
  1. Under “Sharing”, make sure “Internet Sharing” and “Screen Sharing” are turned off. If one or both are enabled, deselect the box next to them to turn off.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Sharing Off

5. Update Mac and Apple Watch

Apple regularly updates its devices including Macs and the Apple Watch to fix bugs and issues. If you are running an outdated version of macOS or WatchOS and facing issues with Auto Unlock, you should update your Mac and Apple Watch.

Note: Apple recommends backing up your Mac, before attempting to update.

Update Mac

  1. Launch “System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Next, select “System Update”.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Software Update
  1. Your Mac will start checking for updates.
  2. If it shows “An update is available for your Mac,” tap on the “Update Now” button to download and install the update on your Mac.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Check System Update On Mac

Update Apple Watch

  1. Open the “Watch” app on your iPhone.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Open Watch App
  1. In the “My Watch” tab, click on “General”.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac General Watch App
  1. Under “General” settings, tap on “Software Update”.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Software Update Watch App
  1. You will see a “Checking for Update” message on the screen. If an update is available for your Apple Watch, you’ll be able to download and install it from here.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Update Watch App

6. Unpair Apple Watch and Pair Again

If you tried all the above fixes and none of them worked for you, the last fix you might wish to try is to unpair your Apple Watch and pair it again.

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Open Watch App
  1. In the “My Watch” tab, tap on “All Watches” in the top left corner.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac All Watches
  1. Tap on the “i” icon next to your Apple Watch.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac I Icon
  1. On the next screen, tap on “Unpair Apple Watch”.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Unpair Apple Watch
  1. A prompt will appear on the screen. Tap on “Unpair Apple Watch” to give the final confirmation.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Unpair Apple Watch Confirmation
  1. If you have a Cellular Apple Watch, you will get the option to “Keep Data Plan” or “Remove Data Plan”. As you will pair your Apple Watch again, select the “Keep Data Plan” option.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Keep Data Plan
  1. Lastly, to unpair your Apple Watch, enter your Apple ID password and tap on “Unpair” in the top right corner of the screen.
Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Apple Id Password
  1. You will see a message “Unpairing Apple Watch.” It will take a few seconds to unpair your Apple Watch.
  2. To pair your Apple Watch again, bring it closer to your iPhone. When the setup animation appears on the display, tap on “Continue” button to start the pairing process.

After pairing your Apple Watch, enable Auto Unlock, and hopefully, it should work now.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which version of Mac I have?

To check your Mac’s version, tap on Apple logo in the top right corner. From “Apple Menu Options”, choose “About This Mac.” In the “Overview” tab, you should see the macOS version your computer is running. The year when it was released is listed below.

How can I fix the "Wireless Connection too weak for Apple Watch to unlock this Mac" error?

Your Apple Watch can unlock your Mac with a maximum distance of 48-inches. If you are outside this distance, it will give you the error message “Wireless Connection too weak for Apple Watch to unlock this Mac.” To fix this error, come closer to your Mac, preferably within the specified range, and then try to Auto Unlock it.

Can I also unlock my Mac with my iPhone?

Yes, you can unlock your Mac with your iPhone, not officially but with the help of third-party apps. There are apps like Near Lock, MacID, and Unlox on the App Store. These apps use iPhone’s Face ID and Touch ID to unlock the Mac.

All screenshots taken by Ratnesh Kumar

Image credit: Unsplash

Ratnesh Kumar
Ratnesh Kumar

Ratnesh is into writing how-to guides and explainers. He spends most of his time reading, writing, and watching tech. In his free time, he loves playing and watching Cricket.

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