Nearly everyone has a login password set on their laptops these days. It’s a simple way to secure your account and its data from unwanted eyes, as well as keep your account completely private. If you’re using a Mac, an additional layer of security can be achieved by using Filevault, which ensures that only logged-in users can access your drive’s data.
However, neither of these methods prevent someone from booting your Mac from an external drive which can allow an unknown user to reinstall firmware into your Mac and access or delete your data.
An easy fix for this is to set a firmware password on your Mac. A firmware password is a third layer of security that prevents the Mac from entering Recovery mode unless you enter a password. Essentially, this means that no one can use Recovery Mode to change your Mac’s firmware or boot from another bootable volume without entering a password known only to you. This password can be set by accessing your Mac in Recovery mode (explained below) and setting a firmware password. Although this sounds easy (and is), there is one major drawback you need to know about.
Since this is a firmware password, it won’t be visible or used in your everyday normal Mac use. However, in the case you need to reset your Mac or boot from another drive, you’ll need to enter the password. And if you forget it, there’s no way of resetting it. You cannot even access your Mac in Recovery mode to reset it / change its firmware without entering the password. So essentially, if you lose it, you’ll be completely stuck.
Currently, only Apple recognizes how to reset this firmware password, so you’ll have to take your Mac to an Apple Store or an authorized Apple Service Provider to have them reset it.
If you’re willing to take the risk, simply follow the steps below to set a firmware password on your Mac:
1. Turn off your Mac. Once it’s powered off, turn it back on.
2. Immediately hold down the Command and R keys to activate Recovery Mode. Recovery Mode, as the name suggests, is usually used to recover your Mac’s firmware or reset it using an external drive. However, in this case we’ll be using it to set our password.
3. Once the Utilities screen appears, click on Utilities from the menu bar.
4. Select Startup Security Utility.
5. Click on the “Turn On Firmware Password.”
6. Enter in the password you want to set as the firmware password, verify it, and then click on “Set Password.”
7. Once done, click on “Quit Startup Security Utility.”
8. Click on the menu on the top-left and select “Restart.” This will reboot your Mac. You can continue using it as you normally would.
Now you don’t have to worry about strangers accessing your data / resetting it by using an external bootable drive if your Mac ever gets stolen, lost, etc.
If you ever want to turn off the firmware password, simply follow the steps detailed above, but in step 5, simply click on “Turn Off Firmware Password.” You’ll need to enter the password to turn it off, obviously, so if you’ve forgotten the password, this won’t work. Thus, we strongly urge you to write the password down somewhere safe as a backup in case you forget it.
If you found this method to secure your Mac and safeguard its data useful, let us know in the comments section below.