Your Apple Watch can do more than mirror notifications from your phone or track your activities. It can also be the key to unlocking both your iPhone and your Mac.
The feature comes in handy especially when you’re wearing sunglasses or part of your face is covered up and so using Face ID will be tricky. Additionally, in the case of your Mac, you won’t have to enter your password after every wake-up anymore. Let us show you how you can unlock your iPhone and Mac with an Apple Watch.
How to Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
Face ID doesn’t work when you wear sunglasses or your iPhone is in landscape orientation. Fortunately, in such cases you can use the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature to unlock your iPhone.
- An iPhone with a Face ID (iPhone X or newer) running iOS 14.5 or later.
- An Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, running watchOS 7.4 or later.
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled on your iPhone and Apple Watch.
- Passcode set up and wrist detection enabled on your Apple Watch.
1. Set Up Unlock with Apple Watch on iPhone
To set up “Unlock with Apple Watch” on iPhone, follow these steps:
- Launch the “Settings” app on your iPhone.
- Scroll down to the “Face ID & Passcode” section and tap on it.
- Enter your iPhone’s passcode.
- On the “Face ID & Passcode” settings page, scroll down to the “Unlock With Apple Watch” section and enable the switch next to your Apple Watch name.
- A confirmation prompt will explain how and when the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature works. Tap on the “Turn On” text to give the final permission.
That’s all you need to set up unlock with Apple Watch on iPhone.
2. Use Unlock with Apple Watch on iPhone
- When you want to unlock your iPhone, tap on its screen.
- You will feel haptic feedback on your wrist and receive a notification on your Apple Watch saying “Unlocked by this Apple Watch.”
- The notification features a “Lock iPhone” button. If you didn’t mean to unlock your iPhone, tap it to instantly lock back your iPhone. Keep in mind that tapping on Lock iPhone will disable “Your iPhone Unlocked by this Apple Watch” until you enter your iPhone’s passcode.
Unlocking your iPhone with Apple Watch has a few limitations. Due to security reasons, it doesn’t verify your identity to pay for App Store purchases, pay using Apple Pay, grant you access to passwords saved in iCloud Keychain, or unlock apps that are password protected. However, you can use these features by entering your iPhone passcode.
How to Unlock Your Mac with Apple Watch
Like “Unlock with Apple Watch” on your iPhone, you can unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch using “Auto Unlock”.
1. Check for Auto Unlock
Apple has set specific requirements for the “Auto Unlock” feature to work. Your Mac should be a mid-2013 or newer model running macOS Sierra or later. Here’s how you can check your Mac model and Auto Unlock support:
- On your Mac, tap on the Apple logo in the top left corner of the menu bar.
- From the Apple Menu options, click on “About This Mac.”
- You will find your Mac model underneath its OS version, as well as view the year when it was released (in this case it’s 2020).
- If you want to make double sure that your Mac has support for “Auto Unlock” or not, tap on “System Report”
- Next, expand “Network information” and tap on Wi-Fi from the left sidebar. Look for “Auto Unlock: Supported” in the Interfaces section on the Wi-Fi information page.
Once you have checked that your Mac has support for Auto Unlock, you need to check a few other things:
- Your Mac has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on.
- You are not using Internet Sharing or Screen Sharing on your Mac.
- You are signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID on both your Apple Watch and Mac.
- Your Apple ID has two-factor authentication enabled.
- Your Apple Watch model is running watchOS 3 or later.
- Your Apple Watch has a Passcode.
2. Set Up Auto Unlock on Mac
If you meet all the requirements, follow the below steps to set up “Auto Unlock” on your Mac.
- Tap on the white Apple logo in the top left corner of your Mac screen.
- From the Apple menu options, tap on “System Preferences”.
- Alternatively, you can open “System Preferences” from the Launchpad or do a quick Spotlight search.
- Under “System Preferences”, tap on “Security & Privacy.”
- By default, this should land you in the General tab. If that’s not the case for you, simply tap on the General tab yourself.
- Once there, check the “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” option.
- You will get a prompt “System Preferences is trying to modify your system setting”. Enter your Mac password in the box below and tap on “Modify Settings.”
Once all this is done, you will be able to unlock your Mac using Apple Watch.
3. Use Auto Unlock on Mac
- To use “Auto Unlock” on Mac, bring your Apple Watch closer to your Mac and wait for a couple of seconds.
- You will hear a sound, feel haptic feedback, and receive a notification on your Apple Watch saying, “Your MacBook Unlocked by this Apple Watch.”
4. Approving Other Password Requests
There are several instances where Mac requires to enter the password before making any changes. It includes unlocking settings in System Preferences, viewing saved passwords in Safari Preferences, unlocking a locked note in Apple Notes, approving a new app installation, etc.
You can authorize these password requests using the Apple Watch. For example, when you want to make changes in “System Preferences”, you can double-click the side button on your Apple Watch to approve the password request.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Unlocking iPhone/Mac with Apple Watch secure?
Apple uses “Time of flight” as a security mechanism to keep “Unlock with Apple Watch” and “Auto Unlock” secure. However, Unlocking iPhone or Mac with Apple Watch is not as secure as using a Face ID on iPhone or a password on Mac.
2. How close does Apple Watch have to be to unlock Mac?
Apple hasn’t specified how close Apple Watch should be to unlock a Mac. But as per a test conducted by senior Apple Community moderator, Apple Watch unlocks the Mac with a maximum distance of 48 inches (4 ft/1.22 m). Any distance above it and you will see a message “Wireless connection too weak for Apple Watch to unlock this Mac.”
3. My Apple Watch can’t seem to be able to unlock my iPhone/Mac. What can I do?
If your Apple Watch isn’t unlocking your iPhone and Mac, try the below quick fixes.
- Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and turn them back on.
- Turn off automatic login on your Mac.
- Turn off Internet Sharing and Screen Sharing on your Mac.
- Restart your Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch.
- Reset Apple Watch and setup again.
Image credit: Unsplash
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