How to Use “Approve with Apple Watch” on macOS Catalina

Approve With Apple Watch System Cover

The Apple Watch has come a long way since it was released over six years ago, with the latest Apple Watch 5 and watchOS 6 integrating into your tech setup like never before. A new feature introduced in the latest macOS Catalina allows for the Apple Watch to perform authentication actions on their Mac.

This feature, known as “Approve with Apple Watch,” provides two solutions. It lets you view the passwords on your Mac (specifically in Safari) whenever you need to type in your password. Secondly, it offers a unique way to approve app installations and other password-protected acts, such as unlocking settings in System Preferences, modifying root files, unlocking a secure Notes file, etc.

To use Approve with Apple Watch, you’ll need the following:

  1. Apple Watch running watchOS 6 or later
  2. Mac running macOS Catalina or later
  3. Auto-Unlock feature enabled
  4. Two-Factor Authentication enabled on your iCloud account.

First, to enable the Auto-Unlock feature:

1. Turn on your Apple Watch and wear it on your wrist. If the watch is not on your wrist, you won’t be able to enable Auto-Lock, as your Mac will not be able to register the device.

2. You’ll also need to have a passcode set on your Apple Watch. If you don’t have one set already, simply open up the Settings app from your Apple Watch app screen and tap on Passcode to set one.

3. On your Mac, open up “System Preferences.”

4. Click on “Security and Privacy” and then on General.

Approve With Apple Watch Settings

5. Enable the option to “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.” This will require you to enter in your administrator ID and password.

Approve With Apple Watch Approval

Once this is done, you’ll need to enable Two-Factor authentication on your iCloud account. There are multiple ways to do this: by visiting your Apple ID website, using the iPhone/iPad Settings app, etc. We’ll be enabling it directly from macOS’s System Preferences app. To do so, follow the below instructions:

1. In System Preferences, access your iCloud account.

Approve With Apple Watch Apple Id

2. From the left pane, select “Passwords and Security.”

Approve With Apple Watch Two Factor Auth

3. Enable the option for Two-Factor authentication.

Once this is done, Auto-Unlock should work automatically on your Apple Watch / Mac. Follow the below example to see how it works:

1. In Safari, if you open a website with a password field, Safari will show you a key icon next to the password (provided you have saved passwords in Safari before).

Approve With Apple Watch Enter Password

2. If you click on the icon to access the list of passwords, you’ll get the option to either enter in your password on your Mac or simply double-tap your Apple Watch button to “Approve with Apple Watch.”

Approve With Apple Watch Safari

Approve With Apple Watch Watch

This works similarly in the System Preferences app. If you need to unlock a specific setting to make changes, simply use the “Approve with Apple Watch” feature to unlock it directly from your Apple Watch rather than typing in your password on your Mac.

Approve With Apple Watch System Preferences

As described above, Approve with Apple Watch can save you time in entering in your password.

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