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Unlocking your Mac in Style
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Unlocking your Mac in Style

by Tyler SmithMar 13, 2016

Now most people who have a Mac have an iPhone and with the updates that have come out these past few years, your iPhone has become something that your Mac can work with and not work against. With the new Handoff feature that was implemented in OS X Yosemite unlocking your mac could not be easier.

These Apps all work in a similar but different way. Each requires an app from the iOS App Store and another companion app available for downloaded from the developer’s website (don’t worry they are safe we checked). Each app uses the low power Bluetooth that is available on your phone and the Bluetooth capabilities that come with your Mac. You input your password when prompted and boom you can then unlock your Mac in various ways! Bonus is they all offer an Apple Watch app!!

Now I have tested out three of these iOS Apps with their companion Mac Apps for you so maybe you can get a feel for one over the other. Now there are much more of these Apps that have hit the AppStore but I feel that these three Apps are the best for their value.

Tether

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Now this one is a really great utility for someone who has an iMac in their house or they usually leave their Macbook on a desk somewhere and really isn’t traveling much.

After installing you will not need to do anything but input your password and walk away. It really is that easy. The app doesn’t have to be open and you don’t need to click anything on your phone. You just stand up and you walk away. The app is free and, with no in-app purchase, you get the full functionality of unlocking your mac just by walking up to it. The app also has two add-ons (both worth $.99 USD) but they only add functionality to the app so the app can be used free of charge.

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The menu offers you a couple really nice things as well. It allows you to unlink any and all devices that can open your Mac so if your phone gets stolen or you lose it, you aren’t compromising your Mac as well. It also allows you to set how sensitive the trigger will be on a distance scale. You will have to play with it because if you set it too close you might lock your Mac and if you set it too far you might be unlocking your mac when you don’t really want to so you just have to play with the settings.

The App Store app for this app, as stated, has two add-ons that I did use for a little while. One allows you to do a handful of actions. All from the app you can sleep, lock, restart, shut down, and log out of your mac. you don’t even need to be near it (you need to be within the bluetooth range of course) to use any of these actions. The other add-on allows you to control the Music playback from your mac which is really awesome for me because I usually leave my Mac on my desk and play music from it so being able to change the song without getting up is really nice. The best part is that if you have an Apple Watch you don’t even need to take out your phone to use these actions. I do not have an Apple Watch so I can’t really unlock the full potential in this app but being able to do these actions from my wrist seems like it would be convenient.

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That being said the app is slightly unreliable. It takes a decent amount of time for my Mac to got to sleep and lock but it also randomly locks and then unlocks itself far too often for something that I will be using while I’m trying to work. Now it’s not as bad as it seems but in the couple of hours that I was on my Macbook, it did it good 10-15 times. It also disconnects itself completely from my mac and I would have to set it up again. This only happened two times so it wasn’t all that bad. So for a free app I can take a couple of bugs here and there but if this were a paid app I would have been highly disappointed.

This app is available on the AppStore for Free and the companion Mac app is available on hellotether.com as a free download.

Knock

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The knock was the first app to get me into the world of being able to unlock my Mac using my iPhone. I remember seeing it somewhere last year in the beginning of the school year after thinking, “there has to be an easier way.” It looked expensive at first but I thought that it would make my life a little easier and my Mac would be more secure because I would never actually have to input my password allowing for prying eyes.

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After installing it will take you through a very easy setup process where the companion app for your Mac will walk you through how it works. Once everything is all paired up you will be able to lock your Mac and you will be welcomed to the green circle that means that you can knock on your iPhone, wherever it is, and it will unlock your Mac. If you don’t feel comfortable and you want to use your Touch ID enabled the device to unlock your Mac you can all you need to do is turn the feature on and bam, you can use Touch ID to unlock your Mac. You can also use Knock to perform Administrator actions so that you don’t have to keep inputting your password when you are trying to do the important things.

Knock also offers you a status bar icon that has many features.

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It allows you to lock your Mac without having to touch anything else, just open status bar icon and press Lock Mac. It also gives the option to unlink your phone, turn on and off the Require Touch ID feature, go to the Help center as well as get updates.

The App for iOS is very simple yet it has a very pleasing look to it. When you open up the app and you are connected to your Mac you will see at the bottom your icon with the green circle. The app will show in real time if your Mac is unlocked or not. If it is unlocked it will show your home screen and if it is locked it will show you a screen with a lock on it. Even better is from the app you can unlock and lock your Mac just by tapping the computers screen. Now this one doesn’t offer music controls but it could come in the future and with the direction that all the other apps are going it would not surprise me if it was implemented soon. The Apple Watch app also allows you to unlock your Mac right from your Wrist.

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Now while I love this App, there are a couple little nuisances that come up very rarely. One is that sometimes the Bluetooth will not recognize my phone and it will be stuck on an ever-spinning circle but this one is usually fixed by just quitting  Knock and relaunching it. Another issue that I used to come across, but only two or three times, was an issue where my phone would not connect to my Mac at all which was only fixed with unlinking my phone on both my Mac and phone and then simply reconnecting it.

Knock is available from the AppStore for $4.99 USD and the companion app is available at knocktounlock.com free of charge.

MacID

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MacID is one of the apps that I got after Knock because it was available free for limited time and I said: “Why not?”. This was the best free purchase I could have made because this app is seriously awesome. It really is the definition of the full feature. This app is seriously like a combination of Tether and Knock plus even more. If that circle is bright just like it is, it means that your phone is connected and wants to unlock the phone.

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So the initial Feature is that your Mac will send a notification to your iPhone that is interactive. Meaning that you can swipe on it, press unlock and you will be prompted for your device passcode or fingerprint. Now if you are already on your device you can just swipe down on the banner and press unlock, no Touch ID verification needed. That is not all this app can do, though. This app has many more features than just unlocking with your fingerprint. Something this app has that the other two do not is 3D touch gestures to lock and unlock your computer and go right to settings.

Proximity Wake is one feature that is just like Tether except it has many more settings all the way down to custom distances at which the computer unlocks. This feature always works for me and if I leave my Mac open on my desk when I go to sit back down usually my computer is already open and I don’t even have to touch anything. It also has a feature to Auto-Lock when away from Mac which is another thing that makes it just like Tether. Makes it really easy to just walk out of my room and know my Mac is locked.

Something else that is really cool if your phone is not with you is the Tap to Unlock feature. What this allows is you to input a sequence of finger taps with 1, 2, or 3 fingers in any way you want to Unlock (and even lock) your Mac. You don’t even need your phone to be connected for that to be available, MacID just needs to be on.  This is really a good thing if you don’t keep your phone near you at all times or you want to leave it charging on your bed but your Mac is elsewhere.

This app also allows you to lock, unlock, send the clipboard to and from each device, color customize to your liking, plus control your Macs audio (which works with iTunes and Spotify).  MacID lets you use your fingerprint to perform Admin actions (on the admin account only of course) as well. And if that is not enough MacID also has a Notification Center widget so that you can lock and unlock and send the clipboard to your Mac all without leaving the current app you are in. It also has the ability to connect with multiple devices and even works with your Pebble watch if you have one. You just need to go into the settings and switch it on. I don’t know how well it works because I don’t have a pebble watch but it seems like a really nice feature to have.

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MacID is available on the AppStore for $3.99 USD with the companion app available for free download at macid.co.

Now this app out of the three is my favorite and I will be personally using this one for a long time but it does have one huge flaw that gets annoying. It continuously asks for my fingerprint to unlock my mac even though I’m nowhere near it but sorta within Bluetooth range. Now it only happens when I leave the Bluetooth range and then come back but when I’m walking around my house the notifications can get repetitive. It also might come multiple times which can be a real turn-off for people. Hopefully, this gets fixed in an update but we will see.

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So there you have it, folks, three awesome apps to unlock your Mac. Are there any that you use that aren’t on this list? Do you use these and do you like them? Improvements?

And as always stay tuned on social media for constant updates.

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About The Author
Tyler Smith
College Student. I started jailbreaking on my very first iPod touch and since then I fell in love with jailbreaking and learned to become involved in a community. Currently I own an iPhone 6s Plus, an iPad 2 and, a Macbook Pro. My Cydia Account is 464590374