5 Simple Ways to Better Secure Your Mac

Blue Apple logo with chain

Macs are easily some of the most secure computers available, but that doesn’t mean they’re bulletproof. Out of the box, your Mac will fend off most would-be intruders, but with a few simple tweaks you can get some pretty impressive security that’s hard to beat.

Check out the tips below to see how you can secure your Mac even more. Remember, it’s better to be proactive with security – because once you need it, it’s already too late.

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Disable Automatic Login

If you take away only one tip from this list, make it this one. By disabling automatic login on your Mac you force anyone restarting or turning on your Mac to enter your password.

To turn off automatic login, just open System Preferences > Users & Groups, then click the lock in the bottom left corner to unlock the pane for changes.

Next, click Login Options at the bottom of the user list. Here, click the drop-down next to Automatic Login and choose Off. Now when your Mac restarts you’ll be prompted for a password.

Double Your Login Security

With automatic login turned off, you should see a list of users when you log in to your Mac. To log in you select the user you want and enter the password. While this is great, you can take this one step further by removing the drop-down and requiring you to type in your username as well.

Mac OS X Security & Privacy settings window

To remove the username drop-down, stay in the Users & Groups pane you were just in, and this time click the radio button next to Name and password. Now when you log in you’ll have to type out your full username as well as your password.

Require Password on Wake
So your Mac is protected by password when it starts up, but what about when you walk away for a few minutes? If you don’t specifically lock your Mac, anyone could walk up and use it. This is why you can set your Mac to require a password when it wakes or returns from a screen saver.

To turn this on, head over to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General tab and check the box next to Require password. Make sure the drop-down here says “immediately” so your Mac is secured as soon as sleep or screen saver kicks in.

Mac OS X Security & Privacy settings window with dialog box

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Require Administrator Password

While requiring username and password when you log in is great, it doesn’t secure your Mac when it’s powered on and logged in already. Whether you’re letting someone else use your Mac or you forgot to lock it, you need to protect your Mac from having major system settings changed.

Selecting firmware password utility from Recovery mode on Mac OS X

To turn this on, under System Preferences > Security & Privacy click on the General tab to see your basic security settings. Click the lock in the lower left corner to unlock the pane, then click on Advanced in the lower right corner.

Click the checkbox next to Require an administrator password… and click OK. Now any settings changed will require the admin password. This can be a pain, but it can really save you from someone wanting to hurt your Mac.

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Set a Firmware Password

While all these settings are great, anyone who really knows his or her way around a Mac can reset your password and access your Mac with little trouble using Recovery Mode and Terminal.

Since your Mac doesn’t have a firmware password until you specifically set one, it’s easy to get in. To set a password for your firmware you’ll need to reboot your Mac and hold down Command + R while doing so. This will boot your Mac into Recovery mode.

Once there, click the Utilities menu and choose Firmware Password Utility.

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Set a strong password and make sure to record it somewhere because if you ever need to restore from a backup or restart with other options, you’ll need it, and there’s no “Forgot Password” tool to fix it.

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