One Thing Well

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Lock Your Mac

On Twitter, Stecki got in touch to ask:

Nice to know that + ctrl + turns off my mac’s display. But is there a standard key combination to lock it as well?

There isn’t, sadly. But there are a few ways to quickly lock your Mac…


Update: The methods below all work, but @nadinengland suggested a much better solution:

  • Under System Preferences → Security → General, check ‘Require password after sleep or screensaver begins’.

This has the advantage of working perfectly with the keyboard combo to switch off your display.


  1. In the Keychain Access Preferences, check ‘Show Status in Menu Bar’. The resulting menu bar item dropdown includes a ‘Lock Screen’ option.
  2. In System Preferences → Accounts → Login Options, check ‘Show fast user switching menu as Icon’. The resulting menu bar item dropdown includes a ‘Login Window’ option (this works even if you only have one user on your machine).
  3. Do something clever with the following command:
/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu\ Extras/User.menu/Contents/Resources/CGSession -suspend

That ‘something clever’ might include:

  • Making a ‘Run Shell Script’ Service in Automator and assigning it a keyboard shortcut in System Preferences → Keyboard → Keyboard Shortcuts (instructions here).
  • Sticking the command in a shell script and launching it with Quicksilver, LaunchBar, &c..
  • Assign an alias to the command in your shell config. file, so you can type lock at the command line to launch the Login Window.

The sound you hear in the distance is Windows users laughing—they can lock their screens with a simple Win + L