These days, keeping your personal computer secure is about as necessary as personal hygiene — it's something you have to do. For most of us, this starts with a well thought out password that is easy to remember but difficult to guess.
But, what if you didn't have to enter your password every time you wanted to unlock your computer? The proliferation of mobile and wireless technology has enabled innovations that allow users to unlock their personal computer by using compatible features on their smartphones.
Apple fans can now use their iPhone to unlock their Mac through Touch ID, proximity, or another gesture. By setting up one of these new authentication tools, Apple users can save time logging in while keeping their devices secure.
Here are five apps that will allow you to unlock your Mac computer with your iPhone.
MacID allows users to unlock their Mac with the Touch ID feature or device passcode on their iOS device, as well as unlocking it with MacID for the Apple Watch. Once you have the app downloaded on both your Mac and iPhone, you use the Touch ID to scan your fingerprint and it will unlock your Mac. It also gives users the ability to set Touch ID as the authorization for specific tasks such as trashing protected files.
If your iOS device moves away from your Mac, the Mac will automatically lock and inform you that it has done so. Users can also use MacID to set new unlock settings for the Mac itself by setting up a specific tap pattern on your touch pad that will also unlock your computer. Additionally, you can control your computer's audio and share clipboard content between your Mac and iOS device using MacID.
In the app store, MacID runs $3.99. For it to work properly, your Mac must have Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) and be running OS X Yosemite or later. Your iOS device must also have Bluetooth LE, and be running iOS 8 or later.
If you are looking for an unlock app that won't run down your battery, check out Knock. Once properly installed, Knock gives users the ability to "knock" on their phone, just like you'd knock on a door, to unlock their Mac. The app also uses Bluetooth LE technology and can be used if your phone is still in your pocket.
For Apple Watch wearers, Knock authenticates once with Touch ID, but then allows you to unlock your Mac by simply tapping on the watch face. It's definitely one of the more seamless options on the market.
The app works with iPhone 4S and later, running iOS 7.0 or later, and many of the newer Mac models. Knock version 2.0 costs $4.99 in the Apple App Store.
If you don't want to mess with any manual authentication tactics at all, you might want to give Tether a shot. Tether is another Bluetooth LE-powered app, but it unlocks your Mac for you by proximity. This means that when you approach your Mac with your phone in tow, Tether will automatically enter your password and unlock it for you. Conversely, when you walk away it will lock your machine.
Tether requires both a Mac and iOS app to be downloaded, and it requires OS X Yosemite 10.10.1 or newer and iOS 8.0 or newer. Your Mac must have Bluetooth LE (which might be called Bluetooth 4.0) and you must have an iPhone 4S or later. Tether only works with one Mac.
Tether is free in the Apple App Store.
KeyTouch is an app that uses the Touch ID feature to unlock your Mac, but it also offers a few other unique features as well. Users can also use Touch ID through KeyTouch to login to web pages in Safari, enter passwords in a password prompt, or lock their Mac. For compatible sites in Safari, you'll be prompted to input your credentials, which can be edited at any time.
It saves your password and credentials via AES 256-bit on your Mac itself, so it isn't transferred over the Bluetooth signal. The app also uses Bluetooth LE and requires an iOS devices running iOS 8.0 or later and a Mac with Bluetooth LE.
KeyTouch will cost you $0.99 to download from the Apple App Store.
Another option for a proximity-based unlock tool is Near Lock. The app will lock and unlock your Mac based on the presence of your iPhone, and users can set the distance at which the app locks or unlocks the computer. For added security, you can verify each login using Touch ID or Apple Watch as well.
Near Lock provides iOS notifications when your Mac has been locked or unlocked, and it also places an icon on your Mac's menu bar where users can quickly change Near lock's settings. Near Lock works with iPhone 4S or later, running iOS 7 or later, and newer Macs with Bluetooth LE running OS X Mavericks or later.
Near Lock is free in the Apple App Store, but a $3.99 in-app purchase to unlock Pro Mode is required to access all the features.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.