How to take advantage of the Dynamic Lock feature in Windows 10

With the Creators Update, Windows 10 can monitor a Bluetooth connection to your phone and automatically lock your computer when you walk away. Here's how to set up this feature.

Windows 10 Creators Update: Five new features to try out

The Creators Update brought a host of new features to the Windows 10 operating system. While a lot of these features are noteworthy and are touted everywhere you look, other features are less well known and remain in the shadows. Such is the case with the Dynamic Lock feature, which is designed to improve security by automatically locking your computer when you forget to do so manually. To accomplish this feat, the Dynamic Lock feature uses a Bluetooth connection to monitor the proximity between your PC and your phone. Once your phone moves out of the range of the Bluetooth Piconet, Dynamic Lock will automatically lock your computer.

Let's take a closer at how you go about establishing a Bluetooth connection between your PC and your phone and then enabling Dynamic Lock.

The Bluetooth connection

Of course, for the Dynamic Lock feature to work, your PC must have Bluetooth connectivity. But how does the Dynamic Lock feature use Bluetooth to determine when to lock your computer?

Well, without getting tied down in a lot to detail, Bluetooth uses radio waves to establish a wireless short-range communications network called a piconet. A piconet consists of two or more devices that have been configured, or paired, to use the same wireless channel. Just like any wireless connection, a Bluetooth piconet has a distance range within which it can function. The range of a Bluetooth piconet is controlled by the power of the Bluetooth transmitters in the devices. The transmitters fall into three classes that determine their range. Class 1 transmitters operate at up to 330 feet, class 2 at up to 33 feet, and class 3 at up to 3.3 feet.


Image: iStock/DGLimages

As long as the devices are within range of each other, there is a connection. However, when the devices get out of range of each other, the connection between the devices is lost.

So when you establish a piconet between your computer and your phone, the Dynamic Lock feature monitors that connection. As long as there is a link between the devices, Dynamic Lock is dormant. But once the connection is lost, Dynamic Lock becomes active and will lock your computer.

Part of the exercise of describing the piconet and its range is to help you understand that when you pick up your phone and walk away from your computer, Dynamic Lock won't instantaneously lock it. Dynamic Lock will have to wait until you are far enough away that Bluetooth connection is lost. And then there will be a slight delay between the time that connection is lost and the moment when the computer locks--essentially the amount of time that it takes your computer to sense the loss of connection and begin the process of locking the computer.

In my testing, I picked up my phone, walked to the other side of the house, set my phone down, walked back to my office, and sat down in my chair for a few moments before Dynamic Lock locked my computer.

So keep that in mind as you evaluate the effectiveness of the Dynamic Lock feature.

SEE: 10 physical security measures every organization should take (TechRepublic)

Pairing your phone to your PC

Pairing your phone to your PC is a pretty straightforward operation. While I have an iPhone that I will use in my example here, the process will be the same for an Android phone. To begin, make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your phone. Then, access the Bluetooth & Other Devices page in Settings.

The most common location from which you can access Settings is the Start menu, but there are others. In fact, you can do so from File Explorer. Once you have File Explorer up and running, select This PC in the Navigation pane. You'll see that the Computer tab contains an Open Settings icon in the System section, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

You can access Settings from File Explorer.

Once you access Settings, select the Bluetooth & Other Devices page, click the Bluetooth switch to set it to On, and then click the Add Bluetooth Or Other Device button, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure B
Make sure that the Bluetooth switch is set to on and then click the Add Bluetooth Or Other Device button.

When you see the Add A Device dialog, select Bluetooth, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure C
You'll select the Bluetooth option from the Add A Device dialog.

In a few moments, Windows 10 will find and identify your phone. Figure D shows that Windows found my iPhone.

Figure D

Figure D
Windows 10 will then find your phone.

A few moments after finding each other, the devices began the pairing process and prompted me to verify a code, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Figure E
At the beginning of the pairing process, you're prompted to verify a code.

Once you enter the code, Windows lets you know that the device is ready to go, as shown in Figure F. Just click Done.

Figure F

Figure F
After you enter the code, you'll see this message.

You'll then see your phone on the Bluetooth & Other Devices page, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Figure G
Once the pairing process is complete, you'll see your phone on the Bluetooth & Other Devices page.

SEE: Windows 10: Microsoft will now prompt you to install the Creators Update (ZDNet)

Enabling the Dynamic Lock feature

One you have a Bluetooth connection between your phone and computer, you are ready to enable Dynamic Lock. To do so, from the Bluetooth & Other Devices page, select the Home button, choose Accounts, and select the Sign-in Options page. Scroll down until you see the Dynamic Lock section and select the Allow Windows To Detect When You're Away And Automatically Lock The Device check box, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

To enable the Dynamic Lock feature, just select the Allow Windows To Detect When You're Away And Automatically Lock The Device check box.

That's it. However, just to be on the safe side, I recommend restarting your system.

Also see...

What's your take?

Were you aware of the Dynamic Lock feature included in the Creators Update? If you've tried it out, how has it worked for you? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.