OS X: How to Lock Your Computer from the Menu Bar

   Posted May 28, 2012 by David Kirk in Apple Mac

If you are security minded and worried about others using your computer while your are away, you can easily lock your desktop to keep it safe from prying eyes.

Securely locking a system is essential; however, people frequently avoid it because of the time it takes to log out and then log back into a system. However, by placing the ability to lock the system in the menu bar, the whole process becomes much quicker and efficient.

All recent versions of OS X including Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion include this feature.

First, we need to add Keychain Access Status icon to the menu bar.

1. Open Finder.

2. Click Applications in the left pane.

3. In the right pane, click Utilities and select Keychain Access.

4. When Keychain Access opens, go to the menu and select Preferences.

5. From the General tab, check the Show Status in Menu Bar checkbox.

6. A lock icon will appear in the menu bar.

7. Close Preferences, Keychain Access and Finder windows.

Now that we have the Status icon on the menu bar, we can lock the desktop easily by clicking it and selecting Lock Screen. Your credentials will need to be entered to unlock the computer.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

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  • kamen

    Setting a hot spot on your screen saver that locks your computer is quicker.  Just move the mouse to the corner and its done, no clicking and scrolling down a menu.

    • Dave

      Thanks for showing me an alternative to hotspot corner…

      I have a PC (primary machine win7) and a mac (secondary machine Lion 10.7.3) on my desk, and I use keyboard sharing to save desk space. For some reason, the hotspot feature works perfectly when using the native mac mouse, but when using the keyboard share, it starts to become temperamental and in most cases doesn’t lock the screen (go figure?). The icon on the menu bar is a much better solution for me because it works with keyboard share on.


  • Fernando

    Also you can simply press CTRL+SHIFT+EJECT in order to lock your screen.

    • phliKtid

      on mountain lion on my imac, ctrl+shift+eject shuts down my screens (turns them off, not activating the screen saver) but it doesn’t lock them immediately. it appears to follow the setting in screen saver to wait x minutes before locking the screen. the keychain method above immediately starts the screen saver and locks the screen. so depending on your desires and needs and screen saver settings, one may be preferable over the other.