You’ve already secured your iPhone with Face ID, but that’s no help when you’re wearing a mask. If you need to unlock your phone at the supermarket, department store, or another public place, you’re forced to enter a passcode or pull down your mask. If you have a long and complex password to secure your Mac, it may also be difficult to remember or annoying to type every time it goes into Lock Mode.
You can avoid these hassles with your iPhone and Mac if you also own an Apple Watch, thanks to a feature called Auto Unlock. This option automatically unlocks your iPhone or Mac when your smartwatch is in close proximity to these devices while they are in Lock Mode. (It’s not available on the iPad.)
Auto Unlock only goes so far, though. On an iPhone, you still need to enter your passcode to pay for an item with Apple Pay. On your Mac, you still need to enter your password when you power up or reboot your computer. But in both cases, Auto Unlock can otherwise save you some time and effort. Here’s how to make unlocking your iPhone and Mac easier.
How to Unlock Your iPhone While Wearing a Mask
In order to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch, you will need a phone with Face ID, which means iPhone X or later, and an Apple Watch 3 or later. You also need to be running iOS 14.5 or higher. To check, go to Settings > General > Software Update. You’ll be told that iOS is up to date or prompted to grab the latest version, which you should then download and install.
Next, make sure your Apple Watch is running watchOS 7.4 or higher. To check, open the Watch app on your iPhone. Go to General > Software Update. If necessary, allow the latest update to install. You’ll need to connect your watch to a charger for the update to be applied.
From here, you should enable Auto Lock on your iPhone. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and enter your passcode as verification. Swipe down the screen and turn on the switch for your watch under Unlock Apple Watch. A message pops up to tell you how the Auto Unlock feature works. Tap Turn On, and you can now unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch.
When you’re wearing a mask, have your Apple Watch on your wrist and unlocked. When you need to unlock your phone, just tap the phone screen while it is in Lock Mode. You should feel the haptic feedback on your watch and see a notification that your phone was unlocked by the Apple Watch. Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone screen to open your home screen. You can then relock your phone by tapping the Lock Phone button on your watch.
How to Unlock Your Mac With an Apple Watch
If you want to use Auto Unlock on your Mac, it must be a mid-2013 model or later with macOS Sierra or higher. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi should be turned on, and you can’t be using internet sharing or screen sharing.
You can check your Mac’s compatibility by clicking the Apple menu and selecting About this Mac. Navigate to System Report > Network > Wi-Fi. Look for an entry for Auto Unlock in the right pane. If it says Supported, then you’re good to go.
You can use any Apple Watch model running watchOS 3 or later, and it must also be protected by a passcode. Your Apple ID must be set to use two-factor authentication (not two-step verification), and both devices should be signed into iCloud with the same Apple ID.
Enable the unlock feature on your Mac by opening System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. Click the checkbox next to Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac, then enter your Mac password to enable the setting. Now you are able to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch.
The next time your Mac is locked, open to the Lock Screen with your Apple Watch nearby. Wait a few seconds, and you should hear and feel a click on your Apple Watch. A message that your Mac was unlocked by the Apple Watch should also appear on your watch. Your Mac should then open to your desktop.