These days we invest a lot in protecting our digital data. Whether it’s leading the crusade for stronger passwords, installing encryption software for your most valuable files, or locking things down with highly protected cloud servers, everyone tends to focus on the content of their laptops.
However, according to the FBI, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds — and that’s the whole machine, not just a hack into your files or temporary breach.
You can always lock down your physical MacBook Pro or MacBook Air inside a backpack or case, but what about when you need to use it? This is when a laptop lock comes in handy.
These devices attach to your MacBook and include a cable that then wraps around a nearby unmovable object such as desk leg. They come in combination and key models and can be adapted to almost every situation.
In this article, we’ll show you some of our top picks for laptop locks, and help you secure your own MacBook.
- Don’t have a built-in lock slot but want to keep your Mac in pristine condition? The Kensington MacBook Locking Station lets you secure the MacBook in a removable dock that connects with a cable to any sturdy object.
- If you do have a lock slot on your older Mac, get this basic Kensington Combination Cable Lock if you don’t mind memorizing four numbers.
- You can also get the WordLock Combination Portable Cable Lock if you know you’ll forget a sequence immediately and would prefer a few letters. Both are reliable locks that are lightweight and simple to use.
- A lack of a lock slot isn’t a necessary problem, especially when the FOLAI Combination Lock with Adhesive Security Plate allows you to essentially attach your own. The adapter adheres to the body of your laptop and allows you to fit a Kensington-style lock onto the computer at any time.
Do I Need a Lock for My MacBook?
Do you frequently work in public, such as at a coffee shop or library? Maybe you don’t feel comfortable leaving your Mac out on your desk at work or utilize a shared workspace.
A laptop lock is a great solution for these situations because it deters any grab-and-run burglaries, and keeps your computer secure if you have to leave the area for a short time (for example, a lunch or restroom run).
A laptop lock is less necessary if you tend to use your Mac in the security of your home. In this case, it’s fairly secure and should be protected unless the circumstances are extreme.
You should also consider whether or not your MacBook has a lock slot. While older models can usually find it right next to the optical drive (CD drive), the newer models and any Retina or Air models do not include this feature.
That means you’ll need to first buy a secondary device that creates a place for the lock to attach, or utilize a lock that attaches with an anchor plate rather than a traditional locking knob.
The Best Laptop Lock for MacBook in 2021: Our Picks
1. Kensington MacBook Laptop Locking Station
Securing your laptop is possible even without a lock slot. The Locking Station functions like a normal dock, but instead of adding ports it snaps around the edge of your MacBook and adds security. Once attached, you can lock the dock (and by extension, your Mac) to any sturdy object in the vicinity.
- Pros: Noninvasive design does not harm your laptop such as an adhesive might while still keeping your laptop in your hands. Includes a 6ft locking cable in addition to the dock so you have plenty of attachments options but can be used with any Kensington model lock you have on hand.
- Cons: Can’t close the laptop lid while the dock is in use. The dock is heavy and not meant to be portable.
2. Kensington Combination Cable Lock for Laptops and Other Devices
This Kensington Cable lock is the most classic and simple laptop lock available. You’ll need a lock slot and a numbers-friendly memory, but with both of those, your MacBook will be secure from any who wish to do harm. The cable length is approximately 1.5 meters.
- Pros: Simple and easy to use with a 4-digit combo that gives you 10,000 possible options when securing your Mac. The cable is made of sturdy braided steel covered with a protective casing for extra cut resistance.
- Cons: Only works with a lock slot.
3. Kensington WordLock Combination Portable Cable Lock
Prefer words over numbers? Almost identical to the aforementioned Kensington Combination Lock, the WordLock’s only difference is that it uses a combination of letters rather than numbers to lock and unlock your MacBook. On all other fronts, it maintains the same level of security and ease of use.
- Pros: Letter combinations can be easier to remember than numbers while giving you the same amount of possibilities. Sturdy cable is made of braided steel with casing to prevent cuts, and the lock is available in red and black.
- Cons: Only works with a lock slot.
4. FOLAI Laptop Combination Lock with Adhesive Security Plate
If you’re using a Mac without a lock slot, you’re going to need an external solution. With this FOLAI lock kit, you adhere the small included part to the back of the lid, and suddenly you have a Kensington lock slot to use the included cable with.
- Pros: Works with any Mac, even if it doesn’t come with a lock slot. Attaches securely and the combination lock is sturdy enough to resist thieves.
- Cons: Requires you to adhere a part directly to your Mac, which could be damaged if you try and remove it later.
Since not all MacBooks support the same methods of security, you’ll need to pay careful attention to your method of attachment.
Pre-2014 models should have the standard Kensington lock slot, but anything else will need to look into docks or other attachable that allow a MacBook Air or Pro to be safely locked.
Always make sure to check that your model is supported and whether or not it has a built-in lock slot before making a purchase.
It wouldn’t do to buy a laptop lock only to have the cable easily cut by a malicious thief. A cable should be cut-resistant and made of thick metal wire with an exterior coating.
The overall diameter of the cord has some bearing on its success but should be taken with a grain of salt since it must be balanced with portability and mass.
Ease of Use
Can’t remember combinations to save your life? Luckily locks come in multiple styles such as key, combo, and word combo. If numbers aren’t your style then you don’t need to settle — go for a lock and key or more memorable word password instead.
A laptop lock should be easy and painless to use for you, and incredibly difficult for a burglar — not the opposite!
The Kensington slot is what you’ll find on any Mac that has a lock slot, but it can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never used it before.
This helpful video will show you how to use a standard Kensington lock like some of those we have recommended and have you well on your way to a secure MacBook (although the video uses a PC, the port is identical):
Got everything locked in? It’s time to protect the contents of your Mac as well. You can use anti-theft software in addition to a lock in order to have a better chance of retrieving your MacBook if it is stolen.
You can read more about the various methods of doing so in this Macworld article: Don’t get Apple picked: How to protect your Mac from theft in public places.
A laptop lock is a great investment for those who work anywhere and everywhere. Since even the extended Applecare warranty doesn’t cover theft and even Find My Mac can fail, it’s best to be preventative rather than reactionary.
Has your MacBook (Pro & Air) ever been stolen or almost taken from you? Tell us what you’ve done to keep your laptop in your own possession rather than that of thieves.
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5 ways to lock a Mac computer to keep your files secure
- There are many options when it comes to locking a Mac, from simply closing the lid to keyboard shortcuts.
- You'll need to set up a password for your Mac before you can properly lock it.
- Once you have a password, you'll need to set your computer's sleep and wake settings to control how often you need to log into your locked Mac with a password.
- Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference page for more stories.
Out of all the measures you should take to protect your digital privacy, locking a device might be the most basic, but it can surely be the most effective.
Whether you're at school, an office, or even at home, locking your Mac — even if you step away just for a moment — is a no-brainer. Just think of all the sensitive information that's just a few clicks away: Security codes, work documents, financial statements, all of your social accounts, and more.
There are several ways you can lock your Mac, which we outline below. But before you can do that, you'll want to set up a password for your computer. Here's everything you need to know.
Setting up a password on Mac
In order to lock your Mac, you'll need to first set up a password. This password will be required for both logging into your Mac as well as approving changes to your computer.
1. Click the Apple icon, located in the top-left corner of your screen and select "System Preferences."
2. Click "Security and Privacy"
3. In the General tab, check the box that says "Require password." You can also set the timing of the password, from "immediately" up to "8 hours." It's important to choose "immediately" if you want your computer to automatically lock when it goes to sleep or screensaver mode.
We should also note that clicking "Advanced" in the lower-right hand corner of the window allows you to specify how long your computer can be idle before it automatically logs out and requires a password to get back in. This is an ideal last line of defense against would-be intruders.
Once your password is set, you'll be able to lock your Mac in several different ways — the best method depends on your habits and preferences, and if you typically use your computer in a private or public setting.
Closing the lid
If you're working on a MacBook, you can simply close the lid. This by far the easiest method, but only works if you've set the computer to "immediately" lock when you set up your password.
Apple menu bar
Another simple way to lock your Mac is from the Apple icon in the menu bar. From the Apple icon dropdown menu, click on "Lock Screen."
Using keyboard shortcuts
You can easily lock your Mac from your keyboard:
- Press Control + Command + Q: This shortcut will take you directly to the lock screen.
- Press Control + Shift + Power button: This shortcut will turn your displays off only — background tasks, like music, will continue.
- Press Command + Option + Power button: This shortcut will put your computer into sleep mode.
Note: If you're using an older Mac with a media eject button, press the Eject button in place of the Power button.
Using Hot Corners
If you prefer locking your screen with a flick of the wrist, you can set a shortcut so your screen goes into screensaver mode when you move your pointer to a certain corner of the screen. This feature is called Hot Corners, and here's how to set it up:
1. Click the Apple icon. From the dropdown menu, click "System Preferences."
2. Click "Desktop & Screen Saver"
3. In the window that pops up, navigate to the "Screen Saver" tab, then click "Hot Corners."
4. Click the pop-up menu for the corner you want to use, and choose "Start Screen Saver," then click "OK." Now, whenever you move the cursor to the corner selected, your computer will enter screensaver mode.
Using the Mac Touch Bar
If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can customize it to include a "Screen Lock" icon.
1. Click the Apple icon and open System Preferences.
2. Click "Keyboard."
3.From the Keyboard menu, click "Customize Control Strip."
4. An icon menu will pop up from the bottom of your screen. Find the "Screen Lock" icon and drag it into the touch bar. You can arrange the buttons any way you like.
5. Once complete, click "Done." You'll now be able to lock your screen via the Touch Bar.
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