Apple Watch Stopped Unlocking Your Mac? Here’s the Fix

1 minute read
| Quick Tip

A friend recently had a problem where his Apple Watch stopped unlocking his Mac, and it’s something I’ve experienced, too. Read on to learn the fix that’s worked reliably for me.

If you turned on the “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac” feature, but it stopped working, here’s how to fix it:

  • Go to Apple menu > System Preferences
  • Choose Security & Privacy
  • Click General
  • Uncheck Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac
Unlock Mac with Apple Watch setting

The option for unlocking your Mac with Apple Watch is in Security & Privacy settings

Now restart your Mac and Apple Watch. On your Mac, go to the Apple menu and choose Restart. On your Apple Watch, press and hold the long flat button next to the Digital Crown, then swipe Power Off. After your Apple Watch finishes powering down, press the long button again to turn it back on.

Apple Watch power off option

Use the long button next to the Digital Crown to turn off your Apple Watch

Once your Mac and Apple Watch are back up and running, go to the Security & Privacy preferences on your Mac again and turn on Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.

That’s worked consistently for me, and it worked for my friend, too. Good thing, because letting my Apple Watch automatically unlock my Mac is wonderfully convenient.

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Brett O'Bannon

I almost never take the time to leave a comment on things like this – character flaw, I suppose. But this was so incredibly helpful. I’ve been looking for a solution to this for a week. All other postings I’m sure work but it required so much more of me than your elegant solution. Many thanks!! Brett


Just had this problem after I installed an app called NearLock.

What finally worked: Turning handoff off and back on on my iPhone.

Found this suggestion on:

Had tried this after turning handoff off and back on on the Apple Watch and the Mac, followed by rebooting both of them. So these things could be part of the solution.


This happens to me all. the. time. It’s annoying as fudge. Why does this crap break? Why do I have to reboot to fix it (which, incidentally, is generally all I have to do, I don’t have to go through all the gyrations you describe)? It shouldn’t be this hard to get this right and it certainly shouldn’t be this hard to recover it (now again, I’m finding that I generally only need to reboot but that’s a time-consuming process I don’t like to undertake for this one stupid issue).

Lee Dronick
Lee Dronick

That has a happened to me one or two times. Yes, I love the unlocking feature of the Apple Watch.