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Touch ID fingerprint recognition is replacing passwords on new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, but what if your Mac doesn’t have a fingerprint reader? The good news is that you don’t need to spend a thousand dollars on a new computer. You can replace your password on macOS Catalina without Touch ID if you wear an Apple Watch.

How it works

Strong and unique passwords are critical to securing the data on your Mac. If your computer is lost or stolen, your password is the only thing keeping a stranger from accessing everything on your Mac including photos, email, and personal files.

Using a strong password is also important on the Apple Watch — even if it’s just a four-digit passcode. Just avoid passcodes that are easy to guess like 1234 and 0000.

Things really get interesting if you’re a Mac user and wear the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch knows that you’re wearing it if it’s unlocked and on your wrist. Your Mac can know that you’re nearby based on your Apple Watch distance.

macOS Catalina uses this information to determine that it’s you sitting in front of your Mac. With your permission, you can bypass entering your Mac password every time you log in or need to authenticate with your Mac password.

You still need your password occasionally like with Touch ID. This includes when you first turn on your Mac to log in or reboot. After you enter your Mac password once, just wearing your unlocked Apple Watch is as good as Touch ID on any Mac.

Bonus tip: you can unlock your Apple Watch automatically if you use your passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID from your iPhone. This means your fingerprint or facial recognition can be used to ultimately replace your Mac password through the Apple Watch.

New features

Apple Watch isn’t just great for unlocking your Mac after it wakes from sleep. Starting in macOS Catalina, you can use the Apple Watch to replace your Mac password without Touch ID in even more places. Apple Watch can unlock:

System Preferences to change Mac settings

Locked notes in Apple Notes

Saved passwords in Safari’s Preferences

You can also use the Apple Watch to replace your Mac password without Touch ID when installing new software.

This new feature in macOS Catalina works differently from unlocking your Mac with the Apple Watch. Logging in with the Apple Watch happens automatically so the experience feels instantaneous.

Even if your Mac has Touch ID, using the Apple Watch to replace your Mac password can be more convenient than reaching for the fingerprint reader and waiting for it to authenticate. There’s no option for Touch ID if you’re using an older MacBook or any desktop Mac like the iMac, Mac mini, or Mac Pro, but Apple Watch solves that problem.

What you need

The awesome auto-unlock feature for Mac users with the Apple Watch works on every Apple Watch. You just need software version watchOS 3 or later and a compatible Mac running macOS Sierra or later:

MacBook introduced in 2024 or later

MacBook Pro introduced in late 2013 or later

MacBook Air introduced in 2013 or later

Mac mini introduced in 2014 or later

iMac introduced in 2013 or later

iMac Pro (all models)

Mac Pro introduced in 2013 or later

No Touch ID fingerprint sensor required! Just be sure your Mac has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on, you’re using the same iCloud Apple ID on both the watch and Mac, your Apple ID uses two-factor authentication for extra security, and you’re using a passcode on your Apple Watch.

Want to use the newer features for replacing your Mac password in more places with Apple Watch? Every Apple Watch except for the first generation model (Series 1 and later) can run the watchOS 6 software version that introduces this feature.

Your Mac needs to run macOS Catalina (version 10.15 or later). These Mac computers are compatible with macOS Catalina:

MacBook (Early 2024 or newer)

MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or newer)

MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer)

Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)

iMac (Late 2012 or newer)

iMac Pro (2024)

Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)

Setting up

Ready to get started? If you have the right Apple Watch and Mac with the right software, turning on the feature to replace your Mac password without Touch ID in macOS Catalina is a quick one time process.

Check the box next to your Apple Watch under ‘Use Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac’

Be sure to remember your Mac password. You won’t have to type it in nearly as often thanks to the Apple Watch — even if your Mac doesn’t have Touch ID.

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How To Unlock Your Mac And Approve Password Authentication Requests With Your Apple Watch

Find out how to enable and use the Auto Unlock feature that automatically unlocks your Mac when wearing your Apple Watch. You can also use your Apple Watch to quickly authenticate and approve requests that would otherwise require you to type your Mac’s password.

With the Auto Unlock Continuity feature, logging into your Mac is as easy as wearing an Apple Watch on your wrist, no password typing required. Auto Unlock uses Bluetooth proximity information to determine when the watch you’re wearing and your Mac are at arm’s length.

Aside from convenience, this feature eliminates the need to type your password manually. This ensures no one can see you entering your Mac password in public places, thus helping you secure your computer.

In this step-by-step tutorial, we will take you through the process of setting up and using Apple Watch Auto Unlock on your Mac.

Supported models

Auto Unlock works on all Apple Watch models running watchOS 3 and later and most 2013 and later Macs running macOS Sierra or later. Note that if you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, then your Mac must be on macOS High Sierra and later.

In order to use Auto Unlock to approve Mac’s password requests, your Apple Watch must be on watchOS 6 or later, and your Mac must be running macOS Catalina or later.

Prerequisites

Turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your Mac and Apple Watch.

Make sure your Mac and Apple Watch are signed in using the same Apple ID.

Make sure a passcode is set on your Apple Watch.

Set up Apple Watch Auto Unlock on Mac

Open System Settings on your Mac running macOS Ventura or later.

Turn on the switch next to your Apple Watch’s name.

It may take a few seconds to sync, and then you’re all set!

On macOS Monterey or earlier

Go in the General section and check the box for ‘Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac‘ or ‘Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.’

How to Auto Unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch

Now that you have set up the Auto Unlock feature, it’s time to use it.

1) Make sure you’re wearing your Apple Watch and it’s unlocked. If it isn’t unlocked, you will see a tiny padlock icon on the top of the screen. In this case, press the Digital Crown and enter your watch password to unlock it.

3) Now, for the purpose of this test, walk away from your Mac.

4) Next, walk near your Mac.

5) Hit any key on the keyboard to wake your Mac.

6) The moment your Mac wakes up, you will feel a vibration on your wrist confirming your Mac was auto-unlocked using your Apple Watch. It will say, “Your Mac name: Unlocked by this Apple Watch.”

Important: Auto Unlock just unlocks your Mac. It cannot be used to automatically lock your Mac when you step away.

Tip: Have two or more Macs? You can unlock all of them with the same Apple Watch. I have a MacBook Pro and a Mac mini. I turned on the Auto Unlock feature on both.

Important: Is your Mac asking you to type its password?

Auto Unlock with Apple Watch will not work, and you must enter your Mac’s password in these situations:

You just restarted your Mac.

You shut it down and powered it on.

You logged out of a user account on Mac.

In any of these situations, simply type your Mac’s password once, and then Auto Unlock will start working. This is similar to how Face ID or Touch ID start working only after you have entered your iPhone’s passcode once after restarting it.

How to approve Mac’s password requests with Apple Watch

You may have noticed that your Mac asks you to enter the admin password when you try to change some settings in System Settings or System Preferences. Similarly, when you want to see your iCloud Keychain passwords in Safari, approve app installation, or open a locked note, your Mac asks for your system password.

In most of these situations, you can use your Apple Watch to approve these requests without having to type your Mac’s admin password:

1) Open System Settings on your Mac and go to Lock Screen.

2) Turn on the switch next to Show message when locked.

3) Your Mac will immediately ask you to enter the password. At the same time, you will also feel an alert on your Apple Watch.

4) Instead of typing your Mac’s password manually, just look at your Apple Watch, and double-press the side button to authenticate. The popup on your Mac will vanish as your Apple Watch has successfully approved the request to enter the admin password.

This was just one example. Similarly, you can use Apple Watch to authenticate elsewhere, like accessing Safari passwords, iCloud Keychain in System Settings, etc.

In the screenshots below, you can see different icons on the Mac’s screen, signifying where the authentication request will be approved.

Important: It won’t work everywhere

You can’t approve Mac’s admin password everywhere in System Settings. For example, when you want to add an additional fingerprint to your Mac, and it asks you to enter the password, then you must use Touch ID or type the password.

Similarly, when you try to make changes to sensitive settings like FileVault, you will be asked to type your Mac’s password.

Besides that, I couldn’t unlock locked notes with my Apple Watch, but Apple Support says you should be able to.

Fix Apple Watch Auto Unlock not working on Mac

Follow these solutions if you cannot unlock your Mac or approve password requests with your Apple Watch:

Take your wrist very close to your Mac. And don’t forget to wake your Mac by pressing any key on its keyboard.

Turn off the Auto Unlock feature from System Settings (steps above), restart your Mac, and turn Auto Unlock back on.

Quit and reopen the app (like System Settings, Safari, Notes, etc.) where you’re trying to use the approve with Apple Watch feature.

Shut down your Mac, wait a minute, and then turn it back on.

Update your Apple Watch and your Mac to the latest version of the operating system available.

If your Apple Watch doesn’t show up as a trusted device on the Apple ID webpage, Auto Unlock won’t work. If that’s the case, unpair the watch from your iPhone, then pair it again to resolve this issue.

Wireless connection too weak for Apple Watch to unlock this Mac

Sometimes, you may see a message on your Mac’s Lock Screen that says, “Wireless connection too weak for Apple Watch to unlock this Mac.” In this case, just move your wrist very close to your Mac, and it should work.

You can also press the esc key to turn off the Mac’s screen, and then wake it again by pressing any key. After this, your Mac should unlock automatically with your Apple Watch.

Touch ID vs. Apple Watch Auto Unlock

The Auto Unlock feature is terrific if you have an old Mac without Touch ID. However, if your MacBook has Touch ID or, like me, if you use Apple’s Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, you may find Touch ID to be more reliable and consistent than Apple Watch Auto Unlock.

But still, Auto Unlock is proof of how well various Apple devices work with one another, and you should give it a try. You may just fall in love with the convenience!

On the same note: How to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch

How To Use Apple Watch To Get Through Your Workday

You might not realize it, but if you wear an Apple Watch, that handy wearable can help you a lot throughout your workday. Sure, you might use it to check emails, view your appointments, and even answer calls if your iPhone isn’t nearby. But with some of the built-in apps and features, your Apple Watch can be a helpful tool for getting through a stressful day of work.

Stand Reminders

Like many of us, you may do most, if not all, of your work behind a desk. And when you’re focused on what you’re doing, it can be easy to forget to stretch. This is important to your health and can help if you struggle with back problems.

The Stand Reminder on Apple Watch will give you a gentle tap every 50 minutes to let you know it’s time to stand up.

To enable the feature, open the Watch app on your iPhone and select Activity. Then, enable the toggle for Stand Reminders.

Now when you receive that reminder, stand up and stretch.

Work Break Reminders

Along with reminders to stand up, you may benefit from reminders to take a break. If you use the Pomorodo technique while you work, then you can easily set a timer on your Apple Watch for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, take a break for five minutes. Then go back to work for another 25 minutes and continue this pattern.

Open the Timer app on your Apple Watch.

Tap Custom.

Enter 25 minutes and tap Start. (You can also use 20 or 30 minutes.)

Break Alarms

If you’re not keen on the Pomodoro method, you can still use the alarm to remind you to take a break. Plan to work until a time and set the alarm. Then take a break and do the same for another break later.

Open the Alarms app on your Apple Watch.

Use the Digital Crown to scroll down and select Add Alarm.

Enter the time and tap Set or the green checkmark. The toggle for the alarm will automatically turn on.

When time’s up, take your break and set another alarm for later.

Tip: Each time you add an alarm in the app, it will be on the list. So, you can easily set a few for throughout the day and enable them. Then every day, those same alarms will repeat for you. Additionally, you can tap an existing alarm and set it to repeat every day, on weekdays, or on selected days!

Breathe Reminders

Another helpful tool on Apple Watch is the Breathe app. With it, you spend just a few minutes taking some deep breaths. You can close your eyes, breathe deeply, and hopefully wash away some of your stress or anxiety.

To enable these reminders, open the Watch app on your iPhone and select Mindfulness. Then, do the following:

Select Allow Notifications or Send to Notification Center at the top, depending on how you want to receive your reminders.

Your watch will notify you at the start of the day and the end. Besides that, you can tap Add Reminder to set a custom time when you want a break. You can even set it to repeat every day.

Optionally, you can go down and tap Breath Rate and select how many breaths per minute you want the app to instruct you to take, from four to 10.

Tap the arrow to head back or close the app.

Then when you receive your Breathe reminder, just follow the prompts on your watch.

Task Reminders

One more way that your Apple Watch can help you with your workday is with the Reminders app. Whether you set up task reminders directly on your watch or on your iPhone, you can receive those notifications on your wrist.

Open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap Notifications.

Select Reminders.

Choose to either Mirror my iPhone or set up a Custom notification. For Custom, pick either Allow Notifications or Send to Notification Center, depending on how you want to see the alerts.

Optionally, you can enable the toggles for Sound and Haptic to go along with the notification you receive.

Getting through your workday can be a lot easier with these tips for apps on your Apple Watch. Whether you need a reminder to take a short break or take a deep breath, you have the tools you need on your wrist.

Read next:

How To Reset Apple Watch Password When You Forgot

Did you forget your Apple Watch passcode? You can’t just remember it? Is your Watch saying “wrong Passcode, try again in ‘x’ mins”.

You may want to set a passcode to protect the information that you have on your Watch, but what if you forget your passcode? This, in fact, happened to me. I just could not unlock my Watch that had not been used for a period of time.

If you keep entering the wrong passcodes, your watch will disable itself. Please note that Apple Watch includes a setting called Erase Data. If this is enabled, your Watch will be erased after entering wrong passcodes for 10 times. If you forget the passcode, you will have to restore your Watch.

This article explains how you can you erase your Watch and start from scratch or restore from a backup. You can do this even if you do not have the paired iPhone. It is highly likely that you have a backup because your data on your Watch is backed up automatically to your paired iPhone.

If your Watch is disabled because of failed passcode attempts, or if you forget your passcode, then this article is for you.

Note: Resetting your Apple Watch back to factory settings will erase everything on it, however you can restore it from a backup if you have one. Furthermore, it is highly likely that Activation Lock is enabled on your Watch. You’ll need to turn off “Activation Lock” and for this, you will need to remember your Apple ID and password.

See also: iPhone, iPad Activation Problems

Further note before we start, the whole process may take some time.

See also: Apple Watch Battery Life Problems, How To Fix

What To Do If You Forgot Your Apple Watch Password

Step 1: Erase your Watch.

There are two ways you can do this. The first one is to use your Watch alone. And the second one is to use your paired iPhone.

Erase your Watch using your Apple Watch

1. Place the Watch on its charger and plug it into a power source. Do not disconnect. You can disconnect when you complete these steps.

2. Press and hold the side button until you see the Power Off slider.

3. Press firmly the Power Off slider. This will reveal a new menu.

4. Tap Erase all content and settings. You will be asked if you are sure. Tap Continue.

Erase your Watch using your paired iPhone

1. Keep your paired iPhone and Watch close to each other.

3. Tap Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings.

Step 2: This step involves setting up your Watch.

You need to use an iPhone. You can set up a new Watch or restore it from a backup. Make sure that your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS and check that Bluetooth is on, and make sure that your iPhone is in close range of your Watch. Lastly, ensure that your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Here is how:

1. Press and hold the side button and turn on your Watch.

2. A message will appear on your iPhone saying “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch”. Tap Continue. Alternatively, you can also tap Start Pairing on your Watch.

3. You will see lots of dots. You’ll be asked to hold your iPhone so the Apple Watch is visible in Camera. Alternatively, you can tap “Pair Apple Watch Manually”.

4. When you are asked, choose a backup to restore your Watch. And follow the onscreen instructions. If Activation Lock is previously enabled, you will have to enter your Apple ID and password to set this Watch up.

See also: Can I Unlock My Device From a Previous Owner’s Apple ID?

During the process, you will create a new passcode. Then your devices will sync. Again this whole process makes take some time. For me, it took about 45 minutes. However, I also update the Watch to the latest versions os watchOS during the setup.

See also: How To Restore Your Mac To Factory Settings

How To Use 2Fa And The New Password Manager In Macos Monterey

macOS 12 Monterey brings several updates to Safari’s built-in password manager. It sports a streamlined user interface and provides new features like exporting and importing passwords, creating secure notes, and auto-generating two-factor authentication codes.

It’s also accessible outside of Safari, making it perfect if you want to look up a password without opening the browser. If you upgraded to macOS Monterey or later, read on to learn everything you need to know about using the new password manager on your Mac.

Table of Contents

Open the New Password Manager

Alternatively, you can open it without launching Safari. To do that, open the Apple menu and choose System Preferences. Then, select the category labeled Passwords.

View and Copy Passwords

The new password manager appears the same regardless of whether you open it via Safari or the System Preferences. The left pane lists all saved login credentials in alphabetical order, with a Search box at the top to help you locate specific entries faster.

If you have easy-to-guess, reused, or compromised passwords (Apple regularly cross-checks them against known data breaches), you will see them at the top of the list. It’s best to update them as soon as possible.

Add and Remove Passwords

Although Safari lets you save passwords whenever you create or fill them in the first time, you can always use the password manager to add passwords directly to Apple Keychain. To do that, select the Plus button at the bottom right of the windows, fill in the Website, User Name, and Password fields, and select Add Password.

Edit Passwords and Add Notes

When editing passwords, you also have the opportunity to add secure text-based notes into the Notes field. For example, you can type in answers to security questions, a list of backup codes, the purpose for creating an account with the website (in case you forget that later), etc.

Additionally, the Enter Setup Key button allows you to add the two-factor setup key for a site. You will learn more about that further below.

Import and Export Passwords

If you want to back up your passwords or transfer them to a different password manager, you have the option of exporting them to the CSV (comma-separated values) file format. To do that, select the More icon (three dots) at the bottom left corner of the password manager window, select Export All Passwords, and specify a storage location.

Conversely, you can choose to import passwords from CSV files into Apple Keychain. Again, select the More icon, but pick the option labeled Import Passwords instead.

Generate Two-Factor Authentication Codes

You can then proceed with the verification process on the site by auto-filling the 2FA verification code that the password manager generates for you. It will continue to auto-fill verification codes while attempting to log into the site going forward.

You can also set up two-factor authentication for a site even when using a different browser or app. While viewing the QR code, just look for an option like Can’t scan code? to reveal a 2FA setup key—copy it to your clipboard. Then, open the password manager via System Preferences, select the password for the site (manually add it if it isn’t present), select Enter Security Key, and paste the setup key.

Wrapping Up

Safari’s new password manager in macOS Monterey is a significant improvement, but it still falls short of dedicated third-party password management apps. If you want more, consider switching to 1Password, LastPass, and Dashlane, or get to grips with Keychain Access.

How To Use Airplay On Apple Watch

AirPlay on Apple devices lets you stream songs and videos to other AirPlay-compatible speakers and TV. But here’s the less-known fact: you can also use AirPlay on your Apple Watch. 

Your Apple Watch has an AirPlay audio icon in its Control Center (accessed by swiping up from the watch screen’s bottom). This makes it possible to choose which device you want to play music from. Here’s how to use AirPlay on your Apple Watch.

Understand what AirPlay on Apple Watch is and its limitations

Background: The tiny speaker on your Apple Watch gives Siri answers, system feedback, etc. But it cannot use this speaker to play music. Thus, you always have to connect your Apple Watch to a compatible device like AirPods, AirPods Max, Beats headphones, third-party Bluetooth headphones, speakers, or Apple TV.

This may also make you think that you can AirPlay directly from your watch to other AirPlay devices. But you must understand that it’s just a button to choose audio output to the limited devices mentioned above. You can’t use this to connect to AirPlay Speakers, etc. 

You’re limited to Bluetooth devices. This fact can be confirmed when you tap the watch’s AirPlay icon from Control Center → tap Connect a Device → it opens the Bluetooth pairing screen of the watch Settings.

Apple Insider says that AirPlay is limited on the watch to preserve battery life. I couldn’t agree more.

One more thing: You cannot stream (AirPlay) songs directly from your Apple Watch to HomePod. But if the HomePod is playing songs via, say, iPhone, you can control it using your Apple Watch.

Conclusion: AirPlay on Apple Watch is limited in functionality. It is a “select Bluetooth output device” button.

Now that you understand the crux, here’s how to use that Apple Watch AirPlay icon to select or change the audio output from your wrist.

How to use AirPlay in WatchOS

Press the Digital Crown and tap Music.

Tap Library.

Scenario 1: If no Bluetooth devices are connected, you’ll see a screen that says “Choose where to play audio.” Tap on a device name. (left image below)

To change the sound output from your wrist, tap the AirPlay icon at the bottom left.

Notes:

You can do the same process from the watch Control Center.

If music is playing from your Apple Watch, you may not see HomePod as one of the options in AirPlay. But if music is playing on the iPhone, and you’re controlling it with your Apple Watch, you may see the option for HomePod. (see the steps and image below)

How to use AirPlay icon to choose devices connected to iPhone

Open Music on your watch.

Tap On iPhone.

Control HomePod using Apple Watch

Open Now Playing on your Apple Watch.

If you see Watch or iPhone at the top left, tap < to go back.

Scroll to choose HomePod from the Now Playing screen.

Note: Make sure your HomePod, iPhone, and Apple Watch are all connected to the same Wi-Fi.

Enjoy AirPlaying audio content on your Apple Watch!

This is how you can use the AirPlay icon on your Apple Watch. I hope this guide helps answer your questions. 

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Author Profile

Marcus

Marcus is a freelance tech writer/editor with a focus on succinctly explaining consumer devices and their software. His previous work has been published on MakeUseOf where he covered everything from iOS to Git and UI design.

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