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lockdown review Being OCD, I have a few little quirks. I always remember the way I left things. If someone touches something of mine when I’m not around, I can feel that something’s not right. I especially dislike it when my Mac is intruded while I’m not at my desk – that’s invasion of privacy. I got down to it one day and searched for applications which will either protect my Mac when I’m not around or catch the person responsible. Lockdown and MacLoc were it.

Let’s start with Lockdown. It actually has some pedigree since it originates from iAlertU. It uses a few parameters to detect intrusion: motion, MagSafe adapter detachment, keyboard/mouse strokes and lid closure. Lockdown is activated either by pressing the Menu button on the particular Apple Remote paired to the Mac or by entering a password. Once activated, it will beep (akin to a car security system) and display a warning screen – Anti-theft Systems Active.

lockdown review

When triggered by the parameters mentioned above, Lockdown will maximize your system’s volume to sound a very loud alarm which can be set to be as long as 5 minutes, making it very embarrassing for the intruder while he (or she) is trying to shut it off. Little do they know that the alarm can only be neutralized by entering the password again or by pressing on the Menu button on the Apple Remote used to activate Lockdown.

A few seconds after the alarm sounds, Lockdown will use your Mac’s built-in iSight to take a picture of the intruder; and if your email address is entered in its preferences, Lockdown will send an email back to you containing the picture of the person who “tried” to access your Mac.

There is no way to get around Lockdown. Once triggered, it will still continue to sound even if the lid is shut because Lockdown prevents your Mac from sleeping. I’m guessing the only way to completely bypass it is to have a coin handy – to remove the battery and shut down the entire system. So as you can see, it’s not completely foolproof. Lockdown works best in situations where you’re only trying to guard your Mac from being perused while you’re away, or if you’re trying to catch that particular colleague whom you suspect has been messing around on it while you’re at the water fountain.


Lockdown is free but only works with Mac OS X Leopard.

Maybe sounding a deafening alarm at work isn’t such a good idea and you’re thinking that you’ll only require something which will protect your Mac against prying eyes.

macloc apple MacLoc is a handy application which quickly enables Fast User Switching (which is a built-in feature in Mac OS X) to seemingly log you out. Only the Login window will be presented on the screen. This will definitely deter the simpleton busybodies from accessing your computer. Once you’re back at your desk, just log in again and your work is preserved.

How does this differ from the regular ol’ Log Out? When you Log Out, you’re essentially quitting all running applications. Fast User Switching will make all active applications stay active.

There are other ways you could lock your Mac desktop while you’re away from your desk. You could set a password-protected screensaver and one of the 4 hot-corners to activate the screensaver immediately but a violent swing of the mouse could set it off at any time – very unproductive at the workplace. You could also sleep your Mac but it’s actually quite a hassle to sleep and awaken your Mac each time you need to leave your workstation for 5 minutes. So, the easiest solution would be to use one of the 2 applications mentioned above.

Again, Lockdown and MacLoc are both free but Lockdown is only available for Mac OS X Leopard.

How do you deter prying eyes or itchy fingers from attacking your computer at work? Do share with us in the comments.

  1. Magenta
    November 5, 2008 at 11:48 am

    You don't even need MacLoc to lock your computer. Just go into System Preferences -> Security -> "Require password to wake computer from sleep". Next go to Dashboard & Expose and set one of the active screen corners to "start screensaver". When you want to "log out" just move your mouse to that corner.

    An easy, quick "log out", but your programs remain running.


    • Aibek
      November 5, 2008 at 2:50 pm

      Cool tip!

    • Jackson
      November 5, 2008 at 11:53 pm

      Yup, I mentioned that at the end of the post. MacLoc's just a glorified way to do it.

  2. Eric
    November 3, 2008 at 3:57 am

    This works great, but what if your Mac is stolen when it is off, or in your laptop bag? I did a search for "mac theft recovery" and came across this:

    Not free, but pretty freaking cool, gets location off of wi-fi networks AND uses the camera to take a picture of the bastard and uploads it to your Flickr account.

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