Losing the Mac would be scary, but getting stolen would be a nightmare. Your personal information can become easily accessible to a stranger, lose important files, and need to replace your computer.
Fortunately, the Find My app has Activation Lock, a feature you can use to prevent your Mac from being accessed or used by anyone other than you.
It's a powerful security feature that can actually cause you trouble when you sell your Mac or send it in for service. We will tell you about this and about it in the following sections.
Here's how Activation Lock works on Mac
As mentioned earlier, Activation Lock is a feature in the Find My app. The main function of Find My is to help you locate your Apple devices in case they should ever be lost. It can be used to find your lost Mac or see if you left your Apple Watch at home.
You can also use Find My to remotely access your Apple devices to mark them as lost or to erase data on them.
The activation lock works within this remote access function. This feature requires someone to enter their Apple ID and password before they can turn off Find My, sign out of your device, or erase and reactivate your device.
With Activation Lock on, someone cannot erase and sell your Mac if they don't have your Apple ID information. In fact, it can be difficult for them to use their Mac with their Mac turned on.
Here's how to set up Activation Lock on your Mac
Activation Lock turns on automatically when you set up Find My on your Mac, as long as your Mac meets certain requirements.
Your Mac must be running macOS Catalina or higher. Your Mac must also have the Apple T2 security chip. Check the list of Apple Mac models with the T2 chip to see if your Mac is there.
In addition, two-factor authentication must be activated on your Apple ID Safe start-up under Startup security utility to adjust Full security.
This is the default setting for a safe start. Unless you have previously opened the Startup Security Utility, you should make all settings. However, if you want to check these settings on your Mac, see the Apple Security Support Utility article for the Boot Security Utility.
If your Mac meets all of these requirements, all you need to do is set up the Find My app to activate Activation Lock:
to open System settings and go to security. Click on that privacy Tab, and then select Location services from the menu on the left.
Click the padlock in the lower left corner of the window and enter your password. You can now make changes in Location Services.
Check the Activate location services Box sits at the top of the app list. Then find Find mine in the app list and check the box to the left of it. Click the padlock again to lock the settings again.
Now you need to enable Find My in iCloud. Stay in System Preferences but go to Apple ID. Choose iCloud from the left menu.
Scroll through the list of apps and make sure the box is to the left of it Find my Mac is checked. Also click on Options to the right of Find My Mac and make sure Find my Mac and Find my network are both set to On.
The activation lock should now be set up and activated.
You can check this by clicking Apple menu> About This Mac> System Report. Under hardware, click on Activation lock status and make sure it's set to activated.
Turn off Activation Lock on your Mac
Activation Lock is a great feature that needs to be activated if you have a Mac. However, if you are planning to sell your Mac, you need to make sure this feature is turned off.
You'll also need to turn it off when you send your Mac to Apple for service. When this option is enabled, Apple cannot fully access the device and therefore may not be able to repair your computer.
To do this, you can turn off Activation Lock by checking Find My as. The activation lock is automatically activated in the app.
To turn Find My off, go to System Preferences> Apple ID. Click on iCloud Click in the left menu Options next to Find my Mac in the app list. Press the Turn off Button to the right of Find my Mac and enter your password.
Find My will now be disabled.
If you've had to use Activation Lock and other Find My security features on your Mac and now you've got your Mac back, turning off Activation Lock is a little different.
Your screen should ask for your Apple ID and password. Just enter this and the activation lock should turn off.
You can turn off Activation Lock by also turning off Find My remotely. You can do this if you've forgotten to turn off Find My before selling or giving away your Mac.
To remotely disable Find My and Activation Lock, go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID. Click on Find the iPhone and you will be taken to a map window.
Click on that All devices Drop down menu at the top of the page. Select the device that you want to disable Find My on by clicking on it.
Before disabling Find My, we strongly recommend that you press the button Delete (device) Button in the displayed window. This will erase all information on the device so it's fresh and new to a new owner, or it will be erased before a thief can break into the device.
Click to turn off Find My Remove from account. This will sign you out of iCloud on that device and allow you to add new Apple ID information instead.
There is another way to remotely turn off Activation Lock. This method is provided in case you buy a used Apple device but cannot return to the original owner. When you've completely forgotten your Apple ID and password and want to completely reset your device.
Go to Apple's How to Disable Activation Lock page and below Do you need additional assistance, press the Getting started Shortcut. You'll need to send your email address, device serial number, and original purchase details in order for Apple to help you unlock your device.
Your device cannot be in lost mode to do this, nor is this feature currently available to customers outside of the United States. However, if you provide enough information and can meet those requirements, Apple will update you via email and your device should eventually unlock.
Leave Activation Lock on your Mac
Activation Lock is a great feature if you've ever misplaced or stolen your Mac. We recommend leaving it activated on each of your Apple devices to ensure that your private data is inaccessible to potential thieves.
There are moments when you may want to turn it off, and we hope our guide above will help you with that. Most of the time, however, we recommend that you keep it working and be a little more certain that your Mac is safe even in the worst case scenario.
8 Ways To Make Traveling With Your Mac Safe And Easy
Are you traveling with your MacBook? Here are some key tips to help secure your machine and make it easier to carry around than ever.
About the author
(13 articles published)
Jessica has been writing technical articles since 2018 and loves to knit, crochet and embroider little things in her free time.
By Jessica Lanman
Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up for our newsletter to receive tech tips, reviews, free e-books, and exclusive offers!
One more step …!
Please confirm your email address in the email we just sent you.