MacID - Unlock your Mac using iPhone Touch ID

Windows laptops have long supported the fingerprint scanners to allow quick login without a password. Being a Mac user for over a decade, I’ve always fancied having the feature to be available for Macs too. Apple has taken way to long to provide the hardware support for the same. I read about few apps that allowed proximity support for automatic lock/unlocking. These apps used Bluetooth connection with a compatible device to enable lock/ to unlock the Mac. They were quite unreliable at that point.

Apple then launched iPhone 5S with the Touch ID embedded in the Home button. This was an initial introduction of fingerprint scanners in the Apple devices. This allowed unlocking of the iPhone with the lock code by the authorised person only. iPhones and Macs have been well known to connect way better than other devices to each other. This brought new ways for apps to extend communication among the devices.

Apple recently enabled the feature of unlocking the Mac, via Apple Watch. This was a big feature for the latest MacOS Sierra. It also came as a disappointment for the iPhone users without Apple Watch. After buying the first iPhone 2 months back, the hunt for a way to lock/unlock the Mac started. There were few apps on the App Store.

First was Near Lock, which felt little unreliable after few days of use. Then came MacID. The website looks vibrant and too much pink. MacID is a paid app in the iTunes App Store for $4.00 (approx. INR 260), but its worth the price.
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website

What is MacID

MacID does one task, it simplifies the way to lock/unlock your Mac. It takes away the hassle of manual entering of the password. MacID uses the Touch ID on iOS for iOS enabled devices. It also works well with Apple Watch to allow for unlocking the Mac without a password. It also makes it possible to lock the Mac. Another feature of MacID is, Proximity Wake. Depending on the distance between the Mac and iPhone, it locks/unlocks the Mac. Locks when you walk away and unlock when you move closer.

MacID offers an innovative Tap to Unlock option as well. Tap to Unlock allows using a custom tap pattern onto the trackpad or even the Magic Mouse from Apple. Other features include Control audio, share clipboards and start screensavers.

tap to unlock

Compatible Devices

MacID uses Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) available in Mac and iPhones, iPad and Apple Watch. MacID works with all iPhones starting with iPhone 5s, the first device to support Touch ID. The app is also compatible with iPhone 4s and 5, but without the Touch ID, it loses its point.

Device support

Setup & Use

MacID requires both iPhone app along with the companion app on the Mac to function. To setup the iPhone, MacID needs to run on Mac first. The app needs Bluetooth on both devices to On. MacID will then scan for the iPhone and push your Mac login information. The password stays on the Mac itself, while the iPhone Touch ID allows to log in. Hence, be careful when selecting the iPhone, if there are many available around.

Mac app

The Mac app plays an important role, it allows to authenticate or remove the iOS device at any time. Mac app helps setting up the proximity wake feature as well. Proximity wake is not the ideal setup recommended. Bluetooth LE range can be quite a long way, making the Mac insecure.

Mac_app

The app for both Mac and iOS works on more than one device. Hence allowing to unlock a Mac with many iOS devices, or use one iOS device to unlock many Macs. There is one catch, MacID can only unlock one account on the Mac. The limitation to only one account is due to the account password being stored on the Mac only.

iOS app

Using MacID

Once setup, MacID is simple to use. To unlock the Mac, select it from the list of devices on the iPhone, then use the TouchID sensor to unlock. MacID doesn’t need to run in the foreground. Once you are out of range of the Mac, the TouchID will pop up when you return.

To lock the Mac allow it to sleep usually, or use the MacID menu bar icon and select the Lock option.

Apple is popular for creating a wall when it comes to security. Based on the same security principle, third-party apps like MacID doesn't have to access any personal data. True for both fingerprint and login credentials.

Experience

MacID definitely makes you lazy when you need to type your passwords again. Windows has always had the shortcut to lock the laptop/computers using the keys. Use windows button + L on your keyboard and it locks the windows. Mac doesn't have this easy option to lock. MacID locks the Mac, the moment you walk away from it, provided the setup iPhone is walking along with you.

auto-lock

The MacID app helps with locking the Mac as well. It also makes it super easy to enable family members from accessing your Mac. Even without sharing the password.

Few weeks of using the MacID, I bumped across a compatible Pebble app for MacID. This felt like a blessing in disguise. MacID website only lists official support for Apple Watch. Pebble app felt like I got super-power. After doing the installation and setup, I could lock/unlock my Mac using my Pebble. Pebble needs to be connected to the iPhone 6S for MacID to work.

Pebble app

The CON: MacID can be trusted to work every time to lock/unlock. There have been instances, where my Mac was in the sleep mode, yet the iPhone kept getting MacID notifications. This could also be due to the latest release of MacOS Sierra which might have broken few things.

Conclusion

The decision to choose between Near Lock and MacID was difficult due to one being free while other paid. After having used MacID for 2.5 months, that is as long as I've had both my iPhone and Mac together, I'm impressed. MacID is one app, that I'd most definitely recommend to everyone owning an iOS device with TouchID and a Mac. If you own a Pebble, there is a bonus for free.

MacID helps take your Mac and iOS experience to the next level.

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