MacID: Unlock your Mac with Touch ID

January 19, 2015

Even though my 27-inch iMac is in my home office and usually not apt to be “played with” by unauthorized personnel other than my cats, I make sure that it auto-locks whenever I’m away from the keyboard for even a few minutes. Of course, that means entering my long and ever-changing password every time I need to get back to work, and I’ve often wished that the iMac had a Touch ID pad. Well, with the new MacID app (US$3.99), the iMac now has the next best thing – it can be unlocked from my iPhone with just a tap on Touch ID.

The app is a cinch to set up. It’s a fast download from the App Store, and there’s a companion app for Mac that you download for free from developer Kane Cheshire’s website. Run the app on your Mac, identify the iOS device you want to use as a “key” for your Mac, then enter your Mac’s password twice. That’s it.

The Mac app runs in background and is loaded automatically when the machine boots up. For the iOS app, it’s a simple matter of launching, then selecting the Mac you wish to authorize.

MacID – Apps for iOS and OS X

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Now when your Mac is locked and you wake it with a tap on a the touchpad or keyboard, you receive a notification on your iOS device. You authorize the unlocking of the Mac with a simple swipe and tap on the Touch ID pad.

An extra added feature is that if you don’t have your iPhone or iPad nearby but do have a Magic Trackpad, you can set up Tap To Unlock, which uses a pre-set pattern of finger taps (like two fingers, one finger, three fingers) to authorize unlocking the Mac.

I found MacID to work very well… until it didn’t. At one point it didn’t seem to be talking to my iPhone, although both the Mac and iOS apps were showing that they were in communications with each other. Well, it’s a version 1.0 app, so a bug must have slipped through… A quick shutdown and relaunch of the Mac app made everthing groovy again.

Unlike the old Knock app (also $3.99), you don’t need to knock on your iPhone to unlock your device. But like that app, it’s a great way to keep prying eyes away from your Mac and still be able to unlock it very quickly.

MacID works with any Mac or iOS device that supports Bluetooth LE, which includes the 2011 and newer MacBook Air, 2012 and newer MacBook Pro, 2012 and newer iMac, 2011 and newer Mac mini, and the 2013 and newer Mac Pro. On the iOS side, MacID supports pretty much any device with Touch ID, and works with a passcode on those devices without Touch ID – supported are the iPhone 4S and newer, iPad mini (any generation), iPad Air (any generation), iPad 4, and iPod touch (5th generation).

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