Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Disabling the MacBook Screen Lock Key

Mark Dominus:

If you tap the mystery button momentarily, the screen locks, which is very convenient, I guess, if you have to pee a lot. But they put the mystery button right above the delete key, and several times a day I fat-finger the delete key, tap the corner of the mystery button, and the screen locks. Then I have to stop what I am doing and type in my password to unlock the screen again.


This question was tough to search for. I found a lot of questions about disabling touch ID, about configuring the touch ID key to lock the screen, basically every possible incorrect permutation of what I actually wanted. I did eventually find what I wanted on Stack Exchange and on Quora — but no useful answers.


The key to the mystery was provided by Roslyn Chu. She suggested this page from 2014 which has an incantation that worked back in ancient times. That incantation didn’t work on my computer, but it put me on the trail to the right one.


defaults write com.apple.loginwindow DisableScreenLockImmediate -bool yes

Update (2023-02-01): Robin Kunde:

I actually want to use the button to lock the screen, but for me it is too unreliable. It locks only half the times I press it, and if I rest my finger too long after pressing, Touch ID immediately unlocks the screen again.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

This guy sounds super disgruntled. Why didn't he just put a piece of tape over the button if he's not going to use the TouchID anyway? Or something like those 3M sticky bumpers, to keep his finger from wandering into the Touch ID area? Too easy?

I like touchid, but I agree that the UX here is not intuitive. There should be a sepearte on-off-lock button in my opinion. I tried to find a way to put my Macbook to sleep using touchid button and could not figure it out on my own. Now I use Alfred to accomplish the same thing or just close the lid.

@Ben G
The Touch ID button on a MacBook Pro is an actual button; putting tape over it won't prevent it from getting pressed and locking the screen.

On my 2012 14-inch, what I occasionally see is that I lock it by pressing that button, then walk elsewhere (say, shut the window), walk past the laptop again, and have my Watch unlock the Mac because I'm _just_ close enough, twenty seconds later. Shouldn't there be some kind of "only unlock if it hasn't recently been locked" cooldown?

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