How to Fix Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac

Apple Watch not unlocking Mac

Is your Apple Watch not unlocking your Mac automatically? 

Auto-unlocking your Mac with a few taps on your Apple Watch is magical. You no longer have to type your long password every time you need to open your computer. Easy-peasy. But what if your Apple Watch suddenly stopped unlocking your Mac?

Apple’s ecosystem is its biggest advantage. The interaction between Apple devices can take user experience to another level. Sure, your watch can sometimes fail to unlock your Mac automatically, but since the feature is part of an ecosystem, it’s fixable. You only have to re-establish the connection between devices.

Today, we’ll guide you through all possible solutions to this problem. Each method comes with easy-to-follow instructions for your convenience. Here’s how to fix the issue of an Apple Watch not unlocking Mac.

Let’s jump in! 

1. Perform General Troubleshooting Methods.

Before you move on to more complex solutions, perform basic troubleshooting first.

Apple Watch not unlocking Mac

Here are some of the general troubleshooting methods you can try:

  • Make sure your devices are compatible: The Auto Unlock feature is available for all Apple Watch models, but it only works for a 2013 Mac or newer.
  • Update your watchOS and macOS: You need watchOS 3 or later on the Series 0, 1, and 2. If you have the Series 3 or higher though, you’re required to be on watch OS 4 or later. For your Mac, you need macOS Sierra or newer.
  • Be sure both devices are signed in to one iCloud account: Features that depend on Apple’s ecosystem only work when the devices use the same Apple ID.
  • Make sure to enable the passcode on both devices: This is pretty obvious. You don’t need to unlock your Mac if it doesn’t have a passcode anyway.

2. Restart Your Devices.

Rebooting is a go-to fix whenever users encounter issues on their Apple devices. It makes sense in your case, too. Restarting both your Apple Watch and Mac can remove any garbage memory or random bugs that might have caused the Auto Unlock issue.


Here’s how to restart your Mac: 

  1. First, click the Apple menu.
  2. Then, select Restart.
Apple menu

Here’s how to reboot your Apple Watch:

  1. Begin by holding down the Side button.
restart Apple Watch

After restarting your devices, the auto-unlock feature will be temporarily disabled. You have to type your password for Mac to log in and re-enable the feature. Then, let your Mac sleep. This time, see if you can unlock your Mac with Apple Watch automatically.

  1. Wait for the Power Down menu to show up on the screen before releasing the Side button.
  2. Lastly, tap the Power Off slider and drag it to the right.

3. Re-Enable Auto Unlock Mac with Apple Watch.

Unlocking your Mac with your Apple Watch requires you to enable the feature on your Mac. So if it suddenly stops working, one thing you should do is re-enable it.

Here’s how to re-enable the auto-unlock feature on your Mac:

  1. First, click the Apple menu.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Next, choose Security & Privacy
  4. By default, you’ll land on the General tab. If you’re not, click General.
  5. Now, uncheck the box next to Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac
  1. Restart both your Mac and Apple Watch.
  2. Finally, repeat Steps 1 to 5 once your devices are back up and running. But this time, tick the box next to Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.

Test if you can unlock your Mac by doing it through your watch again. Unsuccessful? Keep reading for more potential solutions below. 

4. Turn Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Off and On.

Auto Unlock requires Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to be running on both your Mac and Apple Watch. If one of these connections is off or poor, Auto Unlock will stop working, too.

The solution is to turn these connections off and on. That’s even if you’re sure you have a good Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. Re-enabling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can help you establish a much stronger signal to a Wi-Fi hotspot or device like Apple Watch.

It’s best to toggle Airplane Mode off and on to reset Apple Watch connections. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Swipe up on the screen to launch the Control Center.
  2. Tap the Airplane button to switch off all connections.
Apple Watch control center
  1. Finally, after a few seconds, hit the Airplane button again to reconnect. 

Here’s how to re-enable network connections on your Mac:

  1. First, click the Wi-Fi icon on the top menu. 
  2. Then, select Turn Wi-Fi Off.
turn Wi-Fi off on Mac
  1. Next, click the Bluetooth icon. Note: If Bluetooth isn’t on the top menu, click the Apple icon. Then, select System Preferences. Next, choose Bluetooth.
  2. Now, click Turn Bluetooth Off.
  3. Finally, after a few seconds, turn your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections back on. 

Now, check if you can unlock your Mac through Apple Watch with ease. If not, don’t worry. We still have a few more potential solutions for you.

5. Deactivate Automatic Login on Mac.

Is Automatic Login enabled on your Mac? If so, deactivate it. It can interfere with your watch’s ability to unlock your Mac. That could explain why Auto Unlock isn’t working.

Here’s how to deactivate Automatic Login on your Mac:

  1. Begin by clicking the Apple menu.
  2. On the drop-down menu, select System Preferences.
  3. Next, click Users & Groups.
  4. Then, select the Lock icon at the bottom-left corner of the screen.
  5. Type in your system administrator password.
  6. Now, click Login Options at the sidebar menu and select Automatic login.
  7. Lastly, choose Off on the drop-down menu.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac

This fix worked for some users. But if that isn’t the case with you, keep reading below.

6. Disable Internet Sharing on Mac. 

Internet sharing is another function on Mac that can interfere with Auto Unlock. Ensure it’s disabled before trying to unlock your Mac with Apple Watch again. 

Here’s how to disable internet sharing on Mac:

  1. First, navigate your way to the Apple menu. Then, click System Preferences.
  2. Next, select Sharing.
Internet sharing on Mac
  1. Finally, uncheck the box for Internet Sharing on the sidebar menu.

After that, try to unlock your Mac using your Apple Watch. See if the problem is fixed.

7. Re-Pair Your Apple Watch.

You cannot directly sync Apple Watch with a Mac. It needs to be paired with your iPhone. Somehow, your iPhone acts as the link between your Mac and Apple Watch. So if you can’t seem to make Auto Unlock work, re-pairing could be the solution.

Once you’ve unpaired your watch, the Auto Unlock feature will be disabled. You have to re-enable it (see Method 3) after re-pairing your watch with your phone. This process gives all your Apple devices a fresh opportunity to interact again. 

Here’s how to unpair your Apple Watch with iPhone:

  1. First, open the Watch app on your phone.
  2. Hit the My Watch tab at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Then, tap All Watches
  4. Next, tap the Info button beside the Apple Watch you want to unpair.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac
  1. Lastly, choose Unpair Apple Watch on the next screen.

After that, pair your watch with your phone again—like how you did it before. Don’t forget to re-enable the Auto Unlock feature on Mac. Then, see if you can unlock your Mac using your Apple Watch with ease this time. 

8. Reach Out to Apple Support.

If nothing worked at this point, the next solution is to contact Apple Support. There could be software or hardware issues that only they can resolve. You can reach out to them via live chat, phone, or email. If they need you to bring your devices to the Apple Repair Center, set an appointment online to ensure your visit is safe and efficient.

contact Apple


This wraps up the article. We hope we’ve helped you in some way. Got more Apple Watch or Mac-related issues? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Our team is ready to write another how-to guide to help make your user experience great again.

If this guide helped you, please share it. 🙂

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