Lock Screen - Slide to Unlock Your Screen

very good
key review info
application features
  • Instant Lock
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There are several ways to lock your Mac’s screen and then easily unlock it using your system account’s password. Lock Screen is a simple application that allows you to activate your screen using an action specific to the iPhone or iPad: slide.

When it comes to securing your Mac’s screen in a matter of seconds, you have at least two possibilities to do it using tools that come integrated with the system.

One of them is the Keychain Access app (included in your Utilities folder): launch the app, go to the Preferences panel and check the “Show Status in Menu Bar” box. You will immediately see a new menu bar item that allows you to lock your screen: to unlock simply input your system account's password (make sure you have one set).

Another way is to set a screensaver and an active screen corner to enable it instantly. The next step is to go to the Security area and check the “Require password after sleep or screensaver begins” box. You can choose a time interval before this rule becomes active, although I prefer the “immediately” option.

Long story short, this method will allow you to secure your screen through a simple mouse movement. Obviously, you can also put your computer to sleep (using hotkey combinations: Option+Command+Eject or CTRL+Shift+ Eject) and have the same effect security wise.

Any of these solutions work fine, but if you want more, Lock Screen offers some very interesting features: a user defined keyboard shortcut for locking the screen, slide to unlock (using your keyboard or the trackpad), a passpattern for extra security and many more customization options.

The Looks

Lock Screen has everything that it needs to be running on a Mac without taking up space or distracting the user in any way. By default, when you launch the application it will add a status bar menu item that allows you to easily lock the screen and access the Preferences or the FAQ webpage.

The default icon comes in a bright orange, but, via the Preferences you can switch to the black one or remove the menu altogether. If you go for the second opinion, you will be able to easily lock the screen through the hotkey combination (the default keyboard shortcut is Command + L), but, to access the Preferences you will have to run Lock Screen from the Applications folder all over again.

On the other hand, in lock mode the application will take up the entire screen and, over a wallpaper of your choice, you will be able to see the date and time on top and a slide bar at the bottom (featuring your custom text), both panels having rounded edges and the same iPhone or iPad look and feel.

Lock Screen comes with a default wallpaper, but you can choose to use your current desktop or simply set one manually: basic image formats are supported although, it cannot deal with animated GIF files. Note that it you press the “Get More Image” button you are simply redirected to a website specialized in wallpapers.

Furthermore, you have the possibility to use a 24-hour clock or set sound notification for locking or unlocking the screen. This time around, if you press the “Get More Sound” link, you will be directed to a sound collection hosted on the developer’s website.

The Works

Like many other applications out there, Lock Screen can be set to start at login. This would be irrelevant if you couldn’t have the possibility to automatically lock the screen at app launch. Since you can have both, Lock Screen allows you to immediately secure your Mac even if you schedule it to open before you get to work.

Note that if you have the “Require password after sleep or screensaver begins” option enabled, the screen will be unlocked by the system account password. In this case, from Lock Screen’s point of view, each time the screensaver or the sleep mode are activated, the application is automatically unlocked, making room for the system settings.

If you disable the “Require password after sleep or screensaver begins” option, Lock Screen is taking a different approach for each case. The screensaver will not be enabled at all but you will be able to put your Mac to Sleep using the default keyboard shortcut even if the screen is locked, while the app remains active.

The “Lock Before Sleep” feature is self explanatory (you can see indications under each feature if you have questions)  and I believe it’s quite useful if you need to conserve energy.

Lock Screen can also schedule when to auto lock the screen taking into account the last user action, or when to put the system to sleep after lock: both functions use customizable timers that can be easily disabled or can go up to 2 hours.

When it comes to unlocking, Lock Screen brings two innovative notions: the keyboard passpattern and the Unlock by Trackpad feature.

The two features coexist and exclude each other at the same time: you can have both enabled, but if you use the Unlock by Trackpad function, the keyboard passpattern is not required and vice versa.

Of course, if you use the Unlock by Trackpad mode, you can set a pattern by specifying which modifier keys should be pressed and how many fingers should be dragged from left to right, but I believe a keyboard passpattern is more secure and harder to guess, if not impossible.

Basically, each time you set a passpattern, Lock Screen does not only take into account the keys that are pressed but also the typing speed. This makes the unlocking process a bit harder even if you do know the passpattern.

The bad news is that, if you have a passpattern setup and you want to change it, the replacement is made without asking for the initial pattern. I believe this is a major oversight, since you might end up locked out from your own computer.

You can choose to be asked for the passpattern each time you open the Preferences window but you must also make sure you never leave that window open.

Still, if the harm has been done or if you forgot the passpattern do not despair: simply delete the “th.co.idevelop.lockscreenapp2.plist” file from the Preferences folder in the Library and relaunch the application, but notice that all the other settings will also be deleted. Of course, if you are using Mac OS X Lion you must unhide the Library folder first.

Moreover, if you have set the application to open at login and lock at launch you must reboot your Mac in safe mode (you can find out how HERE) in order to delete that particular file and get things back to normal (visit the Lock Screen FAQ section to find out more).

Although the resources offered by the developers are quite limited, when it comes to documentation, the indications displayed in the Preferences window under each function usually contain all the insight needed for an optimal use.

The Good

Lock Screen is a good looking application that will bring to your Mac the same style, look and feel that made the iPhone so popular. Using Lock Screen you will be able to secure your screen with a simple hotkey while keeping a beautiful wallpaper on top, avoiding the blackness of a desktop that entered the sleep mode.

The fact that you can slide to bring your screen to life is quite delightful and I must admit that using a passpattern could be a bit safer than the classical account password, since typing speed is also considered.

The Bad

Unfortunately, you cannot use Lock Screen and a screensaver at the same time: this might not seem important since you can have the time and a nice wallpaper on you desktop via the application, but I would like to have this option.

On the other hand, a passpattern can be easily replaced if you don't set the app to ask for the passpattern each time you open its Preferences window, a fact that pretty much renders it useless.

Last but not least, the fact that you can remove the passpattern by deleting a preferences file could be a blessing and a curse at the same time, depending on who is using this information.

The Truth

Lock Screen is a quite simple application that does not raise too many problems, while offering innovative features: the possibility to lock/unlock your screen using a hotkey and a passpattern.

Probably most important, Lock Screen provides the iPhone look and the 'slide to unlock' feature that will raise the interest of many Apple and iPhone enthusiasts out there.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 4
pricing / value 3


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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