6 Ways to Fix Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Problem

6 Ways to Fix Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac Problem

Auto Unlock is one of the many “Apple Continuity” features. It automatically unlocks a Mac when you’re wearing an Apple Watch without having to enter your passcode. When it works properly, the function is magical.

Apple has a complex system in place to make Auto Unlock possible, but unfortunately it can sometimes malfunction. If you’ve experienced issues yourself, here’s what to do if your Apple Watch won’t unlock your Mac.

Requirements for automatic unlocking of the Apple Watch

Before attempting any repairs, first make sure you meet this list of requirements.

  • Your Mac must be a mid-2013 or later model running macOS Sierra or later.
  • Apple Watch must run WatchOS 3 or later.
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on both Mac and Apple Watch.
  • You should be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on both your Mac and Apple Watch.
  • Your Apple ID should have two-factor authentication enabled.
  • You’ve set a sign-in password on your Mac and the password on your Apple Watch.

On top of all that, make sure you’re close to your Mac when you try to use Auto Unlock. Also note that if you restart your Mac, you will still need to enter your password.

Anyway, as long as you meet the requirements above, Auto Unlock should work just fine. If it still doesn’t work, try the fixes below.

1. Disable auto unlock and enable it again

The first solution you should try is to disable Auto Unlock and enable it again.

  1. Click the Apple logo in the upper right corner of your Mac.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac Apple logo
  1. Select “System Preferences” from the Apple menu options. You can also open it from the Start bar, or by doing a Spotlight search.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac system preferences
  1. Then select “Security and privacy”.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac system preferences
  1. Under “Security & Privacy” preferences, you should be in the “General” tab. If not, tap the “General” tab at the top to get there.
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Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Disable automatic unlocking
  1. Uncheck the box next to “Use Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” to disable automatic unlocking on your Mac.
  2. Now restart your Mac and Apple Watch.
  3. Follow the same steps outlined above to go to the “General” tab and check the box next to “Use Apple Watch to unlock apps and Mac” to enable automatic unlocking on your Mac.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Enable automatic unlocking

2. Reset Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection

Auto Unlock on Mac uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to verify the signals. Most of the time, when the Auto Unlock feature does not work, it is mainly due to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection interruption. The easiest way to fix Bluetooth or Wi-Fi related problems is to turn them off and then on again.

On Mac

  1. Tap the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar or “Control Center”.
  2. Click the switch next to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to turn them off.
  1. Go back to the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar or “Control Center” and turn on the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi switch.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Turn on Bluetooth Wi Fi

On Apple Watch

  1. Press the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch to open “App View”.
  2. Find the “Settings” app from “Grid View” or “List View” and open it.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac settings Apple Watch
  1. Under Settings, scroll down to Wi-Fi and tap on it.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Wi-Fi settings page
  1. On the next screen, turn off the switch next to Wi-Fi. Wait a few seconds and turn Wi-Fi back on.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Wifi Turn on
  1. Tap the back arrow icon at the top left to return to “Settings” and tap Bluetooth.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Bluetooth settings page
  1. On the Bluetooth settings page, scroll down and turn off the switch next to Bluetooth. Wait a few more seconds and turn on the Bluetooth switch again.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Bluetooth Turn on

3. Turn off automatic login

The automatic login feature on Mac allows you to log in to a user account automatically during startup. When auto-login is enabled on your Mac, you can’t use auto-unlock. So if you want to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch, you must first turn off automatic sign-in.

  1. Open “System Preferences” on your Mac.
  2. From there, go to “Users and groups”.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac user groups
  1. Now tap on the lock icon in the bottom left corner.
Apple Watch doesn't unlock Mac padlocks
  1. Enter your Mac password to allow changes.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac settings page Enter passcode
  1. Click on “login options” in the bottom left corner.
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Apple Watch doesn't unlock Mac sign-in options
  1. From here, you can ensure that “Automatic login” is turned off on your Mac. If enabled, click the drop-down menu and select “Off” from the options.

4. Turn off Internet Sharing and Screen Sharing

Auto Unlock does not work when “Internet Sharing” or “Screen Sharing” is turned on. So if you’re sharing your Mac screen or the Internet, you’ll need to turn them off.

  1. Go to “System Preferences” on your Mac.
  2. From System Preferences, go to “Sharing”.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac sharing
  1. Under “Sharing”, make sure “Internet Sharing” and “Screen Sharing” are turned off. If one or both are enabled, uncheck the box next to them to turn them off.
Apple Watch doesn't unlock Mac sharing

5. Update your Mac and Apple Watch

Apple regularly updates its devices, including the Mac and Apple Watch to fix bugs and issues. If you’re running an outdated version of macOS or WatchOS and are having trouble with automatic unlocking, you should update your Mac and Apple Watch.

Note: Apple recommends backing up your Mac before attempting to update.

Update your Mac

  1. Launch “System Preferences” on your Mac.
  2. Then select “System Update”.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac software update
  1. Your Mac will start checking for updates.
  2. If it says “An update is available for your Mac,” tap the “Update Now” button to download and install the update on your Mac.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Check system update on Mac

Update your Apple Watch

  1. Open the “Watch” app on your iPhone.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Open the Watch app
  1. In the “My Clock” tab, click “General”.
Apple Watch does not unlock the Mac General Watch app
  1. Under “General” settings, tap “Software Update”.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Software Update Watch app
  1. You will see a “Checking for Update” message on the screen. If an update is available for Apple Watch, you can download and install it from here.
Apple Watch does not unlock the Mac Update Watch app

6. Disconnect and reconnect Apple Watch

If you tried all of the above fixes and none of them worked for you, the last solution you might want to try is to disconnect and re-pair your Apple Watch.

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Open the Watch app
  1. In the “My Clock” tab, tap “All Clocks” at the top left.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac All watches
  1. Tap the “i” icon next to your Apple Watch.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac I icon
  1. On the next screen, tap “Disconnect Apple Watch”.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Disconnect from Apple Watch
  1. A message appears on the screen. Tap “Disconnect Apple Watch” to give the final confirmation.
Apple Watch not unlocking Mac Disconnect from Apple Watch verification
  1. If you have a mobile Apple Watch, you will be given the option to “Keep data plan” or “Remove data plan”. When you want to pair your Apple Watch again, select the “Keep data plan” option.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac Keep Data Plan
  1. Finally, to disconnect your Apple Watch, enter your Apple ID password and tap “Disconnect” at the top right of the screen.
Apple Watch does not unlock Mac Apple ID password
  1. You will see a message “Unpairing Apple Watch.” It will take a few seconds to disconnect your Apple Watch.
  2. To pair your Apple Watch again, bring it closer to your iPhone. When the setup animation appears on the screen, press the “Continue” button to start the pairing process.
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After pairing your Apple Watch, enable Auto Unlock and hopefully it should work now.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which version of Mac I have?

To check the Mac version, tap the Apple logo at the top right. From the “Apple Menu Options,” select “About This Mac.” In the “Overview” tab, you should see the macOS version your computer is running. The year it was released is listed below.

How can I fix the “Wireless connection is too weak for Apple Watch to unlock this Mac” error?

Apple Watch can unlock your Mac from a maximum distance of 48 inches. If you are outside this distance, it will give you the error message “Wireless connection is too weak for Apple Watch to unlock this Mac.” To fix this error, get closer to the Mac, preferably within the specified area, and then try to unlock it automatically.

Can I also unlock my Mac with my iPhone?

Yes, you can unlock your Mac with your iPhone, not officially, but using third-party apps. There are apps like Near Lock, MacID and Unlox in the App Store. These apps use your iPhone’s Face ID and Touch ID to unlock your Mac.

All screenshots taken by Ratnesh Kumar

Image credit: Unsplash

Ratnesh Kumar
Ratnesh Kumar

Ratnesh is keen on writing guides and explanations. He spends most of his time reading, writing and looking at technology. In his spare time, he loves to play and watch cricket.

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