How to Fix Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac?

When you hold or bring your Apple watch near your Mac, it automatically detects it and unlocks the Mac. However, in recent times, users are reporting for Apple watch Not Unlocking Mac problem. The issue won’t let the Apple watch detect the Mac thereby failing to unlock it.

Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac

Well, the problem is a bit annoying. Therefore, we have written this article that will give you complete information about the problem including the causes and their specific solutions. So, keep reading the article to understand the problem source and to know the potential solutions to deal with the respective scenario.

But before going directly for the solutions, you need to know the causes first. Knowing causes will help you to know the source of the issue thereby solving it with the most effective solutions.

What Causes the “Apple Watch Not Unlocking Mac” Problem?

  • Compatibility issue- Firstly, if both your Mac and Apple watch is not compatible with each other then you will encounter this issue. Therefore, you need to check for compatibility and make sure to have both your devices compatible with each other. Also, if both your devices don’t meet all the requirements of the auto-unlock feature then this can also trouble you with such a problem. So, check for the requirements once.
  • Connection problem- Another problem occurring reason is connection issues. For Auto-unlocking, both your Apple Watch and Mac must have enabled Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. So, if Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is not turned on in any of the devices, then you can face trouble unlocking your Mac with an Apple watch. Therefore, when such a problem occurs try checking for both connections if enabled or not.
  • Both Mac & Apple Watch not signed in to Cloud- If both your Mac and Apple device are not signed-in on Cloud then you may find difficulty unlocking your Mac with your Apple watch. So, make sure to have both your devices must have logged on to clouds to get rid of this problem.
  • Enabled Auto-login feature- Enabled auto-login feature restricts the auto-unlock from working thereby occurring this problem. So when found auto-login feature is enabled, it is recommended to disable it to solve the problem with the Apple watch.
  • Outdated OS on both Apple watch & Mac- If both devices in operating on an outdated OS version, then you may face problems unlocking your Mac with an Apple watch. So, when found the old or outdated OS to be the culprit behind the problem, try fixing the issue by installing the latest version on both devices to fix the problem.
  • The issue with the device- At most times, internal issues on your devices may lead you to this problem. So, if you find difficulty unlocking your Mac with Apple watch then try resolving the problem by rebooting both your devices. Reboot will give both your devices a fresh start thereby solving any temporary issue that is currently causing the unlocking problems.
  • Enable internet sharing option on Mac- If the internet sharing or screen sharing options are enabled on your Mac then it won’t let the Apple watch detect the Mac device thereby failing to unlock it. Hereby, make sure to disable both the options on Mac to deal with the problem.
  • Disabled passcode on both Apple Watch and Mac- If both your devices have disabled passcode then there exists a high chance of facing difficulty unlocking your Mac with an Apple watch. So, to use the auto-unlock feature, you must have a default passcode enabled on both your devices.

So, these are some of the common culprits causing the problem, now follow the potential fixes given to solve the problem in no time.

1. Check for Your Mac & Software Compatibility

It has been already highlighted above that incompatibility can be the main reason causing this problem to appear. Hereby, when such a problem occurs try checking for your Mac and Apple Watch compatibility. Also, for using the auto-unlock feature, both your Apple Watch and Mac devices must meet all the requirements for auto-unlock. Below are the specs required for Auto-unlock:

  1. Mac must be a mid-2013 or later having OS Sierra or later.
  2. Apple Watch must operate on WatchOS 3 or later.
  3. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be enabled on both your Apple Watch and Mac.
  4. You must have signed in on iCloud with the same Apple ID on both your Mac and Apple Watch.
  5. And your Apple ID must have enabled two-factor authentication.
  6. You must have a default passcode set on both your Mac and Apple watch.

Also, make sure that you have your Apple watch nearby to the mac to attempt the auto-unlock feature.  And here is how you can check your Mac version:

  1. Firstly, click on the Apple logo in the upper right corner.
  2. Next, go for the About this Mac option from the Apple Menu.
  3. Now, on the Overview tab, you’ll find your macOS version.

2. Check Your Connections

Another problem occurring reason is a disabled Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. As to use the auto-unlock feature you must have enabled Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections on both your Mac and Apple watch. Hereby, when your Apple watch found difficulty unlocking your Mac, try checking for both connections on the Apple Watch and Mac. If found disabled on any of the devices, turn it on and then try using the auto-unlock option.

3. Both Your Mac & Apple Watch Must Be Password-Protected

Another problem-fixing solution is to set the passcode for both your Mac and Apple watch. To, use the auto-unlock feature, you must have a passcode set for both devices. So, when faced with an unlocking issue, try fixing the problem by setting the passcode for both devices. To set the passcode you need to follow the below steps:

  • Open the watch app on your iPhone.
  • Next, visit the Password section and turn it on.
  • Then set the preferred passcode for both your Apple Watch and Mac.

Now check if you are able to unlock an Apple watch on Mac or not.

4. Reboot Your Devices

At most times, temporary issues on your Mac and Apple Watch may restrict the auto-unlock feature from working. So, in this case, rebooting both devices will most probably solve the issue. Therefore Force Quit your Mac device and Apple watch. Reboot will start your both devices freshly thereby fixing the temporary issues that are currently prevailing on the devices. To reboot, follow the guided instructions below for both devices:

4.1 To Reboot Mac:

  1. Tap the Apple icon on the upper left corner.
  2. Next, click on Restart.
    Restarting the macOS computer
  3. Now, wait for your Mac to reboot.

4.2 To Reboot Apple watch:

  1. Long hold the side button on the Apple Watch until the menu appears.
  2. Next, swipe the toggle to POWER OFF.
    Power Off Apple Watch
  3. Once turned off, long hold the side button again and release once the Apple logo appears.
  4. Lastly, unlock the watch by entering your passcode.

5. Make Sure Both Your Mac & Apple Watch Signed in to Cloud

If you have not signed in to iCloud using the same Apple id on both devices then you may come across this unlocking problem. As for auto-unlocking both your Mac and Apple Watch have signed in on Cloud using the same id. So, if you haven’t signed in yet, you may not be able to unlock your Mac with an Apple watch. So, in order to fix the problem, make sure to get yourself signed in to iCloud with the same id on both devices.

To check the Apple ID on Mac, follow the steps below:

  1. On your Mac, go to System Preferences.
    Accessing the System Preferences tab
  2. Then, visit Apple ID and check if signed in or not. And if signed in, then check from which ID.

To check your Apple ID on your Apple Watch, follow the guide below:

  1. Go to Settings on your Apple watch.
  2. Then, visit Profile.
  3. Here, check for the Apple ID if simple to the Mac or not.

6. Unpair & Pair the Apple Watch & Mac Again

If you are facing a problem unlocking your Mac with Apple watch then it might be because of the pairing issue. If both devices are not properly paired then you may run into this unlocking issue. So, when such a problem occurs, unpairing and then re-pairing Apple Watch and Mac is worth applying the solution.

Repair your Apple Watch and Mac with the below instructions:

  1. Firstly, open the Watch app on your Apple Phone.
  2. Next, on the “My Watch” tab, select the option “All Watches” on the upper left side.
  3. Now, click the “i” icon beside the Apple Watch.
  4. On the appeared next screen, click on the option “Unpair Apple Watch”.
    Unpair Apple Watch
  5. Then, you will receive a prompt message on the screen. Click the “Unpair Apple Watch” to confirm.
  6. Or, if you are having a cellular Apple watch, you’ll be getting the option “Keep Data Plan” or “Remove Data Plan”. As you have to pair your Apple Watch again, you need to choose the “Keep Data Plan” option.
  7. After that, type your Apple ID password and tap on “Unpair” at the top right corner.
  8. Next, the message for “Unpairing Apple Watch.” Will appear on the next screen. So, wait for the process to get completed.
    Select unpairing Apple Watch
  9. Once done, bring your Apple Watch close to the iPhone. And when the setup animation appears, click the Continue button to initialise the pairing process.

Once paired, enable Auto-Unlock and check whether or not it is working.

7. Turn Off & On Auto-Unlock

Disabling and enabling Auto-unlock is another proven solution applied by the majority of users to fix the Apple watch not unlocking Mac issue. Therefore, we suggest you give this solution a try to get rid of this problem. As the solution is worth giving a chance.

  1. On your Mac, tap the Apple logo appearing at the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Now, select System Preferences from the appeared Apple menu.
    Open System Preferences on Your Mac
  3. Then, go for the Security & Privacy section
  4. Next, under the Security & Privacy, go to the General tab.
    Security & Privacy – System Preferences in macOS
  5. On the next appeared screen, unmark the box beside “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” to turn off auto-unlock.

Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac

Lastly, reboot both your Mac and Apple Watch.

Once restarted, follow the below instructions to enable the auto-unlock:

  1. On your Mac, tap the Apple logo appearing at the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Now, select System Preferences from the appeared Apple menu.
  3. Then, go for the Security & Privacy section
  4. Next, under the Security & Privacy, go to the General tab.
  5. Then, on the General tab, mark the box for “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” to enable auto-unlock.

Once done with the above steps, try unlocking your Mac using an Apple watch and check if working or not.

8. Reset Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Connection

As you know already that Auto-Unlock feature on Mac uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to verify the signals. So, when the auto-unlock feature fails to work, the interrupted Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection is found to be the culprit. Hereby, when such is the case found, try fixing the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi interrupted issues by resetting them.

8.1 Reset the connections on Mac:

  1. Click on the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icon in the Control Center or menu bar.
  2. Next, tap the switch for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to turn them off.
  3. Now, revisit the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icon and turn the switch for both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
    Turn the switch for both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

8.2 On Apple Watch:

  1. At first, click the Digital Crown on the watch to launch the App View.
  2. Next, navigate to the Settings app from the List view or Grid view and open it.
  3. On the Settings menu, scroll down to the Wi-Fi and click it.
  4. Now, toggle off the switch for Wi-Fi on the appeared next screen.
    Turn Wi-Fi on again
  5. Lastly, wait for 3-4 seconds and turn on the Wi-Fi again.
  6. Next, click the back arrow icon at the top left side to go back to the
  7. Now, select Bluetooth this time on the Settings menu.
  8. Then, on the appeared Bluetooth page, turn the switch off for Bluetooth. Again, wait for 3-4 seconds and turn the switch on.
    Turn off and on Bluetooth

9. Disable Auto-Login

With the enabled Auto-Login feature on your Mac, the user can automatically sign in to the user account while startup. But with enabled auto-login, you won’t be able to use Auto-Unlock. So, if you want to use auto-unlock, you must have an auto-login feature on Mac disabled. To disable it, follow the guidelines below:

  1. On your Mac, tap the Apple logo appearing at the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Now, select System Preferences from the appeared Apple menu.
    Open System Preferences on Your Mac
  3. Next, select the category for Users & Groups.
  4. Then, click the lock icon in the down left corner.
  5. On the next screen, type your Mac password to allow making changes.
    Type your Mac password
  1. After that, select Login Options.
  2. Here, ensure the Automatic login is disabled on the Mac. If not, tap the dropdown icon and choose Off from the appeared options.

10. Disable Internet Sharing on Your Mac

Another cause that restricts your Apple watch from unlocking your Mac is enabled Screen sharing or Internet sharing options. As to using the Auto-Unlock feature, you must have both options disabled on your Mac. So, in case you are sharing the Mac internet or screen, you’ll have to turn off them.

Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Tap the Apple logo and select System Preferences from the appeared options.
  2. Here, on the System Preferences tab, select the option Sharing.
    Open Sharing in the System Preferences of Mac
  3. Now, on the Sharing page, ensure both the Screen sharing and Internet Sharing options are disabled. If found any of these or both are enabled, unmark the box for both of them to disable.

11. Update the OS on Both Apple Watch & Mac

Lastly, if none of the above fixes works to get you out of this situation, then try updating the OS on both devices. As using an outdated or old OS version may create such problems. However, to fix the bugs or glitches on the old version, you must update your Mac as well as Apple Watch to the latest available version. Follow the below update instructions for both devices:

11.1 To update the Apple watch:

  1. Launch the Watch app on the iPhone.
  2. Next, visit the My Watch tab and select General.
  3. Here, click on the Software Update option.
    Click on the Software Update option
  4. Now, the Checking for Update message will appear on your screen. Wait for the checking process to complete
    Now, the Checking for Update message appears
  5. Once done with checking, it will show you the available update on the screen.
  6. If any update showed, download and install it.

11.2 To update the Mac

  1. Tap the Apple logo and select System Preferences from the appeared options.
  2. Next, click on the System Update option.
    Opening System Update option for macOS
  3. Now, Mac will initialise checking for updates.
  4. If any found, Mac will notify you with An update is available for your Mac message. Click the Update Now button to download and install the latest version.
Updating MacOS

Well, the Auto-Unlock feature is very interesting and fun at the same time. But when it’s not working then it can be the most annoying. Therefore, the problem requires instant troubleshooting.

Hereby, we have this article covered all the possible and workable solutions that will get you out of the Apple watch not unlocking the Mac problem in no time with the least effort. I hope, you found the article useful thereby letting you unlock your Mac with Apple watches once again without any difficulty or problem.

Hardeep Kaur
Hardeep is a passionate technical writer with more than 7 years of experience. She has a keen interest in PC games, Windows OS and everything surrounding it. She is a technology enthusiast and fascinated with technology since her childhood days.

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