How to Disable Automatic Login in macOS

Posted on February 16, 2018 - by Darryl MacLeod - in Building Your InfoSec Program

Automatic login can be either a useful feature for devices in the workplace… or a vulnerability in your security program.

When you set up a new Mac, or do a clean installation of a new version of macOS, the first thing you do is create a user account. That account is set, by default, to log in automatically at startup.

Convenient, right? Only if you’re working from home 24/7. If you use a laptop and travel for work, this can leave you at a big risk. This automatic login means that anyone who finds your Mac just needs to start it up. They now have access to all your files, including personal and internal emails, or customer data.

You can change this, and tell macOS to display a login screen on boot instead. There are two ways to do this.

Instructions to Disable Automatic Login in macOS

  1. Go to the Users & Groups pane of System Preferences and click on Login Options.
  2. You’ll see a menu that lets you choose which user logs in automatically at startup. Choose Off from this menu to turn off automatic login.
  3. That’s it! Congrats! Your macOS is more secure now.

As an alternative, you can also change this setting from System Preferences, then clicking the Security & Privacy preferences. If you click on the General tab, you’ll see an option to Disable Automatic Login.

This simple step is one of the many easy things you can do to make yourself more secure at work.

Improving Security Awareness and Compliance in Your Company

If your company processes or stores customer data, you likely have policies about password-protecting your devices and systems. It’s critical that these information security policies get communicated to employees across the company. But they also need to sign off on their responsibilities and follow the security procedures, like turning off automatic login.

Does your company have a security policy for protecting computers and devices connected to sensitive data?

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About the author

Darryl MacLeod is an information security expert, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.