Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcut for locking the screen

For years I’ve been searching for a keyboard shortcut that would instantly lock my screen / desktop. I’ve seen this on Linux window managers and something like this probably exists on every major operating system.

My current workaround was to open, enable the menu bar icon in the preferences and click each time on the menu bar item -> lock screen.

I tried AppleScript, I tried Automator, I even convinced a friend that it would be necessary to write a small app for this. Recently however, somebody said that there is such a shortcut and that it exists since Mac OS 8.

This holy shortcut is:

⌃ + ⇧ + ⏏ (Control + Shift + Eject)

On Macs without an Eject key you can use the power button in the shortcut instead.

You have to enable »Require Password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins« in the System Preferences -> Security to make this truly lock your screen.

There are probably many other shortcuts in Mac OS I don’t know. If you have any hints where to get a complete list, please let me know!

High Sierra Update

With macOS 10.13 there is now a dedicated screen lock feature which can be invoked with this new shortcut:

⌃ + ⌘ + Q (Control + Command + Q)

Other Updates

  • In Mac OS X terminology this shortcut puts the display immediately to sleep.
  • A website listing this and other shortcuts can be found here

26 Responses to Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcut for locking the screen

  1. instead of launching the screensaver/display sleep you could also use launchbars “login window” action which sends you back to the login screen…

    there should be something similar for alfred as well

    the advantage here, this is the mac os x login screen… so, some other user could login and do some work without logging out the first user (often needed on my multiuser mac)

  2. even easier is to set an active corner. Go to System Preferences -> Exposé and choose a corner with the option “Put Display to sleep”. In addition you can select the drop down menu and hold down e.g. option key and then the corner’s option is activated when you point your mouse pointer to this corner and press the option key.
    In general, active corners are great 😉

  3. This also works just fine with OSX 10.6.8. I suspect it can even be ported to an easier key combination. I ported my screen shot combinations to the F14 and F15 keys using System Preferences/Keyboard/ShortcutKeys.

  4. Except since nobody actually wants to turn on “require password immediately”, this doesn’t work at all. Apple can’t even get the basics right.

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  7. You can use power button instead of eject.

    But I think this is still a poor solution. Better than nothing, yeah, but if I lock my computer I want to go to login and not bring up the screensaver. Sadly there seems to be no shortcut for going to the login screen.

    • I have the screen saver disabled so when I hit the shortcut the screen just goes black. I know – you want the login screen 🙂

  8. You can also use the ‘Show keychain status on menu bar’ option in Keychain Access.

    CMD/Space -> “Keychain Access” -> CMD , (for preferences) -> Tick “Show keychain status on menu bar”

    A small lock will appear in the menu bar, click it and select “Lock Screen”.

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