How to Improve the Privacy of Your Mac

While Macs are definitely known for their endless security features and durability against malware, they still require a few tweaks to stay as private as possible. When it comes to privacy, it takes a regular effort to make sure that you’re not unnecessarily exposing yourself and your data, even with a Mac.

Thankfully, Macs come with many free features to protect you already. So, if you’re wondering how you can better improve your privacy on your Mac, here are some tips to follow.


Add a Password

One of the most straightforward ways to make your Mac more secure is to add a password. When adding a password, it’s important to not use any old password, but a strong password that isn’t easy to guess. To set up or change the password on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen
  2. Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy.
  3. Click General.
  4. In the lower-left corner, click the padlock to make changes and click Change Password.
  5. Type in your old password, new password, and password hint.
  6. In the popup, select Change Password.
  7. After setting your password, click the padlock again to confirm the changes.

For some people, it can be easy to forget a secure password. To help you manage your login details, you can set up Touch ID for some Mac models. Alternatively, you can also invest in a password manager, which can help you manage passwords across all your devices, including your Mac.

Enable Disk Encryption

While it’s also possible to do file-level encryption, there are plenty of reasons why you should also set up your Mac’s full-disk encryption (FDE). With full-disk encryption, you can prevent bad actors from accessing your entire hard drive without your consent. Thankfully, macOS has a built-in encryption feature called FileVault.

To check if FileVault is enabled on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy.
  3. Click FileVault.
  4. Unlock the padlock to turn on FileVault .

When enabling FileVault, make sure that you take note of your recovery key and store it in a safe place. In the event that you lose your password, the recovery key will be your only way to access your files. If you lose both your recovery key and password, there will be no other way to access your files.

Check App Permissions

After years of use, we can get a little lax with how much information we give apps access to on our Macs. For this reason, it makes sense to go through your app permissions occasionally to make sure apps don’t have privileges they don’t need, such as accessing your location, camera, or microphone.

To check which apps have access to which features on your Mac, here’s what you have to do:

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy.
  3. Click Privacy.
  4. Unlock the padlock to make changes.
  5. Scan each category on the left menu bar. Check each app’s permission and adjust them accordingly.
  6. In the lower-left corner of the screen, click the padlock icon to save your changes.

Regarding app permissions, there’s not one perfect way to set them up. After all, each person’s Mac usage is different, and you may want to allow apps to access certain permissions based on your actual use.

Change the Name of Your Mac

Unsurprisingly, many people set up their Mac for the first time when they receive it and never bother to change its name. For example, most people leave it as [Your Name]’s MacBook. While it’s not inherently bad to have your real name linked to your device, it can pose a massive privacy risk for a variety of reasons.

Nearby Apple users can use this information to stalk you through other means, such as social media. While first names are usually not a problem, having your first and last name makes the search all the less difficult. Thankfully, it’s easy to change the name of your Mac to something more generic.

Make Sure All Your Devices Are Linked Via Airdrop

For those who are knee-deep into the Apple ecosystem, you can easily send files from one device to another seamlessly with Airdrop. However, it’s not uncommon to see someone else’s Mac with a similar name to yours. So, if you haven’t already, you may want to change the Airdrop name of your Mac to avoid sending files to the wrong place.

Thankfully, Apple also lets you quickly identify which devices are linked to your Apple account. You can avoid accidentally sending photos or documents to an impersonator via Airdrop by checking if your Mac falls under Devices, not just Other People.

To do this, all you need to do is sign into the same Apple ID account on each device.

Install a Privacy Filter

These days, many people tend to work remotely in places like coffee shops or co-working offices. However, there are plenty of risks to using your Mac outside, such as connecting to an unsafe Wi-Fi network or even someone reading your screen when they’re next to you.

For people who deal with a lot of sensitive or confidential information, installing a physical privacy filter may help manage your risks. A physical privacy filter can be installed on your Mac screen, so someone who isn’t facing directly at your screen cannot read it. It’s like a screen protector that you can only see through from certain angles.

Set a Screen Saver

Although it’s not recommended to leave your Mac alone with people you don’t trust, there are times you might have to risk it. Whether you’re desperate to use the restroom in a café or need to leave your desk for a quick meeting, setting an automatic screen saver can help with your privacy.

You should also ensure your Mac requests a password to exit the screen saver.

To adjust your screen saver time, follow these steps:

  1. On your Mac device, click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver.
  3. Click Screen Saver, then check the box to enable it.
  4. Now go back and click Security & Privacy.
  5. Click General.
  6. In the lower-left corner, click the lock to make changes.
  7. Check the box next to Require password [X] minutes after sleep or screen saver begins.
  8. Adjust the period of time before your Mac will require a password.
  9. Click the lock icon to confirm your choice.

With a screen saver, you can be sure that your screen will automatically lock after a certain time. With this, you don’t have to worry about if you’ve left your Mac open for everyone to see.

Keep Your Mac Private

By following the tips above, you can make sure that your Mac isn’t just secure, but private. By taking the time to adjust your settings and routinely removing access to apps you no longer use, you can protect yourself from people looking to steal personal information through your Mac.

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