First World Problem: Unlock Mac with Apple Watch is broken, dammit! — updated

Nothing rips me up more than snags in the continuum of seamless connectivity.

It was a favorite part of my morning routine. Strap on Watch. Unlock iPhone. Open MacBook. One thumbprint, no passwords, set to go. Three apple devices—one on my lap, one in my pocket, one on my wrist—singing in harmony.

Then, last summer, Unlock Mac with Apple Watch stopped working, at least for me. Wrist would try to unlock laptop, try some more, and then give up, forcing me to key in a password after all.

I know. I know. I shouldn’t complain. Millions a starving, etc.

But here’s the thing: It was driving me crazy. Rather than starting my day with a burst of endorphins, I was starting with a jolt of frustration. I read and re-read the instructions. I checked the support pages. I wasted hours troubleshooting. I finally shut the feature off.

One of the first things I did with my new Apple Watch Series 3—after setting it up as a Dick Tracy phone—was turn on Unlock Mac with Apple Watch.

No go (see error message above).

More wasted hours troubleshooting. More frustration.

I could call Apple Support. And I probably will, eventually, when I have a couple hours to spare. But having just read about the friction-free week on the wrist of Ben Clymer—a bonafide luxury watch expert—I had to get this off my chest.

I don’t mean to make the issue bigger than it is: A pro feature that’s not as easy as it looks and may still be a little wonky.

But this is Apple, which charges a premium for devices and services that just work, seamlessly, right out of the box.

When they don’t, it drives me crazy.

UPDATE: Friend of the blog Marvin Skorman provided what Apple support did not: A workaround.

Bought an Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular and it did not unlock my MacBook Pro until I upgraded to High Sierra. Then it unlocked the Mac for a short period and stopped. I powered the watch down and booted back up. That fixed the problem for me. Working well for several days.

6 Comments

  1. Marvin Skorman said:

    Bought an Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular and it did not unlock my MacBook Pro until I upgraded to High Sierra. Then it unlocked the Mac for a short period and stopped. I powered the watch down and booted back up. That fixed the problem for me. Working well for several days.

    2
    October 5, 2017
  2. David Emery said:

    I’ve been saying for several years Apple needs to ramp up its Quality Assurance efforts. This is one of few problems in software-intensive systems that you can actually throw money and bodies at, and get results.

    1
    October 5, 2017
    • Richard Wanderman said:

      There are numerous small but annoying issue with the High Sierra update ( for me and it seems others) and I’ve been extremely frustrated with it. Hopefully PED. Wont bump into them.

      This will be the last system update I do on my Macs without waiting for a month or so first. I’m guessing a piece of it is the new file system but there are many other small things that seem bumpy and buggy.

      0
      October 6, 2017
  3. Adam Foster said:

    I enjoyed this feature when it first came out… worked across several machines I have.
    Now it only works with one…
    Still like it ‘though

    0
    October 5, 2017

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