How can I stop my iMac trying to log me off when I leave it unattended for a while?
Many of the features in a modern operating system seem to be designed for a workplace where there are lots of cubicles and people roaming around, causing mischief unless prevented. Not that I have anything against the security of logins, passwords and (on the most modern of Mac systems) fingerprint unlocking; I like knowing my files and documents are reasonably safe and secure.
Still, when you have a computer like an Apple iMac sitting in your kitchen or den and it’s just you and your cats, you and your spouse, or, heck, you and your houseplants, odds are very good that you don’t need to prove your identity every time you grab a cup of tea or go for a walk. The computer doesn’t know this, however, and – so far, at least – it doesn’t know whether you’re living solo or in a busy cubicle farm, so its default is to assume the worst and lock you out.
Both Mac and Windows computers make it easy to change this setting, but since you have an iMac, let’s focus on that. Instead of using the Apple > System Preferences… route, however, let’s do something different. Press Command + [space] on your keyboard (e.g., press and hold down the Command key, then also press the space bar) to launch Spotlight.
You’ll see a box in the middle of the screen like this:
Now since you want to change what happens when your computer goes to sleep, let’s just search for the word “sleep”. Do that by typing it in and then watch to see what happens; no Return or Enter key to press…
You don’t want the Energy Saver, but look two further down on the list. What you want instead is “Security & Privacy“, a logical place to find a password related security setting. Click on this option within the Spotlight window and it’ll open up System Preferences with the Security & Privacy window in the correct spot:
You have to admit, that’s a fast and easy way to find the correct setting on your iMac!
To change the setting – and notice mine is set to require a password after 5 minutes of inactivity – you’ll need to unlock the preferences window, which is done by clicking on the yellow padlock icon on the bottom left. A click and it prompts you for your account password (or an administrative account password if you don’t have an admin account):
Once you’ve unlocked it, you can look more closely at the setting options to see what you want to change to get that pesky iMac to work exactly how you’d like:
Notice also that if you click on the menu that shows your current password timeout (mine is “5 minutes”) there are a lot of different options from which to choose:
Given your setup, I recommend you consider something like 4 hours, so that you’ll need to log in every morning to access your files, email, photos, etc, but during the day you’ll just be able to wake up the computer and keep going, even after an extended lunch break or dinner out with friends.
Good luck and please don’t forget to check out the extensive Mac help here on the site!