I often use my computer in public spaces and sometimes I walk away to take a phone call or similar without remembering to lock the PC. Is there any way to automatically lock it when I’m not in front of the screen?
While our computers are still of limited intelligence, their environmental awareness has been increasing as more of our devices talk to each other and have the ability to identify people and their locations. Have your kitchen light turn on when you unlock the front door? You can do that. Get your garage door to open when you turn onto your street? You can set that up. Have your PC lock when you walk away from it? Kinda, sorta, yes, you can do that too.
It’s all part of the Windows alternative login options area and there’s quite a lot you can do nowadays. With the right hardware, you can even have your PC unlock when it notices your smilin’ face in front of it. But in terms of locking, there are a couple of steps you’ll want to take for this to work, so let’s get into it.
The first step is to set up is to ensure that your PC is prompting for a password or other login credential when it wakes from a sleep state. You can set that up by going through this earlier article of mine: Set Up Your PC to Require Password on Wake from Sleep.
Got that all setup? Great, now grab your Bluetooth device (probably your smartphone), because you’ll need it…
SETTING UP DYNAMIC LOCK ON YOUR WINDOWS 10 PC
The feature you want is called “Dynamic Lock” and it’s in the Sign-In Options area. The easiest way to get there is to search on the TaskBar for ‘hello’ and let Windows search take you to the right place. It’ll look like this:
You might have more (or less) options depending on your actual hardware, but scroll down on the right side a bit to find Dynamic Lock:
If you haven’t paired your smartphone or another Bluetooth device with your PC, you’ll stall out here until you do so. You can tell because if you try to click on the checkbox adjacent to “Allow Windows to automatically lock your device when you’re away” you get this warning:
No worries, fixing the problem – and pairing a device – is easy…
PAIR YOUR SMARTPHONE WITH YOUR WINDOWS PC
Click or tap on “Bluetooth & other devices” and you’ll go to the Bluetooth pairing area. It looks like this:
Click on “Add Bluetooth or other device” and it’ll be in ready to pair mode.
Now grab your smartphone and go into Settings > Bluetooth and set up a new pairing. On my Google Pixel 5 running Android, the actual pairing request looks like this:
A tap on “Pair” and a tap or click on “Pair” on the PC too and it’s all set up.
You’ll have to navigate back to the Hello / Sign-In Options window, but now it’s checked and all ready to test:
In fact, it shows which of your Bluetooth devices is the security proximity key. For me, it’s the Pixel 5.
Now you can test it: Grab your phone and walk far, far away. You’ll find that Microsoft isn’t kidding when the help pages talk about it “taking a minute or two”, it’s nowhere near as speedy as you might desire, but it will eventually put the PC into sleep mode. So it’s not a great solution to the problem, but it is better than nothing, particularly if you have your computer set to 30 minutes or longer before it goes into sleep mode otherwise.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Microsoft Windows for quite a while. Please check out my extensive Windows help library while you’re here!