Rather than remembering a separate password and set of login information for unlocking a Mac, OS X offers the option to use an iCloud password to login to the computer at boot, reboot, authentication, locked screens, and all login windows instead. This is a helpful feature for users who like to keep things simple and use a single login and password for all Apple related tasks on their Mac, since the Apple ID can access iCloud, the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, FileVault, and quite a bit more.
Allowing an Apple ID and iCloud password to unlock a Mac and login to OS X is quite simple, and when setting up a new Mac or a clean install with OS X Yosemite you may opt to do so directly, otherwise it can be enabled at any time by toggling the feature on. For the average Mac user, this can be an incredibly useful feature, but while this undoubtedly has significant conveniences, using a single login and password for multiple events is not necessarily recommended in all environments, and many advanced users in high security situations will find this feature inappropriate for their usage.
Enable iCloud Password Login and Unlock Mac with OS X
Using an iCloud password for logging into and unlocking a Mac requires a modern version of OS X that has iCloud configured, and the Mac must have internet access to set this up:
- Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” from the dropdown menu
- Choose the “Users & Groups” panel and select the primary Mac login from the left side, this is the account you will associate the Apple ID / iCloud password for unlocking and using
- Click the “Change Password” button next to the users name
- At the prompt “Would you like to change the password for “User Name”, or begin using your iCloud password to log in and unlock this Mac? You will only need to remember one password if you use your iCloud password to log in to this Mac.” – choose “Use iCloud Password…”
- Enter the old password, then login with the iCloud account (your Apple ID) and the associated password, choosing “Use iCloud Password” to set this as the login for the Mac
- Close out of System Preferences when finished
The next time you’re at a login screen, either after system reboot, on network logins, at Fast User Switching login, a locked Mac screen, authenticating the root user, authenticating for administrative purposes, or just about any other imaginable situation where you’d be unlocking a Mac with a login screen in OS X, you’ll now use the Apple ID and iCloud password to login to the Mac.
Effectively, your Apple ID becomes your user name and the iCloud password becomes your login password. Once this is configured, you” use that iCloud Password to login & unlock Mac OS X.
While this does reduce the total number of logins and passwords necessary to remember, one potential issue with using the iCloud password for unlocking the Mac is that if you happen if you course if you lost your Apple ID password and login details, you’d need to recover it before being able to login to the Mac, as the Apple ID would no longer be able to function as a backup password in a forgotten password situation, which is something you can do when you have a separate password configured for logging into OS X and for the general Apple ID and iCloud experience.
If you decide you don’t want to use the iCloud password for your own unlocking and logging in purposes, you can still set it as a valid network login option for not only your own user account, but for other iCloud users with an Apple ID as well.