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Tags Mac Security

How to Change Security Preferences on Mac

Table of contents

Apple is continuously making improvements to its Mac security features.  


If you feel some default settings have become a little too rigid, then you’re welcome to improve your Macbook’s flexibility by making a few tweaks to its security settings.  


Learning how to change security settings on Mac is mostly painless. But you need to be wary of any changes that may negatively influence your apps’ performance.  


Let us help guide you through these security settings and make them work best for you.

How to access your Mac security settings

Your OS X comes with built-in security and privacy features to protect your sensitive data. They are not fixed so you can take control and adjust them to better meet your unique needs and preferences.


To access and adjust the security preferences on your Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences and click on Security & Privacy.
  2. See four key tabs: General, FileVault, Firewall, and Privacy.
  3. Start tweaking them to meet your requirements.


You may find you can’t change some security and privacy settings on your Mac. This is usually because some Mac security and privacy panes are greyed out. You can easily fix this by clicking on the padlock icon at the bottom, then entering your administrative password to unlock it.


How to activate password lock on the General tab

You can make sure you’re restricting access to your Mac while it’s unattended by setting up its password lock. This way, no one will be able to log in to your device while it’s in sleep or screensaver mode unless they know the password.


To activate password lock on your Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences and click on Security & Privacy.
  2. Open the General tab and click on the small padlock at the left bottom corner to make changes. Enter your admin password.
  3. Check the box for Require password after sleep or screen saver begins.
  4. From the drop-down list, choose your preferred time duration before the password requirement is activated.

Tip: Keeping it at the default immediately is your safest option.


Make sure you also check the box for Disable automatic login. Otherwise, anyone will be able to log in to your account.


If you have admin-level access, you can apply changes to all user accounts by setting the global security features in For All Accounts. You’ll find it in the This Computer section.


How to enable FileVault

FileVault automatically encrypts data on your hard drive. So without your password or recovery key, accessing the content located here is virtually impossible.  


This feature is a great way to secure sensitive data. It’s particularly helpful if you’re always on the move and there’s more of a chance of your laptop being stolen or misplaced. The downside is  that it can slow your Mac down. However, you should proceed if you feel it’s worth the increased Mac security and privacy.


You only need to turn on FileVault, then your macOS will encrypt your entire hard drive and lock it with a password. To do this, go to the FileVault tab, click on the padlock to make changes, then click Turn On FileVault, and follow the instructions.


The encryption might take some time, so make sure you do it on a day when you’re not using your Mac too much.


How to turn on the firewall

If your Mac apps and services need incoming connections to work, they risk exposing your device to malicious software. But a firewall, essentially a network filter, lets you control incoming connections.  


While classic firewalls do the filtering on a per-port basis, your Mac does it on a per-application or per-service basis. This provides you with far more flexibility.


To turn on a Mac’s firewall:

  1. Go to System Preferences, then click Security & Privacy.
  2. Click on the Firewall tab and select Turn On Firewall.  
    Tip: If the option is inactive, click on the lock at the bottom left corner and type your administrator password.
  3. Click Firewall Options to start managing your connections. You can either block incoming connections from all apps or limit them to the built-in or signed apps.


Some apps may not work properly if you block all connections. If you’re hesitant to proceed, then only allow connections for built-in and signed apps approved by Apple.


How to adjust privacy settings

Your Mac lets you manage the information accessible to others in a network or across the internet. For example, you can control which apps or websites can use your Mac’s current location. So you may need to keep your location accessible to maps, food delivery services, and shopping platforms. But a game or a messenger app doesn’t really need to know where you are.


To make changes to your privacy settings, go to the Privacy tab and choose the relevant category on the side panel.  Click on the padlock icon and enter your password first to make sure you can adjust them all.  


Make changes to the following categories as you see fit:

  • Location Services
  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Reminders
  • Photos
  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Speech Recognition
  • Accessibility
  • Input Monitoring
  • Full Disk Access
  • Screen Recording
  • Media & Apple Music
  • HomeKit
  • Bluetooth
  • Automation
  • Analytics & Improvements
  • Apple Advertising

How to change your security settings in Safari

Safari offers advanced settings to protect your privacy and the entire macOS system from online threats. Here’s how you can...


Prevent downloaded files from automatically opening

Sure, Safari can detect if the downloaded files are ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’, but it’s far from perfect. Restricting automatic file opening is a more sure-fire way of avoiding accidentally opening a virus.


To turn off automatic downloads opening:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Click Safari on the menu bar and select Preferences.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. At the very bottom, uncheck the Open “safe” files after downloading checkbox.


Don’t worry, your safe files will still download as usual. 


Warn you when you are on a fraudulent website  

Safari can verify if a website you visit uses an encrypted connection. If it doesn’t respect the basic safety rules, Safari will notify you that the page might be dangerous and advise you to leave.


To enable fraudulent website warning:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Click Safari on the menu bar and select Preferences.
  3. Go to the Security tab.
  4. Check the Warn when visiting a fraudulent website checkbox.


Prevent websites from tracking your online history

Advertisers use cross-site tracking to learn more about you so they can show you more relevant ads. While it’s not inherently wrong, you have every right to keep your information private.


To restrict cross-site tracking:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Click Safari on the menu bar and select Preferences.
  3. Go to the Privacy tab.
  4. Check the Prevent cross-site tracking checkbox.
  5. Check the Ask websites not to track me checkbox.


Block all cookies

Cookies are small pieces of information websites keep about you. They help these sites personalize your browsing experience, but can also raise privacy concerns. If you don’t want to allow cookies, you can block all of them.


To block all cookies:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Click Safari on the menu bar and select Preferences.
  3. Go to the Privacy tab.
  4. Check the Block all cookies checkbox.


Clear your browsing history

If you decide to delete your browsing history, you can do it for a particular website or all websites at once.  


To clear your browsing history:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Click Safari on the menu bar and select Preferences.
  3. Go to the Privacy tab and click Manage Website Data. You will see the list of all the websites with your browsing history.
  4. Select a website, then click Remove to delete its history.
  5. Click Remove All to delete the history for all websites for all time.


Control website behavior and permissions

Websites can show pop-up notifications and may even use your camera, microphone, or location when you visit them. We advise you to change your preferences to make websites ask your permission before doing any of these things.


To control website permissions:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Click Safari on the menu bar and select Preferences.
  3. Go to the Websites tab.
  4. Select the Pop-up Windows option from the list on the left.
  5. On the right, select the website you would like to manage and choose the option from the drop-down menu.


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Now you’ve learned how to change the security preferences on your Mac, you can do a better job of staying safe online without holding back the functionality of some apps and services.  


And if you’d like to take your security measures to the next level, reach out to us at Clario. We combine first-class tech solutions and expert human support to ensure your digital safety. Come try it out for free!


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