If you’ve ever wanted a quick way to ensure that others can’t use your Mac when you step away from it and you’re the type of person to keep your iPhone with you wherever you go, developer Appuous has a solution for you with its new Mac app, Keycard.
Keycard is a tiny app that lives in your Mac’s menu bar (you can opt to keep its icon in your dock while it’s running as well) that locks your Mac when a paired Bluetooth device goes out of range. Once you and your device get back into range, Keycard will unlock your Mac automatically.
To use Keycard, you must first pair it with an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (Appuous states that it will work with almost any other Bluetooth device as well though I’ve only used it with an iPhone and iPad mini). The pairing process with Keycard is not as involved as with a headset, speaker, or most other devices since all Keycard does is detect the device, log its identifier, and keep track of its Bluetooth signal so the Bluetooth indicator on your iOS device won’t light up to indicate the pairing.
Here’s a demo video showing Keycard in action:
After using Keycard for the past week with my MacBook Air (a mid-2011 model) and my iPhone 5 and iPad mini, I’ve found that it works as shown in that demo video. The Keycard lock screen appears when my iPhone gets anywhere from 15 to 30 feet away as the crow flies (with walls and furniture interrupting the Bluetooth signal in my house) and disappears by the time I get close enough to my Mac to type. While it’s locked, you can’t access any applications or use keyboard commands to force quit or switch applications. You can still power off a Mac and turn it back on manually, so you should enable a log-in password for your Mac for more security.
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While Keycard works with multiple devices, it will trigger based on the Bluetooth signal of only one device at a time. For me, pairing it with my iPhone is the best method since that’s the device I almost always carry with me wherever I go, which is not the case with my iPad.
In situations where your iPhone or iPad is out of Bluetooth range and you still need to work on your Mac, you can designate a 4-digit passcode that will unlock your Mac. I found this passcode to work as expected but entering it was a little buggy from time to time, with the cursor skipping backwards as I entered the code for no discernible reason. Also, once unlocked this way, my Mac would periodically re-lock as if Keycard momentarily detected my iPhone on the other side of the house and then lost the signal, requiring me to enter the code again. If your iPhone or iPad are going to be away from your Mac for a while, it makes sense to just quit Keycard to avoid this.
Despite these glitches, Keycard does what it promises. If you have mischievous coworkers who might take advantage of a brief absence from your Mac to post something inappropriate through your Facebook account or if you simply want to lock down your Mac to keep its contents relatively secure when you step away for a short period of time, Keycard will be ideal for you.
Keycard debuted in the App Store yesterday and is on sale for a special introductory price of $6.99 and its regular price will be $8.99. I have a hard time reconciling its regular price when comparing Keycard to an app like Clear, which is $9.99 and offers far more functionality albeit in a different category entirely, so I’d recommend you buy Keycard now before its price goes up.