How to Lock/Unlock Mac or PC with USB Drive

Last Updated: January 27, 2017

Every spy movie ever, has a computer that can only be accessed by plugging in a special flash drive, or something of the sort. Not only does it look cool, and high tech (in a way), it’s also rather practical to have a USB flash drive for unlocking your Mac, or PC. There are a number of reasons for this – you don’t need to type in a password all the time; you can set a really strong password, and then not need to really remember it, because you can simply unlock your PC or Mac with a USB drive, etc., adding a very strong layer of security to your system. So, if you’re wondering how to do the same on your home PC, here is how to set up USB Lock on PC or Mac:

Set Up USB Lock on PC or Mac

Rohos Key Logon is a software that can program a USB flash drive, a mobile phone, or even a Bluetooth device to act as the key to unlock your system. The best part about this application, is that it’s available for both Windows, and macOS devices. While it is a paid app, you can get a trial version to check it out, before having to actually register the software for continued use.

So, with that out of our way, let’s jump right into the steps we’ll have to take in order to create a USB flash drive that will let us log into our system.

NoteI’m running the Rohos Key Logon software on a MacBook Air, running macOS Sierra 10.12.4 Developer Beta, and while the steps I’ll follow here apply to a Mac, there should only be very minor differences when using the software on Windows.

1. First, download Rohos Key Logon’s free trial, and install it on your Mac. You will have to restart your Mac after the installation is complete.

install rohos

2. Next, from the menu bar of your Mac, click on the Rohos Key Logon icon, and go to “Open Rohos Logon“. This will open up the main Rohos Key Logon window.

open rohos logon

3. Here, simply click on the option that says “USB drive”. Make sure that the USB flash drive you want to use for logging in, is connected to your Mac.

usb drive. in rohos

4. In the next window, enter your system login password, and select the USB flash drive you want to use as a key, and click on “OK“.

enter password select usb drive

5. In the next screen, you can select the action you want your computer to take if the USB flash drive is pulled out of the system. If you don’t want to keep it plugged in, simply choose “Nothing” in this screen.

select nothing for no action

However, for better security, I’d suggest you keep it to “Lock the Desktop“, when plugged out. This will also make it easier for you to lock your PC or Mac when you’re leaving it unattended.

That’s basically all you had to do. You can now easily unlock your PC or Mac, by plugging in the correct USB flash drive. However, as of now, if someone knew your password, they’d still be able to log in to your system. If you want to eliminate the chances of this happening, simply follow the steps below:

1. From the Rohos Key Logon icon in the menu bar, click on “Preferences”.

rohos preferences

2. Here, check the checkbox next to “Allow login only by USB key“.

login only with key

This will ensure that you can only log in if the USB flash drive is present in the system. This is highly secure, but is also a little risky. You could lose your flash drive, it could break, or it could get corrupted. Which is why, I’d suggest that you either don’t disable login with password, or else, have at least two USB keys that can unlock your system… just in case.

Deleting the USB Key

If you don’t want to use the USB flash drive as a key for your system anymore, you can easily remove the USB flash drive from Rohos, as well. The process of doing this is simple:

1. From the Rohos Key Logon menu bar icon, click on “Open Rohos Logon“.

open rohos logon

2. Here, click on “Delete Key“.

delete key

3. Select the USB flash drive you want to remove, and click on “Delete”.

delete rohos key

This will remove the USB flash drive as the key to your system, and you can revert back to using your password to log into your system.

Rohos Key Logon comes with a 15-days trial, after which, you will have to pay $25 to register it for continued usage. If you’re looking for free alternatives for Windows, there are quite a number of software that you can try. However, with the exception of USB Raptor, none of the others worked properly for me. USB Raptor works perfectly fine, and can be used to lock/unlock your Windows PC with a USB flash drive.

SEE ALSO: Encrypt USB Drives To Secure The Data You Carry On The Go

Secure Your System with Physical Access Keys

Physical access keys are one of the strongest ways you can use to secure your system from unauthorized access. Even if a potential thief gets a hold of your password, they will still not be able to log into your system, unless they have access to the USB key that you’ve created. However, losing the only USB key for your system can be catastrophic, so you should always have a backup key, somewhere, just in case.

So, have you ever wanted to secure your system using physical access keys? What software did you use to secure your system with external USB drives? Also, if you know of a better software (a more secure one, that is), do let us know about it in the comments section below.