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How to Set a Custom Lock Screen Message in Mac OS X

Posted by Jim Tanous on May 6, 2014
Lock Screen Message Mac

Mac users, especially those with portable Macs, will want to take steps to protect their hardware and data in the event of loss or theft. But not everyone who finds a lost Mac is a thief, and it would be nice to provide these good samaritans with the information they need to return your Mac to you. Many traveling businesspeople choose to tape business cards to their laptops, but we don’t want such an inelegant solution to mar your Mac’s hardware, so we’ll use OS X’s built-in lock screen message feature instead.
To set a Mac lock screen message, head to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. Click the padlock icon in the lower-left section of the screen and authenticate as an administrative user.
Mac Lock Screen Message System Preferences
Find and check the box “Show a message when the screen is locked” and then click Set Lock Message.
Mac Lock Screen Message Custom
In the text box that appears, type any information you wish to help return your Mac to you, such as a phone number, address, or email address. We’ve also found that the lock screen message is a handy way to quickly identify identical hardware. At TekRevue, for example, we have two 15-inch MacBook Pros that look the same but run different software. We use the Mac lock screen message to label the first system “Alpha” and the second “Beta,” so that we can quickly tell which system we’ve got in hand.
You can enter as much text as you want in the Lock Message box. On the Mac lock screen, OS X will display the top three lines by default, with a scroll bar to view additional text. If you wish to enter line breaks, press Control-Enter. Otherwise, the text will format as a single paragraph.
Once you’ve set your message, log out of your user account or lock your screen to see it.
Mac Lock Screen Message
While our screenshots demonstrated this process using OS X Mavericks, users can set lock screen messages in any version of OS X starting with 10.7 Lion. To disable your Mac’s lock screen message, head back to the Security & Privacy preference pane and uncheck the box referenced above.

6 thoughts on “How to Set a Custom Lock Screen Message in Mac OS X”

Kaiba Kyoichi says:
First
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enriquedelgado says:
Pro-tip: You can use Emoji characters in the Locked Screen Message! To enter emoji characters, use CTRL+COMMAND+Space
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jimdkc says:
Does anybody know how to “check” the “Show a message when the screen is locked” via a terminal or bash command? I want to do this… to 2000 Macs! Without touching every one of them.
You can set the text using the “defaults” command to add a “loginwindow” key and the desired text in a string to the Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist file. But, I can’t find how to “check” that box with a command!
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Levi Roberts says:
Thanks for providing this neat little article! I had no idea I could do this. I don’t normally browse around in the System Prefs unless I need something. I would of never seen this tweak otherwise! =)
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TekRevue says:
Glad to help. Thanks for visiting, Levi!
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ZrpmRrUK4g says:
Aren’t you sacrificing security by not enabling “Require Password Immediately”? I tested your suggestions and got a warning by Mac about this and opted to decline your advice.
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TekRevue says:
Well, this has nothing to do with when your Mac requires a password. The steps to add a lock screen message work whether you want to have a password set immediately, in 5 minutes, or even never (by only locking when you manually log-out).
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ZrpmRrUK4g says:
Yet in order to enable your suggestion you must disable the immediate requirement that a password be required therefore something has to give. Agreed?
TekRevue says:
No, that’s not correct. Enabling or disabling a lock screen message has no effect on when your password is required.
Guest says:
Yes it does. An Apple notification pops up as soon as you disable the immediate requirement. So now that is 2 incorrect statements by you. YEESH!
TekRevue says:
Why are you disabling the option to require a password immediately upon locking? As I’ve stated multiple times, that’s not necessary to enable a lock screen message.
Checking the box to enable a lock screen message in OS X does not require that a user change the when they need to enter a password. I’m not sure why you’re having trouble with this. Perhaps there’s something going on with your Mac related to corrupt or locked preference files?
Levi Roberts says:
Dear Guest, your information is incorrect. I have my password set to immediate requirement and can still follow the directions in this guide to provide my information. Whenever I lock my screen (CTRL + SHIFT + Eject), the login box is still shown however beneath it my information is also displayed. -Levi
Thomas Ferrin says:
Do you know of any way to do this on Snow Leopard?
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TekRevue says:
Hi Thomas,
We don’t currently have a Snow Leopard system with which to test this, but there’s a comment over at Lifehacker (from a user called “The Urinator”) that says you can do it by editing a preference file.
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