Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Title says it all: how do I lock the screen using a keyboard shortcut on OS X Mountain Lion with a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000?

share|improve this question
Does your keyboard have an eject button? – daviewales Dec 5 '12 at 22:32
As far as I can tell, it does not have an eject button. – mattvonb Dec 5 '12 at 22:44

13 Answers 13

You do not need to use Third Party Apps to set a global short cut. You can use Automator Services,System Preferences keyboard Shortcuts and the CGSession -suspend command that switches to a login screen.

Use the Applescript :

do shell script "/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu\\ Extras/ -suspend"

in a Automator 'Service' like this with the set up as no input and all applications.

enter image description here

Save it and then go to the Keyboard System Preferences. -> Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Select Services on the right. And scroll down to the bottom on the left to 'General'. There you will see your service. Click the addShortCut. And give the service a shortcut. Clost system prefs.

enter image description here

You may need to quit some apps and re open them first for them to pick up the short cut for the first time. You can see the ones that have already picked it up..

enter image description here

Now try the shortcut from the keyboard.

share|improve this answer
I get really weird behavior in Mavericks with this method. – diimdeep Oct 28 '13 at 15:56
weird behaviour like what?? – markhunte Oct 28 '13 at 17:20
+1, this introduces some really useful general knowledge too! thanks! – gatoatigrado Mar 20 '14 at 21:33
@kermit666 yes. use: do shell script "/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.ap‌​p/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine" – markhunte May 14 '14 at 17:12
If you want to immediately sleep your display, you can also just do a similar trick with a different shell command: pmset displaysleepnow. – Glyph May 13 '15 at 10:16

I used KeyRemap4Macbook to remap the pause/break key to eject. KeyRemap4Macbook is free, and it shows up in System Preferences after installing.

shift+ctrl+pause/break does the trick now.

screenshot from keyRemap4macbook

**Please note that KeyRemap4Macbook is now called Karabiner with the same functionality.

share|improve this answer
Easy, quick and free solution. Thanks! – 0x8BADF00D Apr 6 '15 at 21:04
I downloaded this and it came with a lot of malware. – mac10688 Aug 18 '15 at 14:47
Can you list specific malware? I have been using karabiner for three years, installing all updates, and have never had anything extra come along. Here is the official: – BentheFolker Aug 19 '15 at 16:03
The creator, Takayama Fumihiko, has this to say: "Unfortunately, I don't have enough reputation to comments. If you can, please tell to mac10688 that he/she must download binary from official site. And Karabiner is an open source project and designed with security in mind. " – BentheFolker Aug 19 '15 at 17:13

Or you can go to your Utilities Folder > Keychain Access > Preferences > Show keychain status in menu bar

This will put a lock in your menu bar and you can click "Lock Screen" to lock your screen. If you need a keyboard shortcut, you can add this in your keyboard under Settings.enter image description here

Also, here are steps to use a shortcut to put your computer in screen saver mode which locks your mac at the same time.

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Select Security & Privacy
  3. Select General
  4. Be sure “Require password [immediately] after sleep or screen saver begins” is selected
  5. Go to your applications folder
  6. Open Automator
  7. Select “Services” on the screen that appears
  8. At the top of the new Service's actions, in the Service receives drop-down, select no input from the options. Make sure that any application is selected in the second drop-down.
  9. Add the Start Screensaver action (in the Utilities group of actions) to the Service by dragging it to the right.
  10. Save the Service (Automator does not ask you where to save it, just to name it Logout for example).
  11. Next, open System Preferences again and select the Keyboard preference pane. Select the Keyboard Shortcuts tab at the top, then the Services group on the left.
  12. The service you created should be near the bottom of the list of Services under the General disclosure triangle.
  13. Double-click on the right side of the entry for the Service you created and assign a keyboard shortcut.
  14. I chose Command-Shift-L for my shortcut.
  15. Exit the keyboard preference pane and give it a try

You can always use Control+Shift+Eject (if you have a mac keyboard) or Control+Shift+Power on your mac to put your computer to sleep, but I don’t want that when I can just close the mba lid. We all know about hot corners, but I’m not a big fan of it as it always interferes with other options.

I had been using the lock menu icon for the longest time found in "Utilities Folder > Keychain Access > Preferences > Show keychain status in menu bar” but it just takes too long sometimes to click that small icon when I’m in a rush since the target is so small.

share|improve this answer
Could you clarify your last sentence? How does one add a shortcut? – grgarside Mar 10 '14 at 19:20
I'd also like to ask how one creates a shortcut to this menu item - I've attempted to do this on the Keychain Access app, but I'm assuming the menu bar icon is not part of this app. – Jim O'Brien Jun 24 '14 at 16:24
Over a year late, but I added short cut details as requested. – Evan Apr 14 '15 at 13:22
What is "Utilities Folder" and where is it located? – Petr Dec 10 '15 at 12:44
Go to Applications folder > there you'll see a new folder called Utilities. Open that and you're all set – Evan Dec 19 '15 at 12:58

Assuming your keyboard has an eject button, you need to go to System Preferences, and click on "Security & Privacy", then click on the "General" tab, then select the checkbox that says "Require password immediately after sleep or screensaver begins". Now you can lock your computer by pressing Control-Shift-Eject. This puts the computer to sleep, but because we've told it to lock on sleep, it also locks it.

If your computer doesn't have an eject button, you will need to create your own custom shortcut. Unfortunately, you can only create shortcuts for menu items and services. Fortunately you can create a service to put the display to sleep (and thus lock the screen), and you can assign a shortcut to the service. For instructions on how to do this, see this Macworld page.

share|improve this answer
There is no eject button on the keyboard. (Or if there is, I cannot find it.) Also, I do not want the computer to sleep, only to be locked. – mattvonb Dec 5 '12 at 22:43
You can replace the Eject button with the Power button. (If the keyboard has a power button...) – daviewales Dec 5 '12 at 22:46
The keyboard also does not have a power button. – mattvonb Dec 5 '12 at 22:48
There is an article here which shows you how to create your own custom shortcut. – daviewales Dec 5 '12 at 23:09

You can easily add the padlock icon to your menu bar:

open /Applications/Utilities/Keychain\

You can also add it through Keychain Access prefs. ;)

share|improve this answer

You can also log out to the fast user switching screen, but it doesn't turn off displays. Just assign a shortcut to this shell command:

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu\ Extras/ -suspend

If you have the Alfred Powerpack, you can give the lock action a shortcut in the hotkeys tab:

share|improve this answer
there are 100 articles pointing to a workaround. This is actually the answer I was looking for because I don't freaking want to set the "require password" to "immediately". +100 points – nils petersohn Nov 26 '15 at 9:09
It's a good solution, but unfortunately, it makes the iTunes halt the currently playing track, in contrast to the Keychain "Lock Screen" method. – Elad Nava Jan 2 at 21:30

Control+Shift+Eject is the keystroke for Macs with an Eject key, and for external keyboards Control+Shift+Power is the keystroke for Macs without the eject key, like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina

share|improve this answer
Where is the eject key on the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000? – mattvonb Sep 19 '13 at 16:20

Note that there's also an alternative method which frees you of remembering obscure key combinations and uses English (or other) words instead: with Alfred or possibly Quicksilver (not sure tho), you can invoke actions such as locking the screen, all via a single hotkey and a bunch of commands in plain language. OSX's Spotlight is moving in the same direction — but I'm not sure if it's quite there yet; though you probably can run AppleScript files with it.

share|improve this answer

You can install the tiny, free SleepDisplay application, and assign it to any key in the Microsoft Keyboard section of System Preferences.

share|improve this answer

@markhunte's answer is good, but it falls short when you're in an app that doesn't have a "Services" menu (e.g., Calculator).

Instead of using System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts to assign the shortcut, I use Apptivate: it's a free, lightweight utility whose only purpose is to run a command when you press a hotkey sequence.

Once you've created a "Lock Screen" service in Automator (as described by @markhunte's answer), you simply add it to Apptivate:

Empty Apptivate menu

When the "Open" dialog is displayed, press CMD+SHIFT+G (Go to Folder) and enter ~/Library/Services:

Go to Folder dialog

Then select the Automator service you created earlier:

Select Automator service

Finally, assign a keyboard shortcut to the service:

Apptivate keyboard shortcut menu

And that's it! Now you have a "Lock Screen" keyboard shortcut that can be used in any application.

share|improve this answer

My system version is Yosemite 10.10.5. And the method posted by markhunte is still working except that you need input username everytime after you suspend the system. It's a little annoying to me. So changed the script from:

do shell script "/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu\\ Extras/ -suspend"


tell application "System Events" to sleep

This script just simulates that you click the sleep menu item of system menu.

share|improve this answer
This sleeps the entire computer, it doesn't just lock the screen (and keep it running). – Elad Nava Jan 2 at 21:31

There's a little app which does the trick —

share|improve this answer


Using an original iMac orange keyboard on a 2011 MacBook Pro.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.