I normally run my Mac with a very long password delay on the screensaver. Sometimes, though, I want to reduce the delay to just 1-2 seconds.

This command is supposed to reduce the time for the delay to a second:

defaults write com.apple.screensaver askForPasswordDelay -int 1

This command makes the laptop sleep again:

pmset sleepnow

And this command activates the screen saver:

open -a /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework//Versions/A/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app

My problem: if I run any combination of these commands when the screen saver delay is 60 minutes, the computer does not immediately ask for a password when it wakes up or the screen saver stops. I need to open the system preferences after I run these commands in order for the defaults write to get registered. And if the Preferences pane is open, it never gets registered.

I think that the Preferences pane is doing something else --- that is, I think that the information about how long to sleep or be in screen saver before a password is required is being stored someplace other than this defaults entry and the Preference pane is copying from one to another.

How do I make the Mac immediately require a screensaver password without opening the preferences pane? How do I have the password not be required for 60 minutes? How do I get MacOS to respect the dwrite ? I suppose I could kill the Preferences program and then re-open it with AppleScript, but that seems silly (and slow)


I'm using a little app, called Lock me Now! which is completely free. You can set your own lock-command, and it will lock instantly asking for a password.

  • 2
    Perhaps, but that's not want I want to do. I want to do it from the command line. I also really want to be able to change the password delay from the command line. I'll edit my question. – vy32 Feb 4 '14 at 0:40

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