If I recall correctly, the little lock icon in System Preferences used to prevent changes without unlocking it and providing username and password. Either my macOS is broken, or this isn't the case anymore.

Here is a little animated GIF showing that I can make random changes in the Security and Privacy system settings without unlocking.

Not very secure and not very private

macOS Catalina 10.15.2

I'm running 10.15.2 macOS Catalina. Am I mistaken on the purpose of this lock? Did it change at some point? Or is my macOS just insecure?

  • 1
    I thought this too, I filed a couple radar and they were closed as “works as expected” to my disappointment and a bit of confusion. Apple doesn’t classify all items as needing the lock in a pane to lock all items. Let me see if I can reproduce your issue or dig up that report. Also, the controls can be very non-intuitive.
    – bmike
    Jan 22, 2020 at 2:29
  • Are you sure the changes actually take? After making a change close System Preferences and then reopen and see if the change is still there,
    – Natsfan
    Jan 22, 2020 at 2:31
  • @jmh Yes, I double-checked it and the changes take. Jan 22, 2020 at 2:46
  • It's the same with System Prefs > Date & Time > Clock for ages... (at least as admin)
    – klanomath
    Jan 22, 2020 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


On Mojave, the categories with no padlock requirement are Contacts, Calendars, (no app has requested access to Reminders yet), Photos, Camera, Microphone, Automation and Advertising.

Those requiring Admin password are Location, Accessibility and Full Disk Access.

Analytics does not require unlocking to change Share iCloud Analytics but does for Share Mac Analytics and Share with App Developers which are otherwise input inhibited.


Former list permissions didn't require me to enter root password as far as I remember. So it shouldn't ask on a later time either.

You can check whether password is required or not by

tccutil reset Microphone

or any other item like AddressBook. See this blog for the same

https://www.felix-schwarz.org/blog/2018/08/new-apple-event-apis-in-macos-mojave or man tccutil.

As for those protected ones, +- buttons are given and they are greyed out if padlock is locked.

  • Weird. . . . Does Apple have some sort of documentation for which privacy and security features are actually secured by the padlock? Or is it just a matter of trial and error to figure out which is which? Jan 22, 2020 at 5:30
  • In the past, items locked would be ghosted. I have not checked whether that is the case with Catalina.
    – WGroleau
    Jan 22, 2020 at 7:27
  • @JimMcKeeth you could see the blog I linked, quite informative, and also links to Apple's. Also see a minor edit.
    – anki
    Jan 22, 2020 at 8:23
  • @WGroleau see the edit, it's the same thing you said, though.
    – anki
    Jan 22, 2020 at 8:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .