Use A USB Stick Instead Of A Password On Your Mac [OS X Tips]


We don't need no stinking passwords!
We don't need no stinking passwords!

CultofMac reader, Ashwin, asks,
“I wanted to know if there is way to use an USB stick as a password for my Mac. One of my friends has it for his Windows (machine). So, is there a way to do it for a Mac?”

The concept here is fairly simple: you install a program on your Mac, and then use it to take any USB stick you have and turn it into a secure password device for your Mac.

When you want to use your Mac, you plug in the USB stick. When you unplug it, no one else can get into your computer. It’s even more secure than having to type in a password, as no one can watch you type or record your keystrokes, since there’s no actual typing involved. The downside, of course, is that your Mac is now tied to an easily lost USB stick, and one that will give anyone access to your Mac if they have access to the dongle itself.

The first of the two Mac-centric solutions I found was Rohos Logon Key for Mac. Rohos also makes a similare piece of software for Windows PCs, as well. For $32, available online, you’ll get the software that goes on your Mac and turns your USB disk into a password login stick. There’s a 15-day trial available, as well as a Bluetooth option to use the software with your iPhone.

For $49.95, you can download LogonKey from Protemac, which does the same thing: turns any USB drive into a password protection dongle for your Mac. This one will let you download a 10-day trial as well, so you can test them both out to see which works best for you.

You can download both Mac apps at the links below.

Rohos Logon Key For Mac
Logon Key From Protemac

Thanks for your question, Ashwin!

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  • mister_rabbit

    Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems like these methods/applications would be easily bypassed by either rebooting in safe mode or by disabling login items as you login, both of which would prevent the application from launching as your user profile loads.

    Perhaps it would be worth noting that these methods would be stronger if used in conjunction with firmware passwords. Firmware passwords are still able to be bypassed, though this is becoming increasingly more difficult for consumers to do on their own, but they would prevent someone from safe booting the machine.