Lock Your Laptop? Leave Contact Info in the Password Hint

Lock Your Laptop? Leave Contact Info in the Password Hint

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Taryn Williford
Sep 9, 2010

We have a new hobby: bringing up controversial subjects to liven up boring conversation. You know, debates about religion, politics—and whether or not you should password protect your computer or cell phone. Those who favor it always bring up all that mumbo jumbo about protecting your identity, while those opposed say that it diminishes your chances of getting your gear back if it were ever lost. Both good points. If only there was a way to do both... (You see where this is going?)

Yeah, it looks like I'll need to find a new hobby because that debate is about to be squashed for good now that you can have your computer locked and find it too—thanks to a tip that Lifehacker published from one of it's readers.

Just set your password hint (that block of text that's displayed after one too many failed password attempts) to your email address or phone number!


Imagine for a second that you leave your laptop in the break room at your enormous corporate office. Then a well-intentioned laptop finder happens upon your machine and aims to get it back to it's owner:

  • If your computer is unlocked, you'll get it back (yay!), but only after your curious finder gets a peek at your "vacation photos" (boo!).
  • If your computer is completely locked up, they'll have a hard time figuring out who to give it to (and your password hint of "Cat's name + first boyfriend" isn't giving them anything useful).
  • But if you set your password hint to your contact information, your finder will be able to shoot you an email or give you a call without getting access to any of your stuff.


Of course, this only works if you're the type who remembers your password. And it does no good to protect against malicious thieves. But it's a great little tip that just might save your stuff one day!


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