There are several ways to temporarily lock your computer when are away from your desk. One option is to use the native desktop locking feature in Windows – the keyboard hotkey Win+L. Pressing the keys Win and L together, at any time, locks the computer and takes it back to the logon screen. The computer cannot be unlocked without entering the correct user password.
Then there are third party tools, many of which were featured previously on Instant Fundas. Let us recall them.
1. Mouse Lock is a free, open source utility that can dim the desktop and lock the cursor into the center of the screen. The area where you have to enter your password can also act as an inescapable mouse trap. The only way to unlock the mouse and the computer is by entering the correct password set by the user.
Mouse Lock cannot be over-ridden and pressing CTRL+SHIFT+DEL has no effect. Mouse Lock can also log all passwords attempted, in case somebody tries to brute force into the locked computer.
2. Kid-Key-Lock is a program that locks specific keyboard and mouse functions to prevent toddlers from accidentally pressing unwanted buttons on your keyboard and mouse. Kid-Key-Lock can be accessed from the system tray and all lock-up options are readily accessible from a pop-up menu.
Unfortunately, the program is not fully customizable. You can only choose between some preset lock functions like lock all keys accept standard character keys, or lock only system combination or lock all keys. Similarly you can lock the left, right or middle mouse button, lock double click or the scroll wheel. If you accidentally lock down your keyboard, the program supports a key combination like a password that can override all lock settings or quit the program.
3. Quark is a Matrix-styled, security tool that protects your computer from unauthorized access by locking the screen and denying any user interaction until the correct password is entered. The whole screen is filled up with rows of scrolling green characters with a password box blinking in the foreground.
Accompanying the visual effects there are high-tech, robotic sound effects that can be heard during locking, typing keys and unlocking. To activate Quark you have to double click on QLoad.exe and set your password. Then double click on Quark.exe to lock the screen. When the screen is locked you can’t access any application of the computer. Not even Ctrl+Alt+Del works.
4. Predator is a free utility that allows you to temporarily lock your computer when you have to move away from it by using your USB flash drive as a key. The first time you run Predator, you need to install the “key” on a pen drive. As long as the pen drive is plugged into the computer, your computer is unlocked. The moment you take out the pen drive your computer gets locked.
The keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens. There is no way to access the PC unless you plug the USB drive back into the computer. Once the flash drive is back in place, the computer unlocks. Predator also logs all events into a log file so that you can see if anybody unlawfully gained entry into your PC, or exited the program. The best thing about Predator is, you can lock multiple PCs using a single flash drive.
5. BtProx is a free, open source Windows application that takes advantage of Bluetooth’s basic ability to detect Bluetooth devices to automatically lock your Windows computer whenever you walk away from it.
To use it, you need a Bluetooth enabled cell phone or any suitable device and pair it to your computer. BtProx runs on the system tray and continually checks to make sure your phone is within range. If you walk away from your computer and outside the range of the Bluetooth device, BtProx will activate your screensaver to lock your screen or even run the program of your choice.
One disadvantage of this application is that Bluetooth needs to be kept turned on at all times which can significantly drain your cell phone battery.