Understanding MacID’s Proximity Features

MacID has two proximity features which you can choose whether you want to enable independently.

Auto-lock and Proximity Wake both work by monitoring your primary device’s signal, or “RSSI”.

RSSI is monitored in dBm, and is displayed as a negative figure. The closer the number is to 0, the stronger the signal.

An average signal when you’re next to your Mac can range between -40dBm and -60dBm, but can vary depending on signal quality, whether it’s in your pocket, whether you’re using your Mac in “clamshell mode”, and even just which side of your Mac you have your phone.

You can monitor the signal of your primary device using MacID for OS X, by holding ALT while clicking the MacID menu. You will see your current raw signal and also the average that MacID has stored. Averaging the signal helps with when your signal jumps about erratically. (You can also set MacID to always show RSSI information under the “More options” submenu)

Auto-lock

When enabling Auto-lock you can choose between three pre-set sensitivities, or choose your own signal trigger. (Handy if you have a Mac Pro hidden away in a cupboard)

When your average signal drops, MacID will carry out some checks before warning you that Auto-lock is about to trigger.

If you’ve used your keyboard or mouse recently, or if you’re watching a video or an app is stopping your screen from sleeping, MacID will ignore the signal drop and assume you’re using your Mac, and that it’s just your signal being erratic. MacID will then temporarily increase the distance slightly based on your current settings, to give your signal time to settle down. (It adds -2dBm onto it each time, up to a maximum of -20dBm, to be precise)

Using your keyboard or mouse during the warning will also cancel Auto-lock. I will be looking at adding a way of tweaking these features in the future.

For auto-lock to trigger, your iOS device must have been within the signal boundary, too. This is so that your Mac doesn’t keep trying to lock over and over if, say, you left your iPhone in your kitchen while working on your Mac

If your Mac has a battery you will also see an option to limit Auto-lock to battery power or power adapter only. This could mean that while you’re at home and connected to power, MacID won’t hassle you to try and lock your Mac, but if you’re in a coffee shop it’ll lock as you head to the counter to get another coffee. (I really like coffee)

Proximity Wake

Much like Auto-lock, Proximity Wake has an option to enable with default settings or using a custom signal trigger. The default setting “on” will adjust the signal trigger automatically based on what your Auto-lock settings are. If Auto-lock is off MacID will look for a signal of -60dBm or closer before waking your Mac.

If you use a custom setting, you won’t be able to choose a signal trigger which conflicts with Auto-lock. (Conversely, enabling Proximity Wake will also stop you choosing an Auto-lock setting which would conflict with Proximity Wake)

You also have the option to get MacID to unlock your Mac for you when you approach it, if you have this disabled you will get an interactive notification on your connected iOS devices just like if you wake your Mac manually.

If you use Proximity Wake in an environment where there isn’t loads of space (like at home) and you find Proximity Wake is being activated over and over, you can try setting the signal trigger to a closer signal or snooze requests for 1 hour. To snooze requests, choose “Snooze” from the interactive notification or slide a connected Macs left and choose “Snooze Requests”. (You can also un-snooze by tapping the button again)

 

I hope this helps you tweak MacID’s proximity features to be just right for your personal setup.

2 thoughts on “Understanding MacID’s Proximity Features”

  1. You forgot to explain the Auto-lock on Disconnection option – how it does work with your “For auto-lock to trigger, your iOS device must have been within the signal boundary” claim?

    I started using MacID primary for this future, to lock my Macbook automatically and had an issues with it, when I didn’t get the notification about Auto locking and when I come back, I was still logged in. Hoped enabling this feature will eliminate this, now I am not sure, but I tested it and when I turn bluetooth off on my iPhone, MacBook locks. I assume it work in similar way when signal drops too much and devices disconnect.

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