Locking Workstations

UNW's Acceptable Use Policy states that all devices on the network (onsite or VPN) that are not used for presentation purposes must have a lock out timeframe of 10 minutes (See /wiki/spaces/IKB/pages/80283705 - section 1.2.3). This means that if a workstation is left inactive (no keyboard or mouse input) for 10 minutes it will lock automatically and require the end user to re-enter their password in order to regain access the workstation. All UNW-owned workstations impacted by this policy have been pre-configured in such a way that this policy will automatically go into effect from the date the workstation is provisioned. The workstations will not logoff but simply require re-entering credentials to resume the session. Even if you are going to be away for less than 10 minutes, it is required that you manually lock your workstation or log off prior to walking away (see below).  

Policy Scope:

Workstations this applies to:

  • University staff/faculty workstations (whether on or off campus) 
  • Northwestern Media office workstations (St. Paul and all outlying stations)
  • Student Worker workstations
  • Normal Conference Room workstations
  • Virtual workstations
  • Virtual/physical computer labs
  • Dormitory and Library workstations
  • Any systems not explicitly mentioned in the exclusions list


  • Windows Workstations that are actively being used for a presentation: Windows has built-in logic to determine if a workstation is 'presenting' and will not lock it while this is the case. For more information, please read: Presenter Mode
  • Workstations in special categories - regardless of whether or not they are actively being used for a presentation:
    • Classroom workstations
    • Bookstore registers
    • Mail Center POS
    • Security camera-feed workstations
    • Event Services production systems 
    • Northwestern Media audio production systems
    • Nursing SimLab systems
    • Conference Rooms regularly used for Media Fundraising

How to manually lock your UNW workstation:

Windows workstations (3 methods):

  1. Press the Windows key + L (recommended)
  2. Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE and choose the "Lock" option.
  3. Click the 'start' menu in the lower left corner, click on the UNW logo by your name, and click the 'Lock' button:

Mac workstations (2 methods):

  1. Press Control + Command + Q (recommended)
  2. Use the Finder menu in the upper left corner and choose "Lock Screen":