How to Use ‘Lockdown Mode’ on iOS 16 and macOS Ventura

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Apple often implements features to keep the average user’s personal data secure, but preventing sophisticated cyberattacks from state-sponsored hacking groups is much harder. To combat these high-level threats, Apple is rolling out a new “Lockdown Mode” for iOS/iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. But does it mean anything for you?

In its official announcement post, Apple says Lockdown Mode is intended for the “very few users who, because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats, such as those from NSO Group and other private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.” As the name implies, the feature outright blocks many of the most vulnerable features on Apple products to stop hackers from gaining access to a user’s data.

Image for article titled How to Use 'Lockdown Mode' on iOS 16 and macOS Ventura

While in Lockdown Mode, any incoming message attachments (other than images) are blocked, including link previews. FaceTime calls and invitations through other Apple services from unknown contacts are also automatically blocked. These are all common vectors hackers use to slip malware or spyware onto a vulnerable device.

Safari’s JavaScript just-in-time (JIT) compiler and other web features are also disabled, since malicious ads and websites are another major threat, especially if there are unpatched Safari bugs a hacker can exploit. This applies to other iOS and Mac browsers that also use Safari’s WebKit engine.

Lockdown Mode can also prevent someone from physically accessing certain files on your phone. For example, all shared photo albums are made invisible and shared album invitations are blocked. Similarly, wired connections to external devices or accessories (such as computers) are disabled while the screen is locked, which stops someone from accessing your data. It also blocks features and settings changes, such as installing configuration profiles or enrolling in mobile device management.

Lockdown Mode is turned off by default, since its heightened security settings are probably overkill for the average user, but the feature will be available on all iOS 16 and macOS Ventura-compatible devices, so anyone can use it. It’s available now in the latest Apple OS betas if you want to try it early, along with the many other new features available in iOS 16.

How to enable Lockdown Mode on iOS/iPadOS 16 or macOS Ventura

  1. On iOS/iPad: Go to Settings > Privacy & Security. 
  2. On Mac: Go to System Preferences > Privacy & Security.
  3. In the Privacy & Security screen, scroll down and select “Lockdown Mode.”
  4. A pop-up window will appear with details on Lockdown Mode. Click “Learn More” if you want more info, otherwise select “Turn on Lockdown Mode” to continue.
  5. Select “Turn on & restart” to confirm.
  6. Your device will reboot. Unlock using your device’s pin/passcode. All Lockdown Mode settings are now turned on. You can disable Lockdown Mode using the above steps as well.

It’s hard to imagine a reason you’d need to use Lockdown Mode, but it’s comforting to know it’s there. And if you’re looking to tune up your Apple device’s security in less aggressive ways, there are plenty of other privacy settings available for general iOS, iPad, and Mac users, including features that keep your iPhone data away from advertisers, and Safari settings that stop websites from tracking you.


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